Agents seize 20,000 plants in pot bust

(Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)

July 20, 2011 8:15:59 PM PDT
It's nearing harvest time across California. The crop -- marijuana. Authorities are combing the state on a seek and destroy mission. They got there in time during a raid Wednesday near Mount Madonna County Park in Santa Clara County.

State and county agents say they seized 20,000 plants worth an estimated $25-$30 million. There is also evidence people were guarding and tending to the crop.

"These are not medical marijuana grow sites, these are illegal large drug trafficking organizations responsible for these sites today," California Department of Justice Cmdr. Neil Cuthbert said.

The state Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) hoisted agents into the remote locations to chop down the immature plants. Two gardens were on Mount Madonna County Park, two on private property.

The actual eradication effort runs between July and October. This is the first CAMP operation this season in Santa Clara County.

The sheriff's department has its own marijuana eradication team. It has already seized 40,000 plants this year, arrested 11 people and confiscated numerous weapons.

Agents say one reason targeting pot remains a priority is the threat to hikers and the general public.

"A lot of times the individuals that are at these campsites are armed and dangerous they be known to shoot at pedestrians coming by officers shoot at our officers," Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Troy Smith said.

No one was arrested in Wednesday's raids. The Department of Fish and Game will now work to clean up the environmental damage done to the area.

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