Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Good Year for Bud Busts (122606 SB Sun) Most Marijuana seized in S.B. County in past 15 Years.

Good year for bud busts
Most marijuana seized in S.B. County in past 15 years
By Melissa Pinion-Whitt, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 12/26/2006 12:00:00 AM PST

Thedevious mountain landscape almost masked a big mystery from a randomhiker who stumbled upon 1,500 marijuana plants in the San BernardinoMountains one day in July.
While it was a significant find, sheriff's deputies familiarwith the rugged terrain ventured farther into the Angelus Oaks woodsand found about 53,000 more plants, one of the largest busts in countyhistory.

It's been a good year for San Bernardino County lawenforcement in terms of marijuana plant seizures. The Sheriff'sDepartment found and removed more than 97,000 plants, the most since1991. The county also ranked fifth in the state for plants seized withthe assistance of a state eradication group.

But members of the sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Team say they still have a lot more work to do.

"Iknow for a fact we did not find all the marijuana (that) grows in theSan Bernardino Mountains that were out there," said Sgt. John Ginter,team supervisor. "There are some that we missed. That's our goal nextyear is to try to identify more locations and eradicate more plants."

Law-enforcement officers assigned to marijuana farms saythe county's high ranking this year is due to more and more growersdiscovering the

San Bernardino National Forest is ideal for concealing their lucrative enterprises.
"Theremoteness of our forest lands and the availability of our watersources is the reason for the increase in the plant numbers," Gintersaid.

It's a trend reflected across the state.

TheDepartment of Justice said 2006 was a record-setting year for pot plantseizures, with 1.7 million plants removed mostly from public lands suchas state and national parks and forests. That's an increase of about540,000 plants over 2005.

The plants were worth an estimated $6.7 billion. Thedepartment's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP program,conducted 477 raids in 34 counties during the growing season, whichtypically starts in late July and ends as late as November, dependingon the weather.

While some local law enforcement officials believe activityis increasing, state officials say the increase in seizures is due tomore manpower, better equipment and training.

Five teams under the CAMP program were used this pastgrowing season, compared with three in 2005, said DOJ spokeswoman RobinSchwanke.

Marijuana seizures in 2006 under the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting
Total plants seized: 1,675,681

Estimated value: $6.7 billion

Raids: 477

Arrests: 27

Weapons seized: 29



Plant seizures by county*

1. Lake - 314,603

2. Shasta - 227,488

3. Mendocino - 135,736

4. Fresno - 102,814

5. San Bernardino - 91,286

6. Riverside - 84,752

7. Sonoma - 73,460

8. Trinity - 68,544

9. Humboldt - 59,616

10. Santa Clara - 52,416

*Numbers reflect busts conducted under the Campaign Against MarijuanaPlanting, or CAMP, program. Some counties, such as Los Angeles and SanDiego, do not utilize CAMP.

Source: California Department of Justice


Members of the team have also increased the use ofhelicopter surveillance, helping them track more growth locations andmaking them easier to access.

"Agents can be transported by helicopter into the garden,whereas before they hiked in and hiked out with the marijuana,"Schwanke said.

San Bernardino County's Marijuana Eradication Team is mostactive during the growth and harvest season, but works year-roundstaking out potential growth sites and locations of prior busts.

It's a job full of hazards. The team navigates steep androcky terrain, avoiding snakes and other wild animals. It alsooccasionally runs into pot farm workers carrying firearms.

"It's not so much to fight off law enforcement, but tofight off wild animals or people trying to invade the turf and stealthe product," Ginter said.

Sometimes plants are discovered by chance.

InJuly, firefighters battling the 61,700-acre Sawtooth Complex Fire in aremote area of Little Morongo Canyon discovered plants covering nearlytwo square miles.

Deputies have discovered they are often at a disadvantage when it comes to catching people operating the farms.

Growerspick locations ideal for spotting any intruders, especially lawenforcement. Workers camp in trees and work as lookouts on high ground.They have a couple minutes to an hour head start before officers evenspot a plant.

They plant on several sites, knowing they may have to sacrifice one or two plots in law-enforcement busts.

"It'swhat we learn from the previous grow season that we apply in the nextgrow season," Ginter said. "It's an ever-changing deal. They learn fromus just as we learn from them."

BS Ranch Perspective:

The S.B. County Sheriff Department is off to a great start when it comes to seizures of Grown Marijuana! I suppose if there was someone in custody that they would state that they were growing this for Medical Purposes, to sell at the legal Marijuana stores in the Bay area that are claiming to be selling this to people that suffer from real medical reasons. LOL!

Well, that is all I have to say for the Weed that keeps on growing in the mountains with its own irrigation systems and small tents near by that are meant for squatters that are just hunting for cans and the like in the area. LOL.

One thing is for sure, with the rise in Seizures it goes to show how popular the Weed is still today! Plus how much it is wanted as a marketed drug!


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