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Marijuana eradication raids under way in 6 counties

FruityBud

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A massive, six county marijuana eradication operation aimed at ridding the Mendocino National Forest of illegal pot cultivation is in full swing, Mendocino County officials have confirmed.

As of Monday, the multi-agency law enforcement operation had yielded about 292,000 plants and 77 arrests, said Michelle Gregory, a Department of Justice spokeswoman.

“At this point, the operation is going as planned. We're making very good progress,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, who was instrumental in organizing the operation.

Citing officer safety concerns, officials declined to give details of the operation, which began early last week but which they initially attempted to keep secret.

The operation includes hundreds of law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies. Raids are taking place simultaneously in Mendocino, Lake, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, and Trinity counties, counties that contain portions of the Mendocino National Forest.

Agents are eradicating marijuana and then removing pot-growing infrastructure and the toxic chemicals and debris that growers typically leave behind.

The idea for the multi-county operation was born of a public meeting in Covelo last year, when residents complained about confrontations with armed subjects in the forest and nearby.

Hikers and ranchers reported warning shots being fired when they unwittingly walked into marijuana growing areas. Some ranchers said it has become too dangerous to take their livestock to grazing land they lease in and near the forest.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman and forestry officials began organizing a multi-county eradication effort following the meeting.

Last summer was among the deadliest in the North Coast involving marijuana growing operations. Violent confrontations left five suspected marijuana growers dead in four Northern California counties within a seven-week period.

In addition to the violence, large scale illegal marijuana cultivation and lead to deforestation, damages wildlife habitats, and threatens drinking water supplies.

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