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2003 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Program Has Record-Breaking Season
466,000 plants valued at over $1.9 billion eradicated
(SAN JOSE) – Attorney General Lockyer, along with representatives from several state and federal agencies, today announced the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program shattered the previous record by seizing 466,054 plants during the 2003 eradication season. The amount represents 100,000 more plants than last year and has an estimated street value of over $1.9 billion.
Headed by the California Department of Justice, the multi-agency program also includes the California National Guard, United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management, United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and dozens of local and county law enforcement agencies. CAMP conducted 182 raids in 32 counties during the growing season, which runs from late July through early October. In addition to the record plant seizures, officers made 35 arrests and seized 50 weapons. The average raid this year resulted in the seizure of nearly 2,500 plants. Twelve of the raids this season were on gardens containing more than 10,000 plants, with one garden garnering 70,000 plants, a CAMP record.
"Season ending statistics show that public land has once again proven to be the commercial growers' area of choice," Lockyer said. "California land is being desecrated from months of accumulated garbage and waste, the use of pesticides and herbicides, the diversion of water from precious streams and the willful destruction of native plants and lands."
Three regional CAMP teams worked for months to protect public lands in California from the environmental devastation these large scale operations create. This year, 75% of illegal marijuana gardens were located on public land, including state and national parks and forests, which is a 20% increase over last year's seizures.
This season, agents also destroyed more illegal grows linked to multi-billion dollar Mexican Drug organizations. These plantation-sized grows accounted for 84% of the plants seized this season with 79% of these operations hidden in remote regions of our public forests and recreation areas. Drug organizations use profits from marijuana cultivation to finance other illegal drug trafficking operations like methamphetamine and other narcotics.
The 2003 campaign experienced increased violence from armed garden-tenders protecting their crops. In Southern California, local sheriffs were fired upon when investigating a marijuana garden. In Northern California, four suspects were shot and killed when they took aim at local law enforcement officials.
Agents also encountered gardens rigged with booby-traps including camouflaged barbed-wire, bear traps and hidden razor blades. No law enforcement agents suffered serious injuries.
"We worked very closely with our partner agencies this season, sharing information and intelligence," said CAMP Commander Val Jimenez. "It is this level of cooperation and commitment that led to a successful 21st season of CAMP."
Lockyer was joined in San Jose by Jimenez, DOJ Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Acting Chief Dave Tresmontan; DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Greg Sullivan; USFS Special Agent in Charge, Region 5 Jerry Moore; California National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Jay Brookman; and Santa Clara County Sheriff's Lieutenant Ed Laverone.
A summary of the 2003 CAMP season is attached.