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Attorney General Lockyer Urges Outdoor Enthusiasts to Be Extra Cautious this Fall

Danger to Public Increases in Closing Weeks of Marijuana Planting Season
Friday, September 19, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Lockyer today urged outdoor enthusiasts to exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings as the illegal marijuana harvest season reaches its peak. The warning was issued as the Attorney General's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program cranks into high gear.

"Illegal marijuana gardens throughout California are currently being groomed for harvest," Lockyer warned. "This multi-billion dollar industry increasingly relies on armed sentries to protect their investments. If you plan on enjoying the outdoors this fall, please use extra caution when exploring new territory and avoid confrontation."

Last year, 56% of illegal marijuana grows were located on public land, which includes state and national parks and forests. These gardens usually are located in remote regions away from popular areas, but hikers, campers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts should be extra-vigilant about their surroundings. If anyone believes they have spotted or stumbled upon an illegal marijuana garden, the Attorney General strongly recommends that they immediately exit the area and notify local law enforcement authorities.

Within the last week, there have been four separate incidents involving gunfire at illegal marijuana gardens. In Ventura County, individuals protecting a garden reportedly fired upon a backcountry hunter. The hunter notified law enforcement and the garden was destroyed, but the shooters have not yet been identified or located. In San Luis Obispo County, sheriff's deputies took a man into custody after he fired at the officers during a raid of an illegal garden.

On Tuesday, two suspects were killed in Shasta County after they took aim at law enforcement officers during a garden eradication effort. Today, in Butte County, local law enforcement agents encountered three armed suspects. Early reports indicate officers killed two suspects and the third has been taken into custody. The Shasta and Butte county gardens contained between 8,000 and 30,000 plants each and are believed to have been under the control of Mexican national drug organizations.

"Illegal gardens average between 2,000 and 3,000 plants," says CAMP Commander Val Jimenez. "But we also have seized illegal grows that are better described as plantations with well over 10,000 plants."

Through the CAMP program, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are working to remove these dangerous grows in California. In just the past few weeks, agents have destroyed over 325,000 plants, made 11 arrests and seized 27 weapons.

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