California Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Kicks off 2003 Season
10,000 plants valued at $40 million already seized
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Lockyer today announced the kick off for the 2003 Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) eradication program.
"This year, the CAMP team continues its efforts to rid our state of dangerous commercial grow operations," says Lockyer. "These illegal gardens are run like multi-national, multi-million dollar corporations. They are highly organized, efficient businesses that often use the profits from marijuana cultivation to finance other illegal drug trafficking operations like methamphetamine."
Under the direction of the California Department of Justice, the CAMP program this year brings together officers from nearly 70 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to locate and eradicate large outdoor marijuana operations in remote forested areas during the height of harvesting season. The marijuana growing season starts in mid-April, with harvests ending in late September or early October. To date, nearly 10,000 plants, with a wholesale value reaching $40 million, have been eradicated prior to the main harvesting season.
In the 20-year history of the CAMP program, agents have eradicated more than three million plants with an estimated wholesale value of $12 billion. In the 2002 season, CAMP seized a record 354,164 plants worth more than $1.4 billion.
"With each season we are perfecting techniques to locate and eradicate large marijuana planting operations," says CAMP Director Val Jimenez. "It isn't that there are more plants out there, we're better at finding the gardens."
Over the course of the season, CAMP will partner with many agencies to remove illegal commercial grows. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, California National Guard, county sheriff agencies and local police departments from across the state participate in the program.
During the past few years, CAMP agents are finding many more illegal gardens on public lands. Last year 56% of the plants seized were from national forests and other public recreational areas. Operations hidden on public lands put California's outdoor enthusiasts in danger of stumbling upon gardens protected by armed sentries.
A summary of CAMP seizures in 2002 and a statistical history of the program is attached.