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Pot Farms A Growing Problem

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The Drug Enforcement Administration says outdoor marijuana growing operations are damaging public and private land in San Diego County. So far this year, a local-federal task force has found nearly 20

Pot Farms A Growing Problem

(Photo: DEA Agent carries marijuana crop in San Diego County / Courtesy DEA)

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The Drug Enforcement Administration says outdoor marijuana growing operations are damaging public and private land in San Diego County. So far this year, a local-federal task force has found nearly 200 outdoor illegal marijuana growing operations in the county.  KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

San Diego County Marijuana Eradication

Outdoor Grow Statistics Indoor Grow Statistics Grow Sites: 197
Plants: 289,106
Processed Marijuana (lbs): 60
Arrests: 41
Weapons: 60
Cash Seized: $41,000
Property Seized: $620,000
Equipment Seized: $65,000
Grow Sites: 59
Plants: 15,150
Processed Marijuana (lbs): 75
Arrests: 92
Weapons: 36
Cash Seized: $190,015
Property Seized: $3,600,000
Equipment Seized: $354,500

The DEA says it has seized nearly 290,000 marijuana plants from outdoor growing operations on public and private land.

DEA Agent William Sherman says more than one-third of those plants were found growing on forest service and bureau of land management property.

Sherman says the Narcotics Task Force is beefing up enforcement efforts in those areas.

Sherman : This is an area where NTF will continue to intensify our efforts and work with our forest service and BLM partners to halt the extensive environmental damage that these growers cause. And to assure that these parks and public lands remain safe for public use.

He says marijuana growers destroy the land when they clear away native vegetation and use toxic fertilizers.

Sherman: Fertilizer you can't purchase commercially here, they have triple X symbols and skulls and stuff on it, cause they've been brought across the border from Mexico. You can't even use those for commercial use here they're that damaging to the environment.

Officials say restoring the land costs about $11,000 an acre.

County Sheriff's Department Detective Steve Reed leads task force efforts to eradicate marijuana farms.

Reed says so far this year, the task force has seized $1.2 million worth of marijuana from indoor and outdoor operations.

Reed: San Diego Sheriffs Department in conjunction with NTF-DEA is going to continue to attack these marijuana growers and take the marijuana off the street.

The DEA says because there's so much rural land in the county, San Diego is a mecca for outdoor and indoor marijuana growers.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.