Over 60 law enforcement officers joined a multi-jurisdictional task force Thursday morning to begin taking down a major marijuana growing operation in the Sawtooth National Forest. Blaine County Sheriff Gene D. Ramsey said lawmen removed an estimated 11,100 plants spread across five separate growing plots on two sites. Altogether, they covered five acres of public land.
Ramsey placed the estimated street value of the pot at $27.75 million. Once the eradication process is complete, officers will remove the grow site debris which included irrigation system tubing, chemicals, kitchen and camping materials and other trash. He said evidence of drying areas and older fields indicates the grow had been operating for several seasons.
According to US Attorney Wendy J. Olsen, an eight week, multi-agency and multi-state marijuana operation called “Operation Mountain Sweep” has already eradicated over 48 thousand marijuana plants in Idaho this summer.
Olsen stated,”Criminals who conduct illegal marijuana grows endanger the public in three ways: first, by endangering citizens using public lands; second, by endangering our natural resources; and third, by growing marijuana which they then intend to richly profit from by selling illegal drugs to our citizens.”
Ramsey said the task force included officers from Blaine, Gooding and Camas County Sheriff’s offices, Sun Valley and Ketchum Police Departments, Idaho National Guard, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Drug Enforcement Administration officers.
“The SNRA (Sawtooth National Recreation Area) is one of the largest and most magnificent national recreation areas in the United States. Growing marijuana in our backyard is simply not acceptable. No arrests have been made at this time but law enforcement officials from multiple jurisdictions are vigorously working together with unprecedented cooperation to arrest and apprehend the individuals involved in this abuse of public lands,” said Ramsey. “We will protect our citizens and the recreational visitors who come here to appreciate our unique environment.”
Ramsey said the investigation is ongoing and certain details are not being released at this time.