PHOTOJOURNALISM: Illegal Marijuana Farming
Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is a multi jurisdictional task force created by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat marijuana growing on public lands including National Forests.
According to CAMP officials, California serves as the nation's main domestic source for marijuana production. In the 2005 growing season, CAMP officials say they destroyed more plants than ever--a staggering 1.13 million plants totaling a net worth of approximately four billion dollars of street value marijuana. Seventy percent of those marijuana plants were found on public land, the majority of that percentage was inside national forests.
In the past season, CAMP officers arrested over 48 criminals and seized nearly 50 weapons. In one incident, a CAMP officer was wounded and a gardener was killed in a shootout.
Mexican drug cartels employ sophisticated methods for hiding their every-growing number of marijuana plantations. In recent years the cartels have spread their crops over vast areas in secret locations figuring that CAMP officers would never be able to seize every single garden. The illicit crops can now be found across most of California. Months before the harvest season, the cartels send their gardeners to tend to the fields, grooming the plants and guarding the cash crop with weapons.