On Wednesday a 5 acre marijuana farm located in Redwood National Park was raided by over 60 park rangers and other cooperating law enforcement officials. The farm was located less than six miles away from the world’s tallest tree. It is the first major marijuana growing operation to have been found in the well-known park.
The marijuana farm was located near an area known as Redwood Creek and contained an estimated 9,564 plants. They were immediately chopped down and removed by helicopter. A drug operation such as this one can be very hazardous to the environment as chemicals and fertilizers can significantly pollute park habitats. In a press release the National Park Service explained that “a graphic information system specialist went in with the raid teams for the first time in NPS history to perform an immediate evaluation of the impacts to natural resources during the raid. This documentation will be very beneficial for the restoration process.”
The plants growing on the illegal drug farm were estimated to be worth about $35 million dollars. The operation was first seen by an airplane flying above several weeks ago, and consequently the park’s staff was notified promptly. It is unclear for how long the farm had been operating.
Several Mexican citizens, 4 men and a woman, have been detained by law enforcement officials for questioning and are possibly connected to the operation. On the same day as the raid in the park, law enforcement officials also carried out several additional raids on growing operations nearby. Illegal drug operations are becoming increasingly more common in the U.S. inside and near national parks and forests. Raids are becoming a necessity.
An article published several days ago in USA Today quoted the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy as saying that 75%-80% of marijuana grown outdoors is on state or federal land. Mexican drug cartels are thought to be increasingly responsible for these illegal operations in national parks and on other protected lands. Smuggling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border has become more challenging for them.
Other national parks where large marijuana farms have also recently been found and shut-down include North Cascades National Park in Washington and Sequoia National Park in California.