Cannabis Enforcement Program Targets Illegal Operations On Public And Private Lands

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) spearheaded several cannabis enforcement investigations in August and September.

From Sept. 4-8, MET officers targeted several illegal cannabis operations on rural private lands in Shasta, Tehama and Sutter counties. Officers received a tip from a hunter who stumbled on one of the trespass grow sites and reported it. As a result, MET officers eradicated more than 5,500 illegal plants, arrested four suspects, seized several firearms including one stolen handgun, dismantled several water diversions and removed thousands of pounds of trash. Support was provided from CDFW’s Air Services and K9 Units, as well as the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Eradication and Prevention of Illicit Cannabis (EPIC) task force.

“Many recreationists who venture into California’s backcountry are our best eyes and ears for reporting poaching, pollution and illegal cannabis cultivation on public land,” said Nathaniel Arnold, Acting Chief of Enforcement for CDFW. “These enforcement actions not only provide public and consumer safety, but they also combat the illegal cannabis supply chain. I could not be more proud of these dedicated officers.”

With information received through CDFW’s confidential CALTIP program, MET officers conducted an operation on CDFW property at the Putah Creek Wildlife Area in Solano County on Aug. 24. With assistance from CDFW’s Air Services Unit and Unpiloted Aircraft System (drones), officers eradicated 809 illegal cannabis plants, airlifted 1,140 pounds of trash from the area, dismantled an illegal water diversion, seized one loaded assault rifle, and removed an assortment of chemicals and fertilizers found near a tributary. Support was provided by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

On Aug. 9-11, MET officers conducted operations on U.S. Forest Service land in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. During the week, officers dismantled multiple illegal water diversions, seized multiple containers of restricted pesticides and documented dozens of environmental crimes.

Officers also eradicated 5,967 cannabis plants, destroyed over 157 pounds of processed cannabis, and removed 1,970 pounds of trash, 300 pounds of fertilizer and 1,780 feet of irrigation pipe. Five suspects were arrested, one was armed with a handgun and one was armed with an assault rifle. Assistance was provided by the DOJ’s EPIC task force.

Developed in 2013, MET was CDFW’s first statewide special operations law enforcement team with the primary duty to protect public safety and California’s natural resources, particularly those threatened by environmental crimes associated with illegal cannabis cultivation on public lands.

CALTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. If you have information about such a violation, call (888) 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Learn more about illegal cannabis grows on public land (PDF)(opens in new tab).

Cannabis Enforcement Program