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The California Department of Justice Campaign Against Marijuana Planting uses this 1978 Hughes 369D Rotorcraft to assist in marijuana eradication activities Monday, Aug. 10, and Tuesday, Aug. 11. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Marijuana Enforcement Team directed an operation targeting outdoor illegal marijuana cultivations in the unincorporated areas of Anza and Aguanga Monday, Aug. 10, and Tuesday, Aug. 11.

The operation was supported by members from the Hemet Sheriff’s Station, the Riverside District Attorney’s Office Cannabis Regulation Task Force, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and Campaign Against Marijuana Planting.

The agencies conducted cannabis eradication activities on Bureau of Land Management lands in the Cooper Cienega Truck Trail area, south of Tule Peak Road, in Anza and Aguanga.

Heli-Flite Inc. provided helicopter services for the CAMP program troops during the operation. The 1978 Hughes 369D Rotorcraft was very active, transporting men and resources to the eradication area and trash and plants out of the remote location.

Gear is carefully laid out in preparation for use during the marijuana eradication activities. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Staged at the Caltrans yard in Anza, the helicopter shared the parcel with other resources to assist in the eradication activities.

Over the course of two days, the operation worked to eradicate illegal cultivation sites on over 580 acres of public and private land. Over 41,000 marijuana plants were eradicated. In addition, 600 pounds of processed marijuana were recovered.

The combination of processed marijuana and future harvest of the eradicated plants has an estimated street value of $38 million.

The CAMP program, along with local, state and federal partner agencies, continue to eradicate the large-scale illegal marijuana cultivations from public and private lands that cause deforestation, damage to wildlife habitats, pose any danger to residents or produce chemical pollution and contamination.

The Hughes 369D Rotorcraft lands in the Caltrans yard in Anza to refuel during the marijuana eradication activities. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

According to CAMP, the illicit cultivation of cannabis continues to be a major issue in the state. Drug trafficking organizations use California’s public lands to grow marijuana, diverting water resources, clearing and damaging public lands and destroying watersheds.

CAMP works with local agencies to eradicate large-scale illegal grow sites and remove tons of debris and dangerous chemicals from these areas. Illicit marijuana producers often kill off wildlife and poison the environment, damaging natural resources.

CAMP contracts with Heli-Flite Inc. for aircraft to assist in these law enforcement activities.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.

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