Southern Utah reaps benefits of zero-tolerance policy on marijuana grows

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher marijuana grow crackdown Southern Utah
Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher speaks on the marijuana crackdown, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 1, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
speaks on the marijuana crackdown, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 1, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
United States Attorney David Barlow speaks on the marijuana crackdown, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 1, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

HURRICANE – Thursday, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Land Management and local law enforcement agencies summarized the recent crackdown on marijuana grow sites in Southern Utah. Along with the collection of plants seized, firearms and valuable forest lands were reclaimed as well.

The grow sites are considered dangerous to the public because they are often maintained by individuals who have entered this country illegally, carry illegal firearms, have criminal histories and are tied to drug cartels.

DEA Special Agent Frank Smith speaks on the marijuana crackdown, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 1, 2012 | Photo by Chris Caldwell, St. George News

“These cases are resource-intensive,” United States Attorney David Barlow said. “There isn’t one agency, state or federal, that can handle them alone.”

Grows also have negative environmental impacts due to the amount of fertilizers used, which have the potential to poison nearby water supplies and disrupt the balance of the area’s ecosystem. Growers often pump water miles into the wilderness, which cuts into already scarce water resources.

The revenue generated by these grows often leads to an increase in violent gang and cartel activity.

“(Grows are) the largest yielding profit a cartel has,” DEA Special Agent Frank Smith said. “If you (combine) their heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, it still doesn’t come to the total amount of revenue produced by marijuana grows.”

Washington County Sheriff’s task force seizes marijuana grow in the Browse region of the Dixie National Forest, Washington County, Utah, Aug. 24, 2012 | Photo by Dallas Hyland, St. George News

The combined efforts of the agencies involved in the crackdown have been aggressive, thorough and effective in reducing the number of grows in this area, and minimizing the amount of illegal profit gained at the cost of Southern Utah’s lands and public safety. According to statistics released by the Utah Department of Justice, 52 illegal grow sites have been raided and 77 related arrests have been made in the last five years. These grows contained over 372,000 plants, each with an estimated street value of $2,000.

The zero-tolerance policy being enforced by area officials in regards to these grow sites has had a measurable impact on associated crime. Although this is an ongoing battle, the combined efforts of those involved continue to keep Utah safe, as well as set a precedent to other states in their fight against the drug trade.

“That’s what we are out there trying to protect,” said Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher. “We want to make sure our citizens are taken care of, that they can go out and recreate and enjoy the public lands we have here in Utah.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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14 Comments

  • Pass Tha Joint November 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Hahahaha, A for effort, but uh, you’ll NEVER win this endless war on a HARMLESS HERB!!!!!!!

    • Jade November 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      AMEN Brotha! ONE LOVE and PEACE to all 🙂

  • WithdrawConsent November 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

    — George Orwell

  • Gustavo Picciuto November 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    “…“(Grows are) the largest yielding profit a cartel has,” DEA Special Agent Frank Smith said. “If you (combine) their heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, it still doesn’t come to the total amount of revenue produced by marijuana grows.”…”

    So in essence wouldn’t you agree that if you legalize Marijuana and have the production in our hands that these dangerous drug cartels would be hurt financially and greater impact their range of violence here in the United States??? Instead of wasting tax payers dollars and your time to enforce more important laws we should legalize and market marijuana to OUR advantage and there will not be a need for more fly by using very expensive helicopters and gasoline nor the need to have your finest police officers and agents basically doing some very very expensive gardening work and they’ll be able to concentrate their efforts in real crime. I’m sure these fine men and woman did not sign up to be in law enforcement to be weeding grass all day in a field in the middle of nowhere.

    • Jade November 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      Seriously though, right?! Weed is such old news. Everybody and their dogs smoke it around communities everywhere! Get real, law enforcement

  • Tyler November 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Why …isn’t this legalized for … sake?! Let’s move on to real issues in this country!!

  • Midnight Toker November 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I won’t say business names, but I work in one of THE busiest public places in town and easily 8 of 10 people I work with (there’s around 350 employees) smoke the green on the daily. This day and age, it’s ridiculous this is still considered a crime. One can get this on the streets about anywhere and trust me, this town like most, is a pot smoking haven!

  • Ron November 3, 2012 at 7:18 am

    ” . . . grow sites are considered dangerous to the public because they are often maintained by individuals who have entered this country illegally, carry illegal firearms, have criminal histories and are tied to drug cartels.” The best way to keep these guys out of here? LEGALIZE!

  • Andy November 3, 2012 at 7:45 am

    “The grow sites are considered dangerous to the public because they are often maintained by individuals who have entered this country illegally, carry illegal firearms, have criminal histories and are tied to drug cartels.”

    This is why it should be legal! Let every adult legally grow and possess and cartels profit shrinks by over 30% says a Mexican think tank who is concerned for the safety of its citizens caught in “the drug war”.

  • william November 3, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Mr. X, a 19-year-old single white male presents complaining of apathy, lack of motivation, and an increasing sense of social isolation. He tried marijuana for the first time at age 15, when he was a junior in high school and quickly started smoking on a daily basis. He would spend nights and then days with friends, getting “stoned,” experiencing the “giggles” and relishing the inevitable “munchies.” He quickly noticed that smoking marijuana seemed to quell feelings of anxiety he experienced in social settings. Having graduated from high school a year earlier, he describes unfulfilled plans to attend college, which were foiled by his inability to submit the requisite applications. He describes half-hearted attempts to secure employment and now resides in the basement of his parent’s house, supported by them.

    • Ron November 3, 2012 at 8:36 am

      So what’s your point, William? Obviously, Mr. X had no problem getting the weed, despite our extensive enforcement efforts. And if marijuana hadn’t been available, would he have maybe started drinking? Are you sure smoking marijuana is the cause of Mr. X’s problem? I would look for emotional issues that might have led to the dependency you describe.

    • Midnight Toker November 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

      And? Let each live his life how he chooses, what’s it to you or anybody?!

  • knowa November 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Governmental Treason against the constitution, welfare for cops addicted to human to human rights violations

  • Dr Andrew White November 4, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I don’t light up the herb. But I do support the legalization of it. As others have reported, if we can grow our own legally, the cartel revenue stream is cut and they have no reason to be here.

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