Busted: Law Enforcement Task Forces Wipe Out 71 Marijuana Operations in Kings Canyon National Park

A two-week operation involving various law enforcement agencies has wiped out 71 marijuana growing operations in Kings Canyon National Park and led to the arrests of more than 80 individuals tied to Mexican drug cartels.

Working with 15 other agencies, National Park Service law enforcement personnel were able to destroy more than 400,000 pot plants, confiscate 32 weapons, seize nearly 50 pounds of processed marijuana, and seize three vehicles and more than $40,000 in cash.

The operation, nicknamed Operation S.O.S. (Save Our Sierra), focused on northern portions of the national park as well as a highway corridor linking the park's two front-country subdistricts.

“Collaboration between these multiple agencies has made Operation S.O.S. the huge success,” said Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent Craig Axtell, “Organization and professionalism enhance officer safety in the field and the public’s safety at large. We really appreciate the emphasis S.O.S. placed on the major resource threat that marijuana cultivation presents to our public lands. ”

According to the Park Service, drug trafficking and associated support activity has been detected with increasing frequency by Kings Canyon rangers in recent years. Much of this illegal activity has occurred along the Highway 180 corridor between the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon.

In addition to staff from Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, those participating in the operation included Park Service personnel from Yosemite National Park and throughout the region from the Pacific West Regional Special Events and Tactics Team (SETT).

This is the second year the parks have participated in a major, interagency eradication operation. Those two operations were responsible for eradication of more than 900,000 marijuana plants with a street value of $3.6 billion.