More than 3,500 marijuana plants — with an estimated street value of $5.25 million — were removed from an illegal grow site within Sequoia National Park earlier this week.
The raid conducted by law enforcement agencies on Wednesday found the site located in a remote area of designated wilderness. Photos of the raid released by the the National Park Service show marijuana plants growing in a grove of what appears to be Madrone trees, which grow in the foothills of the park, below 5,000 feet elevation.
The marijuana plants were destroyed. No arrests were made, but an investigation is ongoing, according to the park service.
High on the list of negative impacts for the park service was the environmental damage was caused by the cultivators. Vegetation around the area was thinned or removed and hillsides were terraced while trash, fertilizer and pesticides were left at the site.
The park service estimated that 10,000 gallons of water was diverted from the ecosystem daily.
This is nothing new. These kinds of well-organized drug-trafficking organizations have been operating in the park for more than a decade. In the past 14 years, close to 300,000 plants have been take from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
The estimated street value? $850 million.