Pot worth $1 billion seized in county this year

By Debbi Baker
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — With the marijuana-growing season over for the year, the local U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced Tuesday that more than 378,000 marijuana plants worth more than $1 billion have been seized in the county since Jan. 1 by a multi-agency law enforcement task force.

That was down from last year, when 517,000 plants were confiscated. In 2008, 305,000 plants were seized.

The majority of pot confiscated by the San Diego County Integrated Narcotics Task Force’s marijuana eradication team came from 89 outdoor sites on private and public land, said Ralph Partridge, the DEA’s special agent in charge for San Diego. About 11,000 plants were seized from 76 indoor operations, he said.

In all, 118 arrests were made in connection with the pot-growing operations. The DEA also seized $700,000 in assets and money from drug-trafficking operations, Partridge said.

Law enforcement targets these operations because they’re dangerous, he said. People who illegally grow marijuana inside houses and buildings often cause electrical fires and steal electricity.

Outdoor pot groves are frequently booby-trapped or watched over by armed guards. “Hikers have had guns pointed in their faces,