Announcement: 400K pot plants seized in Central Valley operation

Announcement: 400K pot plants seized in Central Valley operation
Kern County deputies find 277 mature marijuana plants at a "commercial-style" grow roughly 20 miles south of Lake Isabella and 40 miles east of Bakersfield in this August 2011 file photo. (Photo courtesy of the Kern County Sheriff's Office)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Authorities announced Wednesday an ongoing operation to eradicate marijuana grown on agricultural land in the Central Valley.

Called the "first of its kind," Operation Mercury has resulted in an overall seizure of more than 400,000 marijuana plants, federal and local officials said. Previous operations targeted marijuana grown on public land, according to officials.

Operation Mercury began in March and is still underway. It involves contributions from the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Game, California Department of Justice, California Department of Fish and Game, California National Guard, and detectives and deputy sheriffs from Kern, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties.

More than 100 firearms have been seized and more than 175 people have been arrested in the course of Operation Mercury, according to a joint news release.

"Operation Mercury targeted large-scale marijuana grows operating on the Central Valley's highly productive farmlands resulting in significant seizures and numerous arrests. This operation should send a clear message that marijuana cultivation and distribution remain illegal under federal law," DEA special agent in charge Anthony D. Williams said in the news release.