"Private Lands Are New Frontier in California's Pot Wars"

"A little-spoken-of war is taking place behind California's fences and property lines – trespassing marijuana growers are setting booby traps, resorting to violence and vandalism, and spoiling the land by stealing water and spraying dangerous chemicals that leach into streams.

As the federal government focuses on stopping illegal marijuana crops in public parklands and U.S. forests, local sheriff's and state drug enforcement officials face the persistent and potentially dangerous problem of pot growers commandeering private land for their crops.

"They're dangerous people, but we're in a situation, and I think they're very much aware of this, where we'd be shooting each other," said Rob Brown, a supervisor in rural Lake County. "They're armed more for the idea of protecting their families at home than they are for themselves. That's not a theory or opinion; that's an absolute fact."

While some land owners fear violence, others face environmental havoc."

Robert Townsend reports for California Watch April 23, 2011.

Monday, April 25, 2011