News Release
August 28, 2008
Contact: DEA Salt Lake City
PIO Michael J. Root
Number: 801-524-5031

Massive Marijuana Eradication Operation
Targets Southern Utah Outdoor Grows
Tens of Thousands of Plants Seized on Public Lands

AUG 28 -- (ST. GEORGE, UTAH) - Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Rocky Mountain Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced today the results of a major enforcement operation involving federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The operation targeted a large scale outdoor marijuana cultivation operation located in the Dixie National Forest in southern Utah, resulting in the seizure of tens of thousands of marijuana plants.

According to SAC Sweetin, on Tuesday, August 26, 2008, agents arrested Ignacio Rodriguez, a citizen of Mexico, charging him with drug and immigration offenses. Agents believe Rodriguez to be responsible for organizing, supplying, and providing labor for the numerous marijuana fields that were seized today. Rodriguez had been observed purchasing truck loads of fertilizer, large quantities of groceries, and other necessities - delivering the items to the remote grow sites.

On Wednesday, August 27, 2008, approximately one hundred law enforcement officers hiked into a dozen remote grow sites located in the Dixie National Forest, which is located about 35 miles north of St. George, UT. Officers spent the day cutting down the marijuana plants, collecting evidence, and removing trash left at the grow locations.

“The environmental damage caused to these pristine forest areas from the trash, chemicals, and plastic pipe left behind was significant,” said SAC Sweetin.

Rodriguez is now facing federal charges for cultivation and distribution of marijuana. This investigation is ongoing.

Other agencies involved in this investigation include the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, St. George Police Department, Washington County Drug Task Force, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Highway Patrol, Iron-Garfield County Drug Task Force, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Cedar City Police Department, Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force. The Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah National Guard, and the Nevada National Guard provided air support for the operation. Hundreds of man-hours were spent monitoring the grow sites throughout the spring and summer. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department provided a Command Center for the operation.

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