A police helicopter commonly used in the DEA's cannabis eradication program.

Bernard Spragg, NZ

DEA Destroyed 5M Plants, Arrested 5,657 People in 2016 Cannabis Eradication Efforts

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2016 Final Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program report, the agency destroyed nearly 5 million outdoor-cultivated cannabis plants and seized more than $51.9 million in assets linked to illegal cannabis operations in the U.S.

The federal law enforcement agency eradicated a total of 5,528 illegal outdoor cannabis cultivation sites in 2016, the bulk of which in California where the DEA eliminated 1,483 such operations. Ohio ranked second in the U.S. regarding eradicated illicit cultivation sites, with 518. California also ranked first in the total number of outdoor-cultivated plants destroyed with 3,465,028 of the 4,942,797 total throughout the nation. Kentucky ranked second with 549,818.

The DEA also shut down 1,865 indoor cultivation sites, with 634 of those located in California; Michigan ranked second with 207 sites. In total, the agency destroyed 406,125 cannabis plants cultivated indoors.

The enforcement action by the DEA led to 5,657 arrests, with 2,002 of them coming in California. Kentucky saw 691 arrests linked to the cannabis eradication program; while Indiana ranked third with 407; followed by Michigan’s 274, and Virginia’s 253.

According to an analysis by NORML, the seizure totals are the most since 2011 and represent a 20 percent increase of 2015 figures.

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