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State's marijuana plant seizures up 20 percent from last season
SACRAMENTO - In the thick of California's illegal marijuana harvest season, agents have seized 742,684 plants with an estimated street value of more than $2.6 billion, already surpassing last year's season total by 20 percent, authorities said.
And the state Department of Justice's annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, or CAMP, is still a month away from wrapping up operations after the season peak at the end of September.
The raids, many in remote, forested terrain, pit agents against often heavily armed guards protecting their marijuana plots.
About three weeks ago, a grower was shot dead and a state Fish and Game warden was wounded during a raid on a 22,000-plant marijuana farm in the hills above Los Gatos.
The suspect was the fourth to die in a marijuana raid shootout with authorities in the past three years, and the incident marked the first time a law enforcement officer has been shot in CAMP's 22-year history.
As growing operations flourish on public lands throughout the state, more and more hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are coming into contact with armed guards protecting their plots, authorities said.