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Game Wardens Taking On Cartel Marijuana Growers

A new 24-minute documentary WAR IN THE WOODS: Raid to Reclamation https://vimeo.com/212713167 has just been released by producer Rick Stewart of American Zealot Productions. http://americanzealotproductions.com/.

In WAR IN THE WOODS: Raid to Reclamation, Rick Stewart and his crew take the viewer on missions with the Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET), a recently developed special operations tactical unit of California game wardens. The MET introduces the viewer to a new world of outdoor public safety threats, egregious environmental crimes and widespread wildlife destruction. Throughout the documentary, the wardens show us the impact of marijuana cartel trespass cultivation operations the team has battled for the last three and a half years. Over that time period the team has gone on 583 missions, eradicated 2.1 million poisoned marijuana plants, arrested 745 armed felons, confiscated 433 illegal firearms, removed 335 tons of grow waste, fertilizers, toxic poisons and pesticides, removed 1.65 million feet (311 miles) of black plastic irrigation pipe and removed 614 illegal dams. Also highlighted in the story is the team’s lifesaving K-9 Phebe, who has 114 physical apprehensions in the last three years and over 700 additional arrests on armed and dangerous felons over her 11 year career.

While California has the greatest number of illegal marijuana grows on state and federal wildlands, as of 2015 at least 21 states and 67 national forests have also reported finding large trespass marijuana grow sites tended by organized crime. In addition to dangers to recreationists, these grows also typically use large volumes of illegal pesticides and fertilizers that poison water sources and consume considerable water that would otherwise be used by farmers and wildlife.

Little wonder then that according to the FBI, game wardens are now seven times as likely to be assaulted with a deadly weapon as a police officer or deputy sheriff.

Besides the 6.5 million NRA members who will have access to it on NRA TV, the documentary will also launch worldwide on Apple TV and Sportsman Channel. The film is the second in a two part documentary series that was inspired by the non-fiction book, WAR IN THE WOODS: Combating The Marijuana Cartels On America’s Pubic Lands by Lt. John Nores Jr. and James A. Swan, Ph.D. The book has been endorsed by Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Congressman Jared Huffman, and editor/publisher of the Outdoor Wire Jim Shepherd.

The situation in California is not unique for law enforcement protection for wildlands. There are fewer US Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents, about 250, than there are whooping cranes — about 340. Numbers of all state and federal conservation officers on wildlands are declining. A decade ago there were nearly 1000 Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s), today there are 550 to cover all the nation’s National Forests. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for managing more land than any other federal conservation agency and yet there are only 300 BLM law enforcement officers. There are 1500 Rangers for all the US Army Corps of Engineers made-made lakes and recreation areas for the entire US, and in most cases they do not carry firearms. In 2005 there were 1548 National Park Service Rangers. By 2014, there were 1,322 and less than 400 seasonal rangers. Right now there are approximately 7,000 state game wardens for the entire US; about as many men and women as the New York City Police Department deploys on Times Square at New Year’s Eve.

Fewer officers and more crime means that it’s increasingly dangerous to be a wildlands law enforcement officer. National Park Rangers and Forest Service Rangers have become the federal law enforcement officers most likely to be assaulted in the line of duty. For example, PEER, (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) reports that there were 34 incidents involving attacks on US park rangers in 1995, but by 2005 there were 477 – a 13-fold increase.
According to PEER, in 2012 reported assault incidents rose more than 40% in wildlife refuges and in areas patrolled by the U.S. Park Police, and by more than 12% in national parks, and many assaults were not reported in final tolls. And according to the FBI, game wardens are now seven times as likely to be assaulted with a deadly weapon as a police officer or deputy sheriff.

For media inquiries of WAR IN THE WOODS the documentary film contact: Rick Stewart at rick@americanzealotproductions.com

For media inquiries or a review copy of WAR IN THE WOODS the book, contact: James A. Swan at sgsprods@gmail.com

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