SACRAMENTO -- Twenty-six people were charged and nearly 60,000 marijuana plants were seized as the result of a yearlong operation targeting pot growers and distributors in Northern California, authorities said Thursday.

"Operation Safe Counties" targeted individuals and groups in Shasta and Trinity counties involved in pot cultivation on public and private lands and distribution throughout the U.S.

More than 2,100 pounds of processed marijuana, 70 firearms and more than $1 million in cash were also seized.

Sixteen defendants were charged by the U.S. attorney's office with felony drug offenses, and 10 others were charged by the Shasta County district attorney with drug and environmental crimes.

The illegal production pf "marijuana has significantly expanded in recent years," said Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko. "Illegal marijuana operations continue to be an imminent threat to our environment, our community, and to our citizens."

Bosenko was joined in announcing the results of the operation by U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and Trinity County Sheriff Bruce Haney.



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