Droit et Justice

Joint law enforcement operation results in major eradication in northwest New Mexico

           From Nov. 9 to Nov. 11, the FBI led hundreds of officers
in a large-scale, multi-agency law enforcement operation that took place
at 21 farms and two residences on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock. The
marijuana was housed in 1,107 grow houses, though dozens more were under

           During the court-authorized operation, agents eradicated
approximately 260,000 live plants and processed an estimated 60,000
pounds (30 tons) of evidence. Additionally, agents found 19 trash bags
filled with fully processed marijuana – 1,000 pounds – in baggies, ready
for distribution, hidden under a tarp in a grow house.

           “First and foremost, I want to congratulate all the
agencies involved in this operation, and especially those agents on the
scene,” said John C. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the District of New
Mexico. “The numbers are astounding, and that could not have been
achieved without a high level of interagency cooperation and
coordination. I am consistently impressed by the professionalism
displayed by law enforcement agents in the District of New Mexico. What
they accomplished over the past week is remarkable. We are proud stand
with the Navajo Nation in upholding and enforcing tribal and federal

           “I’m not sure what is more amazing: the amount of
high-grade marijuana we kept off America’s streets, or all the federal,
state, local, and tribal agencies who tirelessly worked together to
overcome numerous challenges and get the job done,” said James
Langenberg, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque FBI Division.
“One thing I know for certain: We made a huge difference not only on the
Navajo Nation, but in countless other communities. The FBI is extremely
proud to have been a part of this significant operation and thanks the
many partners who contributed to its success.” 

           “The top priority is the safety and well-being of our
Navajo citizens and law enforcement officers,” said Navajo Nation
President Jonathan Nez. “We appreciate everyone’s patience throughout
this process as the Navajo Nation, federal, state, and counties worked
together. It took a lot of time, coordination, and resources to execute
this operation over the last few days. On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I
thank the Navajo Police Department, Department of Justice, FBI, U.S.
Attorneys, and many others who dedicated their time to help our
communities eradicate these illegal activities.”

           « The coordinated efforts and tireless work of all involved
has brought the much-needed resolution to the marijuana operations and
has given the Navajo Nation citizens, as well as the surrounding
communities, peace of mind,” said Chief of Police Philip Francisco of
the Navajo Police Department. “This operation is a testament to the
professionalism of law enforcement, who have worked diligently to ensure
the safety of our communities. » 

           “Tackling the scourge of illicit drugs in tribal
communities has been a top priority for the Trump Administration with
Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs helping lead the way,” said
Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.  “I want to thank our
federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement partners for their
tremendous efforts in taking down this major operation and making these
communities safer.”

           “Through the cooperative efforts of federal, tribal, state
and local law enforcement partners, we have put a stop to a massive
marijuana grow operation, which was being carried out under the guise of
hemp farming,” said Kyle W. Williamson, Special Agent in Charge of the
Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division. “The persons running
this marijuana operation were doing so in disregard of tribal law, the
health and well-being of tribal members, and the natural resources of
the Navajo Nation. We thank community members for saying something when
they saw something.”

            “Large-scale growing operations, such as this one, can
pose a serious risk to human health and the environment,” said Special
Agent in Charge Christopher Brooks of the Environmental Protection
Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in New Mexico “Today’s action
sends a clear signal that EPA and its law enforcement partners are
committed to enforcing environmental laws that protect our communities.”

             “I am proud of the hard work and dedication contributed
to this operation by my officers and agents.” said Robert Thornton,
Chief of the New Mexico State Police. “The result of this unprecedented
effort serves to strengthen the cooperation between our federal, state,
and local law enforcement partners”

              “This case had many jurisdictional hurdles. Thanks to
the longstanding partnerships between federal, state and local law
enforcement, we came together to stop a significant criminal enterprise
in our community,” said San Juan County Sheriff R. Shane Ferrari. “San
Juan County is truly blessed to have these dedicated professionals to
keep our communities safe.”

              Federal agencies involved in the effort were the U.S.
Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, the FBI, the Drug
Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Environmental
Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division, U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the
Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal, state and local agencies included the
Navajo Police Department, the Navajo Department of Criminal
Investigations, the New Mexico State Police, the Region II Narcotics
Task Force, the New Mexico Army National Guard, the San Juan County
Sheriff’s Office, the Farmington Police Department, the Aztec Police
Department, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation.


Anyone who has additional information they wish to report relating to
this eradication effort may do so by contacting the FBI at
1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).

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