War in the Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America's Public Lands

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War in the Woods tells the story of the real dirt, guts, and sometimes blood involved in a perilous job: eradicating the illegal pot plantations that are fast turning once-pristine corners of America's state and national parks, national forests, and wildlife reserves into environmentally ravaged war zones. Featuring tales of actual drug busts told through the eyes of a gutsy game warden on the front line, it is a chilling and unforgettable read.

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War in the Woods tells the story of the real dirt, guts, and sometimes blood involved in a perilous job: eradicating the illegal pot plantations that are fast turning once-pristine corners of America's state and national parks, national forests, and wildlife reserves into environmentally ravaged war zones. Featuring tales of actual drug busts told through the eyes of a gutsy game warden on the front line, it is a chilling and unforgettable read.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“As the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I am well aware that drug trafficking organizations are using America's public lands to cultivate marijuana and are protecting their drug crops with dangerous booby traps. Brave law enforcement officers across the nation are confronting these traffickers, often at enormous personal risk. In War in the Woods, Lt. John Nores and James Swan describe in riveting detail the perils involved in eradicating marijuana in California. This is a compelling read that illuminates the dark side of criminal marijuana cultivation." —General Barry McCaffrey, ret., former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bill Clinton "Eradicating illegal pot groves on our public lands is not for the faint of heart or the badge-wearing political types looking for a pat on the back. Read War in the Woods, and you will begin to truly appreciate game wardens, the rare and endangered species of brave men and women doing a thankless job they know matters." —Marshall Teague, actor ("Armaggeddon," "American Heiress," "Road House”) "A terrifying, fascinating book. Not only is it a heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping page-turner, but it will leave you trembling with rage at how your land and your water and your resources are being stolen and despoiled by drug dealers who are perfectly willing to take your life too, if you go into the woods. Kudos to the extraordinarily courageous game wardens for their work, and to James Swan for his chronicle of their efforts." —Jameson Parker, writer and actor ("Simon and Simon") "War in the Woods tells a fascinating if little known story about how California game wardens are involved with other federal and local policing agencies in cracking down on illegal marijuana farms in California's valuable wilderness. It makes sense to involve game wardens in such interagency teams. Few police officers have the woodsman skills and knowledge of the local terrain in order to conduct arrests in wilderness areas, but game wardens do. . . . If you like action, you'll love reading these stories. The stories are fast paced, fascinating and demonstrate just how dangerous and violent clandestine marijuana gardeners can be." —Gary Mauser, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies, Simon Fraser University "War in the Woods brings to light the dangers and environmental devastation wreaked by illegal marijuana operations on public lands and puts you in the middle of the action as the 'Thin Green Line,' California's Fish and Game Wardens, fight bravely to protect our citizens and our fragile natural places." — Jared Huffman, Chair, California Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee “In nearly four decades of covering breaking news around the world, I’ve seen my share of hard men preparing to go into harm’s way. My blood started pumping when I began reading War in the Woods. The descriptions of tactical squads suiting up and checking the gear of their brother officers is the kind of action that prefaces mortal combat. The realization that these men were preparing for combat with invaders of our national forests, sometimes only a few hundred yards from unsuspecting Americans going about their daily lives, made my blood run cold. For three days in 480 B.C., 300 Spartans held off the entire Persian army at Thermopyale and became history’s most-cited example of the advantages of training, equipment and knowledge of the terrain to become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. Today, only 200 California Fish and Game Wardens are fighting to protect America’s public lands from drug dealers looking for their share of the estimated $38.5 billion dollar marijuana business. Today, they’re California’s Spartans, and War in the Woods tells their story—in their words." —Jim Shepherd, editor/publisher, The Outdoor Wire
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599219301
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,189,476
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lt. John Nores is a 17-year veteran California Fish and Game Warden who serves as the point man for California Department of Fish and Game anti-marijuana actions in the North Coast District. From June 2005 to the present, Nores has been Patrol Supervisor for three counties in the Central Coast of California. He currently conducts covert and overt operations and tactical surveillance and special operations training related to wildlife crimes, with a special focus on marijuana eradication. Under his leadership, more than 600,000 marijuana plants have been removed from Santa Clara County since 2003. In 2008, Nores received the Medal of Valor from Governor Arnold Schwarznegger for his leadership. James Swan has authored eight nonfiction books, penned a column for ESPNOutdoors.com, and recently produced a 66-minute documentary, "Endangered Species: California Fish and Game Wardens."

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Table of Contents

Foreword viii

Introduction xvii

Chapter 1 Palassou Ridge: The MET Meets for the First Time 1

Chapter 2 Gunfight on Sierra Azul: One Man Down 17

Chapter 3 Montebello Foot Pursuit: Light Runners and a Patrol Dog Come to the Rescue 55

Chapter 4 Bohlman Road Gunfight: Déjà Vu Above the Quiet Suburbs 74

Chapter 5 Day Mountain and the Arroyo Hondo: The Toughest Find Yet 93

Chapter 6 Fay Creek Operation: Fish and Game Teams Take the Lead 126

Chapter 7 Sanborn Park: Imminent Danger Close to a Kids' Camp 153

Chapter 8 Environmental Restoration and Prosecution: Taking Back Our Wildlands 171

Afterword James A. Swan 183

Resources 195

Index 197

About the Authors 201

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Highly Recommended - very intense, action packed, and informative!

    This book provides a firsthand perspective of the challenges faced by game wardens in California. If you enjoy the environment and conservation read about the destruction taking place in California and learn what is being done to stop it. This book is the bomb!

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    "Wild Lands Exploitation by Foreign Drug Cartels!

    Author John, Nores does an extraordinary and brilliant job in writing and presenting such an incredible and intense story of "War in The Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America's Public Lands in California. A glimpse of dangerous clandestine drug operation missions conducted by California Fish and Game Wardens and Federal & Local Joint Intra-Agency, Marijuana Eradication Team (MET) members. I've seen my share of warriors preparing to go into harm's way! The detail descriptions of these special operation team members suiting up, checking their weapons & equipment and planning their missions prior to going onto their operations, is one that brings to me many memories having served in U.S. Army Special Forces Counter-Drug operations overseas. Altogether the story is fascinating action packed and immediately captures my attention, as I am able to envision every scene, as if I were part of the team members moving through the woods during their clandestine operations. My heart begins to beat faster, as my blood starts pumping harder, as John Nores and his special operations team members moved closer for the kill or chase to capture of drug cartel operatives. You can read and witness the horrors of death and fear in combating drug cartel operatives in our own national forest. The characters are so realistic, that I could feel, smell and share their emotions during their survival and facing death from this phenomenal enemy and hostile environment in our public lands! California Fish and Game Wardens, the unsung heroes of our national wild lands, are the first line of defense. I salute these men for their extraordinary and courageous work in combating clandestine marijuana operatives in exploitation and destruction of our public lands. A "Must Read" to understand the dedication, service & sacrifice our Law Enforcement Officers, are making in order to protect our Wild Lands & Natural Resources from Wildland exploitation by foreign drug cartels. A first hand look, behind the headlines at the reality of the difficult challenges California Fish & Game Wardens face as they defend America's Wild Lands Environmental Natural Resources! Regulo Zapata Jr. Author of "Desperate Lands"

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  • Posted November 23, 2010

    READ this book!!!

    This book is incredible -- detailed, well written, and very, very disturbing. It tells the story of a little understood and less publicized battle being fought, right now, against organized crime cartels destroying public and private lands alike, and the imminent danger they pose to those who might unwittingly stumble onto their operations. In chapter after chapter, Lt. John Nores takes the reader through one hairy encounter after another, where specialized teams of tough, stealthy, smart, and well organized and equipped operators go headlong into the fight against an often hidden foe who seems to have all the advantages. Well, all the advantages except lots of guns, and the element of surprise, that is. I simply could not put this book down, and it infuriated me to no end to know that this stuff goes in in some of the very same places I have hiked and enjoyed for years. It is a mystery to me why this is not a better publicized problem, why there are as few operators doing this job as there seem to be, and why more isn't being done about it. This is a life-and-death battle that should be better understood by all. Again, READ THIS BOOK.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2010

    Excellent read

    I picked up this book after seeing the author at a book signing in San Jose and I'm glad I did. I don't normally read books dealing with law enforcement, but I found myself unable to put this book down. The experiences the author describes are amazing! What makes it even more interesting to me is that the stories happened right around the area where I live. Law enforcement shootouts with Mexican Cartel marijuana growers just does not seem like something that would happen around here. It is disturbing what they are doing to the forests and water resources in my county. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to educate themselves on a serious issue that is happening right in our backyard.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    An outstanding book and a fast-paced read!

    Most Californians are not aware that the Mexican Cartels have literally taken over many pristine park lands and private properties for the purpose of illegally cultivating marijuana, making it unsafe to conduct many outdoor activities in some places. Hikers, hunters, fishermen, mountain bikers, and property owners have fallen victim to armed cultivators in the last several years. Having been directly involved in this same battle for over seven years, I have seen the violence perpetrated by armed illegal aliens in large illicit marijuana grows, the diversion, poisoning, and theft of creeks and natural spring water, the environmental damage, and the riparian destruction that takes an enormous amount of effort and time to repair. Unfortunately the media is not always eager to publicize this information for a multitude of reasons. This problem is not going to go away by legalizing marijuana. On the contrary, I believe it will just drag the cartel-instigated violence north of the border into our great state. Just look at the ways the cartel enforcers deal with competition and opposition in Mexico. Lieutenant Nores has called it like it is. War in the Woods will make you angry, but it will be difficult to put down.

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