TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

More than 771 marijuana grow sites were found and 37,000 marijuana plants destroyed across Florida last year through the state’s Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program, according to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

This program, which prevents illicit drugs from entering Florida's communities and increases citizen and officer safety, also resulted in more than 700 arrests.

The eradication program is a joint effort between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency and local sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state.

“Our agency plays a significant role in safeguarding Florida’s 19 million residents from potential threats,” said Putnam. “Our partnership with local law enforcement on this initiative helps prevent marijuana from getting to our communities, making them safer for everyone.”

In 2012, county and local law enforcement agencies reported the detection and dismantling of 771 indoor and outdoor grow sites, resulting in the eradication of 37,388 marijuana plants. In addition, 723 individuals were arrested and $1.7 million in assets were seized. In the 31 years since the Eradication Program began, this initiative has detected more than 36,624 illegal grow sites, eradicated more than 2.6 million marijuana plants valued at more than $4.2 billion, and resulted in the arrest of 16,646 cultivators in Florida.

The department received $500,000 of the seized assets from the DEA and distributed more than $436,771 to 54 sheriffs’ offices and 17 police departments in 57 counties to help offset costs of eradication efforts. Another $60,000 was used to train 122 law enforcement officers from 62 different agencies in detection and investigation of marijuana operations.