Mexican cartels poisoning US national parks through hidden pot growing operation
Nov 13, 2019 at 11:54 am #3618463John S.BPL Member
About 3,000 pounds of trash, including discarded clothing, propane tanks and spent cans of insecticide, in addition to three miles of plastic irrigation pipes and open bags of fertilizer were also discovered at the site, suggesting the operation had been in use for years, National Public Radio reported.Nov 13, 2019 at 3:01 pm #3618484
Makie it legal nationally. That should end any illegal growing operations. Individual states or locals could maintain illegality like alcohol is.Nov 13, 2019 at 3:20 pm #3618492Bob KBPL Member
A much more comprehensive report on the issue: https://www.npr.org/2019/11/12/773122043/illegal-pot-grows-in-americas-public-forests-are-poisoning-wildlife-and-waterNov 13, 2019 at 4:34 pm #3618505
This has gone on for at least a decade or more – why is this news now? Must be a slow news cycle – no new tweets to write about?
When shipping pot across the border became more difficult/expensive, the cartels started to grow it on public lands here in the US.
We quickly learned to be very careful not to go off trail in the areas where this is a known problem. There was even a spectacular shootout between the growers and law enforcement in the wooded hills above South San Jose back around 2005. It got a lot of press at the time.Nov 13, 2019 at 8:04 pm #3618523Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
This has been going on for a very long time.Nov 13, 2019 at 8:18 pm #3618526Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Back in the 1970s areas of the Trinity Alps were advised not to travel in because of grows. Same in Humboldt Redwood State Park. So decadesNov 14, 2019 at 3:27 am #3618588
“When shipping pot across the border became more difficult/expensive, the cartels started to grow it on public lands here in the US.”
It has also been a serious problem in the SW quadrant of Sequoia NP near Mineral King, but at lower elevations. My solution? Turn our Special Ops guys loose on the ba$tards in legitimate defense of the Homeland, instead of squandering them in unwinnable wars overseas. Double taps tend to concentrate the minds of the survivors, so I doubt it would take very long for the cartels to get the message that it is time to take their act elsewhere.Nov 14, 2019 at 9:05 pm #3618721Tipi WalterBPL Member
I agree with Tom K—let’s bring hell to those bringing hell to others, i.e. cartels. Special Ops is all about this kind of fight.
And where I live in the TN/NC mountains we have armed hunters who would love to go on roving “human hunts” to eradicate these cartels in the mountains—the same mountains that have housed our ancestors for centuries. Maybe even form a couple dozen Cherokee Indian special ops squads.Nov 14, 2019 at 9:19 pm #3618729
the only problem with “the war on drugs” is the demand is insatiable. If you make it more difficult, the growers will just go to more effort.
Maybe bring home the special ops and have them build schools and hospitals : )Nov 14, 2019 at 10:32 pm #3618740Nov 14, 2019 at 10:33 pm #3618741Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Southern Indiana
Pot legalization in California hasn’t delivered anywhere near the amount of tax dollars that was promised. The black market is bigger than ever in the Golden State, and much of it has to do with the unbelievable number of applications, permits and fees that you have to go through in order to get a weed license. And legal pot shops just can’t compete with the non-taxed black market. Of course a staggering amount of CA buds are being driven to other states, way more than before legalization.
Supply and demand. The cartels know that practically nothing will happen to them if they get caught growing. They might be deported or get a slap on the wrist. Right now the environmental laws are the one that have the most bite in dealing with the Mexican growers.
Edit to Add: only 10% of California municipalities are allowed to sell legal weed. Oregon with 12% of CA’s population has more pot shops.Nov 14, 2019 at 11:50 pm #3618764
The Posse Comitatus Act
Thanks for that!
But we need to find a way to deal with this situation.
As has been pointed out already, this is not a new issue nor the most pressing issue facing us today. I don’t know enough to propose solutions.Nov 15, 2019 at 1:41 am #3618796
But we need to find a way to deal with this situation.
Agreed. My gut reaction is similar to Tom’s, but his solution (probably tongue in cheek) has serious implications.
About 20 years ago I did a trip in the Sonoran Desert National Monument (just east of Gila Bend, AZ and south of I-8) and was shocked to see several signs warning of potential dangers, including drug trafficking. Lots of evidence of drug and human smuggling and I ended up cutting my trip short. The area is managed by the BLM, which does not have the resources of the NPS or the USFS (both of which have been drastically underfunded for decades).Nov 15, 2019 at 3:49 am #3618821
“Agreed. My gut reaction is similar to Tom’s, but his solution (probably tongue in cheek) has serious implications.”
Only half tongue in cheek, Nick. I am aware of the Posse Comitatus Act, and the implications of violating it. I guess my tentative work around would be to call a state of emergency, attach Special Operations personnel to National Guard units, and dispatch them to deal with the situation. Before people react in horror, I might mention that National Guardsmen were called out back in the 1960s didn’t have much trouble shooting students at Kent or blacks in the streets of Detroit during the riots of 1967. Certainly the cartel thugs are far more deserving of harsh treatment. I could make a pretty good case that the drug situation is every bit as worthy of calling out the Guard as the Detroit riots were. Perhaps even better would be to go after the kingpins in their lairs in Latin America. We say we can’t because of our sorry past down there, but we don’t seem to have much trouble doing it in the Middle East on far flimsier pretexts since Bin Laden’s elimination. Anyway, probably best to go with the tongue in cheek interpretation, before this turns into another CHAFF food fight. ;0)Nov 15, 2019 at 4:41 am #3618861
agree with you on all points.Nov 15, 2019 at 5:25 am #3618892Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Tactical military actions rarely solve social and/or economic problems. They just move them around.Nov 15, 2019 at 3:01 pm #3618945W I S N E R !Spectator
Welcome to the blowback of a century’s worth of nonsensical, paranoid, racist, and hypocritical drug policy in the USA.
Cartels would have no place in the cannabis market (or national forests) in this country if, like in my city, adults can walk into a recreational dispensary and buy an 1/8th of high quality, organically grown, legal American cannabis for $20+ tax. Or simply grow a few plants of their own.
But no, the feds still think cannabis will lead to the fall of Western Civilization, all while rubbing elbows at banquet dinners with the likes of Purdue Pharma, Anheuser-Busch, Phillip-Morris, and other real cartels killing our kids and wrecking families. Take illicit activities out of the cannabis market and tell me it has a social impact anywhere near as high as alcohol, tobacco, and pharma.Nov 15, 2019 at 3:04 pm #3618946
Make it legal nationally. We could talk about all drugs, but it has to be done carefully and slowly implement, maybe start with marijuana
That worked with alcohol – when it was illegal, it precipitated all sorts of criminal gangs. When it was made legal again, the gangs dissipated for the most part.
Like Monte said, a lot of the CA problem is for marijuana for other states. And it takes a while to shift from illegal to legal.
In Oregon, there are billboards on the freeway saying to stop at the next exit and buy some weed. There is something wrong with that. There should be no advertising allowed. The pendulum has shifted too far in the direction of legality.
And there’s no way for police to determine if a driver is intoxicated. That problem needs to be solved.
They need to study if children are getting more weed and if so, do something about that. And other problems with abuse.
Marijuana legalization has not been a panacea, but the start of a process.Nov 15, 2019 at 5:07 pm #3618969Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Southern Indiana
Even with nationwide legalization, I still don’t think you’d see guerilla pot farming diminish by much. As long as the black market can provide cheaper prices for the same quality, illegal growing will be prevalent. Again, the expensive permits required for legal production incentivize illegal pot farming.Nov 15, 2019 at 8:32 pm #3618987
One article that reference the 2005 shootings in the Sierra Azul open space preserve near San Jose.Nov 16, 2019 at 1:37 am #3619021
“Tactical military actions rarely solve social and/or economic problems. They just move them around.”
Tactical is the key word here, IMO. No, of course, in the long run the results are exactly as you say. Tactically, they offer the prospect of a respite for us to deal with the root causes before they get even worse.
A huge plus 1 to Craig’s comments. The problem there is that on the rare occasions when they lose a court case, all they receive is a chump change fine. Instead, IMO, they should do hard time in a real prison, not Lompoc.Nov 22, 2019 at 7:37 pm #3620008Joshua SSpectator
“Forest Service budget cuts have left the agency without enough boots on the ground to stop more of the grows let alone help repair the damage. There are just six law enforcement agents to patrol the 2.2 million-acre Shasta-Trinity, California’s largest national forest.
A recent analysis by the group Headwaters Economics showed that visitation to U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land has risen by about 15% over the past decade, while budgets to support recreation in those agencies has fallen by a similar amount, as NPR has reported.”
The article from above makes it pretty clear getting more rangers on the ground (and in the air) would definitely help. They’ll stop growing in the forest if they’re busted every time before the crop has time to mature even if the penalties are insignificant. I don’t think it would take the military to solve this, just more funding for the forest service.
Inevitably they’d move somewhere else, hopefully somewhere with less impact — or maybe not having huge amounts of free land to grow pot on will raise the price of illegal pot to make it easier to compete, I think as more states legalize it and more companies jump in competition and easier regulation will force California to drive down their pot prices making the illegal market smaller, hopefully anyways.Nov 22, 2019 at 9:28 pm #3620020
“Even with nationwide legalization, I still don’t think you’d see guerilla pot farming diminish by much. As long as the black market can provide cheaper prices for the same quality, illegal growing will be prevalent. Again, the expensive permits required for legal production incentivize illegal pot farming.”
There is some illegal alcohol production, but not very much. No huge threat to the country.
If legal pot is too expensive then there’ll still be a black market.
In Oregon there are billboards saying “$3 grams”. I think this is cheap. There is supposedly several years of supply just being stored. I don’t think there’s much room for a black market.Nov 23, 2019 at 4:31 am #3620060
“The article from above makes it pretty clear getting more rangers on the ground (and in the air) would definitely help. They’ll stop growing in the forest if they’re busted every time before the crop has time to mature even if the penalties are insignificant. I don’t think it would take the military to solve this, just more funding for the forest service.”
That might work for domestic growers up in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, but it would be well to understand that Cartel operations are a different matter entirely. Those guys are armed to the teeth with military grade weapons. I know a guy up here in Washington State who worked on undercover drug detail for the King County Sheriff’s Department. They set up a bust one time, a duffle bag of cash placed in an agreed location to be exchanged for drugs, and had to back off when the Cartel guys showed up better armed than they were. It’s an entirely different game that requires a different set of players and a different set of rules, IMO.Nov 23, 2019 at 11:02 am #3620067Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
A tow driver I once met told me his story. He was being paid to retrieve cars which had gone off the road and down the side of the hill on a mountain route. So down he went towards a car – and was met by 2 guys with weapons. He backed off quickly, and then rang the cops. Two highway patrol guys went down full of confidence to investigate, and came under fire. So the cops called in a full SWAT team, choppers and all. Down in the valley they found a full plantation, pumps, field, shed, the works. Not to mention armed defenders. A major drug bust. Ha – that was before Google Earth!
A walker friend told me his story too. He was solo walking in some rough country (in Wollemi) and was bailed up by a guy with a gun. He talked his way out of that, with some difficulty, and he too rang the cops when he got out. Turns out the cops knew about the site, and were just waiting to catch the guy there. Another (successful) SWAT raid. We were there a week or two later, knowing nothing. Blimey. Glad we weren’t there earlier.
Mind you, we have come across small plantations in the bush so many times we have lost count. Some were ‘old’, some had been abandoned (or worked over by SWAT more likely), and a few we have destroyed ourselves. The Police and the Parks rangers have always been forthcoming with the details.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.