Theodore's World: One Of The Many Things Ramos and Campean Were Fighting Against!

« Paper or Plastic ....No Now It will Be Bag It | Main | Bush It Is Time To Dust Off That Veto Pen »

March 28, 2007

One Of The Many Things Ramos and Campean Were Fighting Against!

National parks' pot farms blamed on cartels
Mexican drug lords find it easier to grow in state than import
Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Friday, November 18, 2005 ...note the date and how long this has been going on

Article from here
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
11-18) 04:00 PDT Washington

Hikers in national parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon are encountering a danger more hazardous than bears: illegal marijuana farms run by Mexican drug cartels and protected by booby traps and guards carrying AK-47s.

National Park Service officials testified in Congress on Thursday that illegal drug production in national parks, forests and other federal lands had grown into a multibillion-dollar business in recent years -- mostly concentrated in California.

"These activities threaten our employees, visitors and our mission of protecting some of the nation's most prized natural and cultural resources," Karen Taylor-Goodrich, the National Park Service's associate director for visitor and resource protection, told the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks.

Last year, National Park Service officers seized about 60,000 marijuana plants, with an estimated street value of $240 million, from parks in California. About 44,000 pot plants were removed from Sequoia National Park near California's Central Valley. Another 10,000 plants were seized in Yosemite National Park.

The Park Service also has found pot farms and other drug trafficking activities in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in Shasta County as well as two Bay Area parks: the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore.

The increasing use of national parks and other public lands for illegal pot farming is part of a major shift in the marijuana trade. Ten years ago, almost all of the state's pot was grown in the "Emerald Triangle," an area encompassing Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties in Northern California, law enforcement officials said.

But Mexican drug cartels now are seizing on the state's mild climate and vast stretches of remote lands to set up pot farms across California. Tightened security on the U.S.-Mexico border has also convinced many drug gangs it is easier to grow marijuana in the state than to smuggle it into the country.

Park service officials said the drug cartels took extreme measures to protect their plants, which can be worth $4,000 each. Growers have been known to set up booby traps with shotguns. Guards armed with knives and military-style weapons have chased away hikers at gunpoint. In 2002, a visitor to Sequoia was briefly detained by a drug grower, who threatened to harm him if he told authorities the pot farm's secret location.

During a raid of an illegal pot farm in Santa Clara County in June, a California Fish and Game officer was wounded and a suspect shot and killed.

"In prior years, guards used to flee from Park Service law enforcement but now stand their ground with leveled guns using intimidation tactics," Laura Whitehouse, the Central Valley program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, told the committee.

The illicit pot farms can also cause environmental damage. Growers often cut trees, dig ditches, create crude dams on streams, and haul in plastic hoses and other equipment to irrigate the plants. Fertilizers and other chemicals used by growers pollute watersheds and kill native species. Last year, the Park Service spent $50,000 to clean up tons of litter, debris and human waste at pot farms that were discovered or abandoned.

Congress approved a slight increase in funding for Park Service law enforcement for next year, $3.6 million, $746,000 of it for drug eradication efforts in California parks. But federal and state officials say they still lack the money and personnel to patrol vast areas in and around the state's parks.

"It's a $2 billion or a $4 billion problem, and we're throwing $1 million at it," said Supervisor Allen Ishida of Tulare County, whose deputies seized 157,000 pot plants on public and private lands and made 28 arrests this year.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., the chairman of the national parks subcommittee, said it would be tough to find more money in the federal budget as Congress deals with rising deficits and is considering cutting many programs. He urged the Park Service to put more officers on drug eradication instead of "writing parking tickets."

Donald Coelho, the Park Service's chief of law enforcement, agreed that more money was not the only solution. He said a coordinated strategy by state, federal and local law enforcement officials ultimately could put a dent in the Mexican cartels' operations.

"Sometimes it takes time to work your way through an organization," Coelho said.

State narcotics officers and the Drug Enforcement Administration seized a record 1.1 million pot plants on public and private lands in California this year, up from 621,000 plants last year, through an aggressive campaign called CAMP, or Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. The street value of those drugs is estimated at $4.5 billion.

But state and federal officials said drug growers were adapting quickly -- for example, planting smaller pot farms that are tougher to spot from surveillance planes and helicopters. Some growers have responded to drug raids in Sequoia and other parks by moving their farms to nearby Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management lands.

Without a more comprehensive plan, "we are just shifting the problem from one jurisdiction to another," Ishida said.

Wild Thing's comment.........

Ramos and Compean are being used as a lesson to other border patrolmen. A lesson that shouts - don't use force of any kind to do your job - just let 'em go. This whole thing is unforgivable what those in power have done to these Border Agents. This is just one story of what is going on, there are tons of stories out there loaded with information on how bad it is.

Then add in all the murder and all the other horrible crimes that these illegals are guilty of in our country and most of them are not even caught.
And look at this about tuberculosis coming back.

Posted by Wild Thing at March 28, 2007 12:47 AM


Nothing good will happen on this "foreign trespassers" front until '08. And then only if we have a major overhaul in Congress and get a real Conservative in the White House. Big "ifs".

Too bad what is happening to our parks, but indeginous drug dealers have been doing the same thing for years.

These parks would be ideal training spots for our Special Forces personnel. They could run exercises to find and destroy these pot farms. The success would be great as they love training in the boondocks. They could be given incentives to track and capture dopers, although I know that no government entity would have the courage to grant SF troops arrest powers, let alone allow them to have live ammo. I know this would work and no drug cartel could stand up to roving, hunting teams of Special Forces or Rangers.

The same thing would work on our borders. Aggressive patroling by Special Ops forces would almost guarantee the border would be 90+% secured in a short time. Add in substantial fines to the employers of illegals and the whole problem would be basically solved in a matter of months.

Posted by: TomR at March 28, 2007 06:07 AM

Good point TomR, better not send in the Marines, they'd just kicked out anyway.

Only use the Marines if it, Absolutely, positively has to be destroyed over night. Another good motto is, When in doubt empty the magazine.

We got drug farms in our National Forrests ? Where are the environmental whacko-weenies, complaining,... Well they are driving truck for the Drug Cartels.

It is time we take our country back.

Posted by: Mark at March 28, 2007 09:33 AM

Tom, thank you. This whole thing is so very upsetting. I hate to see people do their jobs, take risks and then get blammed for something that I am glad they did to help our country.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 28, 2007 11:47 PM

Mark, yes I want our America back. I miss it so much.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 28, 2007 11:48 PM

'Your' America only ever existed in your head and in Norman Rockwell's fantasies.

Posted by: neil at April 1, 2007 11:46 PM