Monday, October 05, 2009

Large marijuana grows in North Texas run by Mexican drug gangs

This development merits watching; it could foretell a turning point where Mexico's cartel problems begin much more tangibly to become American ones. Reports McClatchy News:
Mexico’s nimble drug cartels are leapfrogging tightened border security and establishing sophisticated marijuana-growing operations in North Texas and Oklahoma, law enforcement officials say.

"There is no doubt" that three big marijuana fields uncovered this month in Ellis and Navarro counties "have a tie to the border and a Mexican drug cartel," said a drug investigator for the Department of Public Safety. "They brought the tenders up here from Mexico to do the work.

"This is not Joe Bob growing some marijuana to smoke. These are professional drug operations," said the investigator, who asked not to be identified for security reasons.

The traffickers’ farming operations, known as "grows," have been an increasing problem on public lands in California and other Western states for some time. But it’s only been in the last two years that the cartels have started to cultivate densely planted plots in North Texas and eastern Oklahoma, law enforcement officials say. ...

This month alone, sheriff’s departments in Texas’ Ellis and Navarro counties found three irrigated, fertilized and manicured pot-growing operations near Ennis and Corsicana.

More than 16,000 plants have been uprooted from the sites, said Duane Steen, an assistant commander of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Narcotic Service in Austin.

Last year, a 12,000-plant operation found in Ellis County was the first sign that Mexican drug cartels have branched out from smuggling marijuana to cultivating it in Texas, Steen said.

The Piney Woods of East Texas was where investigators usually found pot patches, Steen said. "The old operations were local: The guy grew up in East Texas and decided to grow a little weed," he said.

What’s being found now is on a different scale.


Anonymous said...

Seems to me it would make much more sense to allow this stuff to be grown legally by farmers and then tax it when its sold.

Nixon appointed a commission to study marijuana. The commission developed a report concluding that there was no good reason for the government to regulate personal use of marijuana. That wasn't what Nixon wanted to hear so he threw the report in the trash. How much money has that cost us in the decades since? How many people have we needlessly incarcerated over this silly issue? How many fathers and mothers have we separated from their children for years over a little marijuana? How many people have been kept from getting good jobs to support their families because they were once caught with a little weed? How many doctors, lawyers, police officers, politicians, smoke weed regurlary without getting caught?

Historyscoper said...

Whether or not the U.S. wakes up and decriminalizes marijuana and other drugs, it will never solve the U.S.-Mexico border problem without making the border go poof by incorporating Mexico as 10+ new states sans the Mexican federal govt. which has been bought off by the drug and other cartels and fatcats. If you don't know already, learn about my nonpartisan Megamerge Dissolution Solution proposal, showing the whys and hows including how the Obama admin. can do it starting as early as 2010.


doran said...

History scoper I will check out your website and your ideas later this evening. But preliminarily, your idea sounds something like a New Republic of The Rio Grande.

Old ideas die hard, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

When I see this news, it makes me think of the recent 2009 report from showing more Texas students in every major city are now using marijuana than tobacco cigarettes. We've been banning the marijuana market for decades, yet can anyone show a single documented case where an elected official, notable public health group or law enforcement association has called for a similar national ban on the alcohol and tobacco markets??

PirateFriedman said...

Good to see jobs coming back to America.

dirty harry said...

From the article:
- - - - -
"There is no doubt" that three big marijuana fields uncovered this month in Ellis and Navarro counties "have a tie to the border and a Mexican drug cartel," said a drug investigator for the Department of Public Safety. "They brought the tenders up here from Mexico to do the work."
- - - - -
Oh, so there is a connection between illegal immigration and drugs. Duh!

Also from the article:
- - - -
Mexico’s nimble drug cartels are leapfrogging tightened border security and establishing sophisticated marijuana-growing operations in North Texas and Oklahoma, law enforcement officials say.
- - - - -
I can tell you what they are doing to help facilitate this. They are stealing privately-owned small aircraft, and using them to make quick trips across the border and back for scouting and monitoring these fields. Aircraft theft in the border states is a much bigger problem that it once was. Our aircraft registration and flight monitoring system is such that you can't keep a stolen aircraft hidden for very long in the US. However, once it makes it across the Mexican border, forget about it. And, Mexico to North Texas or Oklahoma is a non-stop trip for many light aircraft. And, a quick fuel stop at a rural airport on the way would most likely go undetected.

In both cases, it's a border security problem. Lock down the border, and you will put a huge dent in the Mexican drug trade. Not to mention, put a crunch on the amount of stolen aircraft and other stolen goods headed to Mexico.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dirty, the much bigger connection between illegal immigration and drugs is that when we tightened the borders against illegal immigration, people who previously came over on their own began to use coyotes who worked for the same crime syndicates as the drug smugglers. So it added an income stream - from human trafficking - to their drug smuggling profits. And it gave them access to free labor from immigrants who traded servitude on the US side for smuggling fees, which is probably how these North Texas grows were staffed.

Stepping out of the say-anything realm of blog comments and returning for a moment to the real world, how do you propose they "lock down the border"? Don't you think they've tried? Have you ever BEEN to the border? They've built the wall, they've expanded the Border Patrol beyond what they can afford to staff. They've thrown more bodies and money at the problem that at any time in history, but that has solved nothing because official corruption, on both sides of the river, facilitates cross-border smuggling.

As long as that's true, the border IMO can't realistically be "locked down." And even if there was zero corruption, ICE only inspects a small percentage of traffic and even that backs up northbound transit (mostly commercial) for miles south of the river at the busiest times. Texas' economy is heavily entwined with Mexico's, particularly in the southern part of the state. That's just Border Economics 101.

PirateFriedman said...

The main thing I get out of Dirty's comments: if people like him control the GOP, we're talking 30 years of Democratic majorities.

I think Bush and Rove had some good ideas on how to bring Latinos into the GOP. It can be done, but the anti-immigrant wing of the party will bring them down.

dirty harry said...

You talk like using coyotes for human trafficking is something new. It isn't some new tactic that just happened because we slightly (and, I do mean slightly) increased border security. Coyotes have been in business ever since there was illegal immigration.

And, no, we haven't been serious about tightening the border. If we were, we wouldn't have the problems we have now. I know I can cross the border at will, anytime I want, and not have to say "boo" to anybody. If this country were serious about border security, the state of Texas wouldn't be spending our own resources on it like we are. Border security requires a lot more than just a physical barrier. You have to also stop giving the illegals a reason to come here. I know if the state of Oklahoma can make them leave in droves, Texas and the rest of the US certainly can.

But, if you want tips on how to secure the border, talk to the Israelis, and people who lived in East Germany before the wall came down.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dirty, denial isn't an argument. The way I've stated it is what happened. Coyotes have always been with us but the practice wasn't merged with the large cartels until the last few years under the latest immigration crackdown. It's just what happened.

However, your point about East Germany is very well taken. We could probably "lockdown the border" if we were willing to live in a totalitarian state that 100% eliminated commercial traffic across the river and spied on all its citizens with a Stasi-style secret police. I think most people would find that alternative undesirable and perhaps even anti-American, but I applaud you for having the guts to admit that's what would be required and owning it.

dirty harry said...

Coyotes merging with the drug cartels didn't happen within the last few years. It has been happening ever since drug cartels figured out they could use human "mules" to carry drugs across the border. And, that has been for several decades now.

And, no, we don't have to be a communistic totalitarian govt to secure our own borders and control illegal immigration. Your deflecting from the point by assuming such nonsense. Other democratic countries do a much better job of controlling illegal immigration than we do, because they actually take it seriously.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dirty, besides totalitarian East Germany, who do you admire on border security? Israel is also not a great example, being the planet's last apartheid state. So please identify some other nation whose immigration policies we should replicate?

The real solution to illegal immigration is to increase immigration quotas to match labor supply needs and expand the federal workforce dedicated to processing applications more quickly. Letting Mexicans legally emigrate would bypass the smuggling gangs, boost the tax base, and reduce the negative consequences from human trafficking, whereas political efforts to "lockdown the border" only increase the going price for smugglers' black market services.

On the relation between coyotes and cartels, we must agree to disagree. You're talking about isolated incidents related to specific smuggling runs and I'm talking about the recent trend of ALL illegal immigration, not just drug mules, being cycled through organized crime gangs. All the testimony I've heard from DPS, homeland security sources, and in state and federal hearings on human trafficking have indicated that the market has changed in the past few years because many small-time, 'Mom and Pop' coyote outfits were eliminated or forced to work for the cartels. This change in the economic landscape is usually attributed to increased US enforcement and the emergence of hard-core enforcer groups like Los Zetas who began retaliating against those who'd bypass their authority, which has contributed to the last few years' body count.

Disagree if you like, but that's what happened.

Anonymous said...

Open borders!

Anonymous said...

Let's take one city to start with - Houston. What percentage of Houston is controlled by criminal gangs? 50%? 60%? Doesn't that % increase over time? Do we want to see that percentage keep increasing? What is a good percentage? 90%?

Anonymous said...

In many cities, gangs are too numerous for police to watch them all closely. Knowing that they are unlikely to be caught and punished, members can violate the law with impunity.

As the percentage of gangsters in a city increases it is likely that the police officers will be members of a gang.

dirty harry said...

You may not agree with their politics, but Eastern Germany and Israel are great examples of secure borders. I'm not talking about enacting a new set of draconian laws. I'm talking about enforcing the laws we already have. If we did just that, we wouldn't have an illegal immigration problem. Are you trying to say that agressively enforcing the laws we already have somehow turns us into a totalitarian state?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No dirty, I'm saying there's an element of extreme cognitive dissonance when your only examples of successful border lockdowns are states with totalitarian policies that would breach the US Bill of Rights if the same tactics applied here.

You then claim that simply enforcing the laws on the books would achieve the same result, but current laws on the books don't come close to the extremist totalitarian methods you've endorsed from East Germany, etc.. That said, US immigration laws are being enforced more aggressively today than at any time in recent memory, for whatever that's worth. But obviously that's not achieving results good enough to suit you. I realize you'd rather they declare martial law and search house to house, but not everyone agrees.

The reality is, while we're not yet a totalitarian state which is what you'd appear to prefer, there's a countervailing set of facts which are equally true and which explains why powerful business interests oppose your agenda: Immigration helps the economy more than it hurts it. Most of the harm comes from making immigration illegal (through too-low quotas), not from the fact of economic migration itself.