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And they don't want us to pack in national parks...

Discussion in 'Legal' started by longeyes, May 14, 2003.

  1. longeyes

    longeyes member

    from the L.A. Times, 5-14-03:

    Park's Pot Problem Explodes
    Number of marijuana plants seized at Sequoia has soared. Officials say Mexican cartels
    linked to Mideast terrorists run the operation.

    By Julie Cart, Times Staff Writer

    SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — On the
    brink of the summer tourist season, officials here are
    confronting an ominous reality — multimillion-dollar
    stands of marijuana tended by armed growers who
    have menaced visitors, killed wildlife, polluted streams
    and trashed pristine countryside.

    Marijuana cultivation in the park has increased steadily
    over the last 10 years. Since 2001, however, the
    number of plants seized in the state's oldest national
    park has jumped eightfold.

    The pot fields are financed by the Mexican drug cartels
    that dominate the methamphetamine trade in the
    adjacent Central Valley, drug enforcement officials say.
    The officials say there is evidence that the cartels, in
    turn, have financial ties to Middle Eastern smugglers
    linked to Hezbollah and other groups accused of

    "This is the most serious and largest assault on this
    park since we took control of the land in the 19th
    century," said Bill Tweed, Sequoia's chief naturalist.
    The park was established in 1890, one week before
    Yosemite was designated a national park.

    "To have people out there showing up with AK-47s to
    greet visitors — that's not how it's supposed to be in a national park. The
    premise of the park as a special place is now in trouble. So is the idea that you
    can put a 'fence of law' around a national park." He added that the park is "not
    immune from the ills of society."

    The dimensions of the problem began to unfold last fall when park officials
    destroyed a marijuana crop valued at nearly $150 million scattered over remote

    "Our belief is that the Mexican drug organizations have gone heavily into
    marijuana operations," said Ron Gravitt, special agent in charge at the
    Sacramento headquarters of the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

    "The overhead is much lower than running a methamphetamine lab. They are
    taking the money from meth and putting it into expanding marijuana growing."

    Most of Sequoia's marijuana stands are hidden in the steep Sierra Nevada
    foothills in the lightly traveled southwestern reaches of the park. However, large
    plots have been discovered a dozen miles from park headquarters. Sequoia and
    adjacent Kings Canyon National Park are managed as one park encompassing
    1,350 square miles.

    Dennis Burnett, Park Service law enforcement administrator in Washington, said
    crime has been on a "constant march" into national parks. Almost 60% of the
    marijuana plants eradicated in California last year were found on state or federal

    Drug operators target these places, Burnett said, because they know there are
    too few rangers to patrol vast parks.

    "We cannot keep up with the drug smuggling and smuggling of undocumented
    aliens that comes across the border through parks on a daily basis. We are
    aware of the connection with drug cartels. We had a ranger shot and killed last
    year — that was a drug thing. It's pretty outrageous," he said, referring to an
    incident in Arizona.

    Hiker Held at Gunpoint

    In Sequoia, rangers said, visitors have encountered pot growers. One hiker was
    held at gunpoint briefly by armed growers, said Al DeLaCruz, Sequoia's chief
    law enforcement officer. In 2001, hunters in the Whiskeytown National
    Recreation Area in the northern Sierra reported to rangers that they had been
    menaced by armed pot harvesters.

    Park officials said rangers will be stretched thin this summer, searching for
    marijuana crops and taking care of visitors during the park's busiest season.
    Tweed said that, because more rangers would be deployed to deal with the
    marijuana problem, there would be fewer patrolling park roads and

    When rangers raid pot gardens in the park, they routinely find filthy work camps
    with makeshift kitchens, latrines and trash dumps in areas designated as
    wilderness. Biologists report fish die-offs and water contamination from
    fertilizers, pesticides and poisons used by growers. DeLaCruz and other rangers
    said marijuana cultivators are killing deer and other animals.

    The way to most of the pot fields is along the road to Mineral King along the
    southwest border of the park, an area rangers now archly refer to as Marijuana
    King. The road, a car and a half wide, is only intermittently paved. It is on this
    stretch, at this time of year, that early morning drops take place — Mexican
    nationals piling out of a van or truck, strapping hundreds of pounds of gear on
    their backs and heading into the hills to establish camps and prepare the gardens
    for planting.

    Authorities say the workers are mainly from the state of Michoacan. Eleven
    workers apprehended in last year's bust are still in custody in Fresno. None has
    been forthcoming with authorities.

    "They never talk," DeLaCruz said, adding that the workers are paid well — as
    much as $4,000 a month in cash — and they are made to understand that the
    welfare of their families in Mexico depends on their silence if caught.

    But based on statements from informants and wiretaps, officials at the state
    narcotics agency and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said the
    Mexican cartels appear to have financial ties to Middle Eastern groups.

    Hezbollah Tie Alleged

    "We have a number of methamphetamine cases where we've made a direct
    connection between the Hezbollah and Mexican cartels," said Bill Ruzzamenti,
    director of the state's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program for the
    Central Valley and a former DEA agent.

    The DEA suspects that associates of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah have been
    smuggling large amounts of pseudoephedrine tablets in cars and trucks across the
    Canadian border for sale to the drug cartels in California.

    Last month the DEA and Canadian authorities arrested 65 people, including a
    number of Jordanian citizens, suspected of smuggling pseudoephedrine, a key
    ingredient of methamphetamine, bound for California.

    The state narcotics bureau has come to suspect that the cartels are using profits
    from the resale of the pseudoephedrine to bankroll the sharp increase in
    marijuana cultivation on public land.

    The pot growers go to extraordinary measures to hide themselves and their
    operations. White sneakers are spray-painted brown or green, as are the handles
    of gardening tools. If growers cut a tree, the exposed stump is painted.

    "You can be right up against a garden and not know it," Ranger Dan Abbe said.

    The trails to the camps are often faint and treacherous — the outposts are so
    hard to locate that DeLaCruz recently had trouble finding his way back to one of
    the gardens destroyed by drug agents last year. Armed with M-16s and
    9-millimeter pistols, DeLaCruz and Abbe veered off a popular trail and
    bushwhacked up a steep hillside.

    Low-slung oaks and stout mountain mahogany formed a canopy over the
    chaparral-covered foothills. The natural camouflage, along with the soil and
    climate, provide ideal conditions for growing high-quality marijuana, which sells
    for $4,000 to $8,000 a pound.

    The rangers scrambled upward and after 10 minutes arrived at a level shelf of
    packed dirt. Trash was strewn everywhere — empty cans, torn packets of
    noodles, a crusty leather rifle scabbard. A soggy sleeping bag was stuffed behind
    a tree.

    Abbe said the site was a staging area, a place for newly arrived workers to rest
    before pushing up the mountain to the camps. Animals had been here, rummaging
    through the shallow garbage dump.

    Supplies Dropped In

    This was also where supplies were dropped every eight to 10 days during the
    marijuana season, from planting in April to harvest in September and October.

    About 2,000 feet higher and across a rushing stream, the rangers came to the
    remains of one of the camps discovered during last year's seizure of the
    $150-million crop. The rangers estimate that the 8 tons of marijuana found then
    represent only about 40% of the pot being grown in the park.

    Like the staging area below, the camp was strewn with garbage. A blue plastic
    bag contained dish soap and deodorant. A towel hung from an oak branch.
    Disposable razors and toothbrushes were tucked into twine wound around tree
    trunks. Bottles of herbicide and bags of fertilizers were heaped to one side. Raw
    potatoes nestled on spent coals beneath a grill suspended and tied to two trees.
    An empty bottle of brandy lay near crushed beer cans. A spatula, a lighter,
    scissors, miscellaneous clothing and unpaired shoes sat in haphazard piles.

    "Nice, eh?" DeLaCruz said, waving his arm to take in the scene. "Welcome to
    your national park."
  2. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    I reckon most of us have similar notions about how to deal with this nonsense, but TPTB wouldn't approve.

    :), Art
  3. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    What's a National Park???:confused: Never been, pay my own way.
  4. rock jock

    rock jock Well-Known Member

    Ten years ago I woud have been shocked to hear this. Now, with the shoulder-shrug attitde of the govt. towards illegals invading our soverign country, it is pretty much SOP.

    Art, you are right. The feds would rather our parks become financial fields of green for terrorists than for volunteers to take care of this problem.
  5. mjydrafter

    mjydrafter Well-Known Member

    I think people are "finally" going to come to the conclusion that the War on Drugs is not being won by the Government. If the cost of drugs is due to thier prohibition (I think it has to be true), why not de-criminalize, tax at a realistic rate and drop the bottom out of the market. No more stacks of money leaving this country, weather it be to Columbia, Mexico, and or Hezzbolah. The people of this country really need to talk about this matter NOW. I would be interested in just how much money we've funneled away from ourselves due to this 70 year war that we've made no progress in. We spend the money on enforcement, we spend the money on drugs, none of that money will come back and what are we left with?

    Also, with the forfiture laws, why wouldn't you grow on federal land? They/we already own it, therefore can't forefit it. Again nobody loses except us.
  6. ahenry

    ahenry Well-Known Member

    How can you honestly say there is a “shoulder-shrug attitude towards illegal immigrationâ€? Perhaps the response to it isn’t what you would decide to do if you were in control (its not what I would do either BTW) but there is most assuredly a response. Perhaps compared to what you would prefer done the response seems small or something, but compared to past years there is no way you can reasonably suggest that there is a “shoulder-shrug attitudeâ€.
  7. longeyes

    longeyes member

    Ten years ago the illegal immigration problem was not so palpable. Are "the people" waking up? Yes, they are, thanks largely to forums like this one and talk radio. But what is actually being DONE by the authorities about the problem? Anything truly substantive? I don't see it. What I see is that maybe a dozen people in Congress give a fig and that there is deafening silence on this issue from the White House. Tom Tancredo has said that Karl Rove told him, because of Tancredo's views on this subject, "never to darken the door of the White House again." The overwhelming posture of the ruling elites of this country is that there IS no problem and that if there were it would be "uncompassionate" to do anything about it. Bush himself has made "safety and order" in the immigration process his goal; that means illegal immigration, not legal. And Colin Powell sees the border as just a "region." Let's get real. Right now the U.S. is viewed as just a gigantic fat sow to be exploited for whatever anyone thinks they are "entitled" to. Unfortunately, too many citizens of our own country seem to share that opinion. Perhaps they will change their minds when the geniuses in D.C. integrate Social Security with Mexico? Or will it take more Mexican cop-killers fleeing across the border to hide behind Vicente Fox's chaps?
  8. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Well-Known Member

    That makes it sound like we need to increase our budget to pay for the war on drugs, and terror.

    Personally, I think this story is too ensationalized to believe. However, we should be allowed to carry in the park.

  9. TallPine

    TallPine Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I have to agree with you there, ahenry

    Up on the high line there is a family that owns farmland on both sides of the border. They live in Canada, but their sons go to HS in Montana.

    The border is now closed between 6pm and 9am, so the boys can't get to and from school at the times that they need to. So, short term they are staying with grandparents on this side of the border.

    I am glad to see the govt is finally cracking down on this border stuff .... :rolleyes:
  10. braindead0

    braindead0 Well-Known Member

    From their description of this, it's in the National Forest not the Park (big difference). If PRK had CCW you could carry in the Forest but not the Park (in theory).

    My parents camp in the Forest every year, my dad is usually armed (if not CCW there's one or two in the trailer). Thanks for the article, I forwarded it to them....
  11. Minuteman

    Minuteman Member

    I'm with Art...and Nike ("Just do it")
  12. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

    I wonder how that kinda thing would fly up this way? My suspicion is something along the lines of:

    "SS and S... it's not just for wolves anymore..." :)

    Easy to say though.. we don't seem to have a major influx of Canadians trying to set up meth labs in the boonies up here.

  13. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

    Notice how, now that you can tool down to the neighborhood booze-o-rama and snag a bottle of Jack for a few bucks, you hardly ever hear about folks getting shot by 'shiners for stumbling across their stills anymore? :scrutiny:
  14. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Well-Known Member

    If that were true I'm sure the govt would legalize it and tax it. Around here good pot goes for 70.00 an ounce for the end line user. I really don't like how the ATF assigns value to illegal drugs, it makes it look like they are doing a great job.

    It must be regional. I don't think I have ever seen a Mexican in real life. Even my favorite authentic burritto shop has Peurto Ricans running it. To us Northerners there does seem to be shoulder-shrug attitude.

    Come to think about it, other than one news story or so a month that I see one the national news, the only place I hear it is a problem is on THR.
  15. AZTOY

    AZTOY Well-Known Member

    I can get a pound for $200 from Mexio. I don't know if it good pot or bad pot.

    If thay legalize it i will let you know.:neener:
  16. rock jock

    rock jock Well-Known Member

    I would go into a length reposnse at this point, but I think longeyes summed it up quite nicely. Suffice it to say that there is a real disconnect between D.C. and the rest of the country on this issue (surprise, surprise).

    This issue is not about whether or not drugs should be legalized. It is about foreign terrorists having free reign to set up market in our national parks. If drugs were legalized, this story could just as easily be about illegals cultivating anthrax in labs set up in Yellowstone.
  17. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

    The issue (to me at least) is being fixated on the symptoms, not the disease. Turning Sequioa National Park into a lush and verdant version of Stalag 17, complete with barbed wire perimeter, towers, and armed patrols with dogs isn't the answer.

    This is like trying to fix an ant problem in the house without cleaning up the spilled food crumbs that attract them in the first place.

    PS: Who cares if the cultivators are illegals or citizens? The point is that there are people, motivated by the possibility of artificially insane profits, who are willing to kill other people to keep them. Take the criminals away, more will take their place. Take the profits away, et voila, there goes the incentive.
  18. stevelyn

    stevelyn Well-Known Member

    The last DARE Officers conference I attended, one of our guest speakers said that our own variety grown for export was getting about $35,000 per pound.
  19. Shalako

    Shalako Well-Known Member

    :uhoh: .... (Not that I know, or anything, but I went to school in Humboldt County, and those $4-$8k per pound numbers are right on the money for the KGB (kind green bud, aka crypto, chronic, skunk, nugs etc. Hey, if you live with the hippies, you gotta speak the lingo.) Anyways, that boils down to $50 for an 1/8 (oz) where the stuff is more abundant than anywhere else this side of Amsterdam. You would have panhandlers and dirtified dreadlock types paying those prices when they didn't even have a job. Oh well, gotta have priorities you know... But this northwest stuff is a different animal than that which is produced, cured, packaged, and shipped via who-knows-what means across the border.)

    This message will self-destruct......
  20. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide Well-Known Member

    In my youth......I think I had better not.

    I guess I'll just yield to the man from Humboldt County on this one. :cool:


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