It’s a jungle out there—M14 points through a Mexican Cartel marijuana field in California.
Pearl Harbor and 9/11 remind the United States not only of how we can be caught with our pants down, but also how sometimes we don’t pay attention to signals and act only when it too late. While we fight terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, another potent form of terrorism hits our public lands every summer.
While Islamist terrorists are supplied and financed by oil money, Mexican terrorists, who have been attacking our national forests, BLM lands, parks, and private rural areas for more than a decade, are supported and inspired by vast amounts of drug money.
California Department of Fish and Game Lt. John Nores and Dr. James Swans’ book on the subject, “War in the Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America’s Public Lands,” clears up many inaccuracies floating around about where America’s recreational marijuana really comes from, and who the growers are. Many think that the marijuana grown in the United States is cultivated by a bunch of benign hippies up in Humboldt County, those just trying get by.
In reality, 85 percent of the marijuana sold in the United States comes from Mexican Cartel crops grown at dreadful ecological expense.
Most shocking is how poorly this war is being reported by the press, and how little attention Washington is giving an act of aggression that puts American citizens directly in danger through conflict with AK47-armed growers protecting their crops, and the dastardly environmental effects of marijuana cultivation to watersheds and soils.
Lt. John Nores and two members of the Marijuana Eradication Team from “War in the Woods.”
The toxicity of the chemicals carried into the woods on the backs of these Mexican cartel growers is so bad, that when law enforcement clean up crews go in they have to use HAZMAT clothing and equipment.
Those are just the fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides—many are illegal to purchase in the United States.
There are also the poisons for mammals, the least of which is rat poison, placed around pot fields to dissuade deer and other animals that like to eat marijuana.
Then, as an added detriment to wildlife, there are the snares and booby-traps that not only catch and wound the hiker, hunter and fisherman, but also lead to amazingly high rates of poaching of deer and other incidentals that growers add to their larder.
It amazes me how many in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City and Miami think that hunting is murder, that all wildlife is precious, and the environment must be protected, but have no qualms about lighting up a joint.
Would they see how hypocritical they are were they to watch a TV commercial depicting the amount of destruction as the result of illegal marijuana cultivation in national forests and BLM lands, not to mention local parks?
If people think that Agent Orange was horrific in Vietnam, it has nothing on what the Mexican Cartel can do on a plot of land during their growing efforts. And who in their right mind would light up knowing all those chemicals that many officers wouldn’t even touch with an ungloved hand, is going right into their lungs? Not to mention the damage to their future children.
From a scientific point of view, human beings, like every other mammal, are addicted to a number of chemical stimuli. It’s historically one of the major reasons that certain types of plants and grains spread so quickly around the world, such as wheat and poppies.
Once it became clear that addictions not only caused “good feelings,” but also resulted in over inebriation and incapacitation, society drew up a number of rules and regulations to keep people from falling too far under the influence and being dangerous to themselves and others. As technology changed, so did values and rules: compare public attitudes, and laws, regarding drunk driving of today and those from 60 years ago.
So, how to best to deal with this attack on America that feeds off human addictions and is so well rewarded financially?
In the 1990s, I heard many responses during seven years as a drug and alcohol rehab counselor for Friendship House Association of American Indians in San Francisco, specializing in assisting clients dealing with combat and/or child abuse-related post-traumatic stress, and the substance abuse symptoms of PTS that resulted in their arrest. The most common answer, which is often used now: “How about just remove the economic attraction by making marijuana legal?”
What is not commonly known and was clearly stated in a New York Times article by former USAF officer and special agent, Sylvia Longmire, author of “Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars,” is that the Mexican drug cartels draw only 65 percent of their money from marijuana.
The rest comes in from sales of other types of controlled substances, kidnapping, blackmarketing in stolen goods, prostitution, and graft.
In other words, it’s like with the size and capability of the Italian Mafia enriched by the 18th Amendment, when during the early, post-21th Amendment days of 1930s, they strengthened their non-alcohol streams of wealth: the Mexican Cartel is big enough now that they can move with impunity through many areas, and, like wise investors, have a diversified portfolio.
Part of the problem in fighting a drug war, is that most of the fighting in the US is against the symptoms of societal failings: drug abusers, the dealers, and the worker bees, aka the Mexican Cartel growers, which so easily illegally enter the US.
The core of the problem is the horrible world economy, mega-financial reward that for many outweighs the risk, and the almost Scot-free manner in which Mexican Cartel leaders move internationally.
The question is how much is the United States and the rest of the world willing to do in order to win such a war, especially in an international community that we seem to have found ourselves in, where smart bombs have dropped the incidental bystander death rate down to numbers unimaginable in WWII, and are yet still not low enough to appease international critics of a country trying to efficiently fight a war?
Drug cartel leaders are people, and as people respond to pain and pleasure as much as everyone else. Right now the pain is miniscule, especially with so many in Mexican law enforcement completely turned through greed, or fear, to the dark side, because “that’s just the way it is.”
And for many, because the Mexican government is so corrupt, it would be absolute suicide to do their job and actually round up the cartel heads and put them in and keep them in jail.
Now this might be a bit controversial, and politically incorrect: What if instead of just focusing on hunting down and arresting Mexican Cartel growers on public lands and throwing drug abusers in jail, the US instead legalized all drugs in the US to remove that pleasure reward of $40 Billion a year enjoyed by the cartels, then used all those taxes from legalized recreational drugs to deal with the initial flood of those seeking rehabilitation and creating better preventative public service announcements with regards to the hazards of drug abuse, as done effectively in Montana with methamphetamine TV advertisements.
What if the US then increased the pain on the major Mexican Cartel terrorists by sending out special forces hunter-killer units specifically after the top leadership of the Mexican Cartels.
No more getting the front and middlemen for anything else other than interrogation. No more trades of immunity for information from leadership: there’ll be enough intelligence gathered for strategizing operations from the front and middlemen.
Now, it would be, “If you seek to get rich running a cartel, we’re coming after you, and you won’t be spending a night in the pokey while your well-paid lawyer is rousting a judge out of bed to pay him off. No night in jail will be offered. No bail, either. No, we’re coming after you personally! Tell them Valdez is coming…”
If this seems reminiscent of the Colombian drug war, when the civilian populace became dissatisfied with government corruption–Pablo Escobar even had a few in Colombia’s most elite drug enforcement units on his payroll–and Colombian drug lords walking around with impunity, and the resulting murders of honorable officials trying to actually do something about the problem, it is.
Getting beyond the horror of what war really means, it was only once the citizenry banded together and “upped the pain” on the Colombian cartels that the cartels switched from arrogant to terrified. Until then, Escobar had free rein from his laughable house arrest in “El Catedral.”
Just a thought, but hey, until smoking pot and abusing drugs is no longer as risqué and a sign of being rebellious and therefore a step toward “being cool” in high schools; and instead more commonly thought of as just a stupid act of killing brain cells that in the long run could lead to harsher drugs and a life on the streets as a vagrant, and people become better informed on the horrible effects of the illegal drug trade to our wild lands, and citizens, it’s a suggestion in a world where the supply and cultural attraction is like a tsunami upon society.
And unlike true believers in Islamic terrorism groups, who have no qualms about blowing themselves up, Mexican Cartel leaders have a much more earthly desire to live.
• Watch Lt. Nores and his group on National Geographics Wild Justice.
Listen to Cork Graham’s interview with Lt. John Nores of the California Department of Fish and Game and Mexican Cartel’s attack on America‚s wild lands.