Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico marijuana growers learn new tricks from US

Saturday, December 18, 2010 |



* Mexican cartels generate bulk of revenue from marijuana

* Marijuana seizures in California soar 300 pct in 4 years

* Mexican growers forced to compete with higher quality

By Mica Rosenberg
Reuters


Farmers growing marijuana in remote Mexican mountains are adopting techniques pioneered in the United States to produce more potent pot and boost profits from the cash crop that is fueling a deadly drug war.

In the fertile mountain valleys of Sinaloa in northwestern Mexico, soldiers this year found 60 acres (24 hectares) of covered greenhouses equipped with sophisticated irrigation and fertilization systems growing seemingly endless rows of marijuana plants.

In another part of Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking, the army recently busted a marijuana lab that used lamps day and night to speed the growth of the plants, a change from traditional outdoor cultivation of the crop and a sign drug cartels are using more savvy production methods.

"This is new. They now have technology so the plant will grow faster; we think the techniques are coming from (the United States)," said an officer commanding a battalion ripping up 5-foot (1.5-meter) high marijuana plants growing along a river bank near the dusty town of Amata, Sinaloa.

While estimates vary, law enforcement officials on both sides of the border say Mexican drug gangs earn the bulk of their cash from cheap-to-produce marijuana, using revenues to sustain wars against rivals and the government that have killed more than 33,000 people across Mexico in the past four years.

Even as hundreds of troops fan out across Sinaloa ripping up marijuana fields by hand, cartels are one step ahead of the government's efforts, helping to stifle President Felipe Calderon's army-led battle against the drug traffickers.

"It's a cycle," said another soldier in Amata as he stood by 20,000 pungent marijuana plants doused with diesel and set on fire in a billowing cloud of white smoke. "We come and destroy the fields and move onto another area and they come back and start preparing the land to plant again."

The new greenhouses are harder for the army to detect with fly-overs since they resemble tomato plots common in Sinaloa.

"PRIMO BUD VS MEXICAN CRUD"

If drug gangs in Mexico are successful enhancing the quality of their product, they can sell the improved marijuana for up to five times the normal price. The going rate for top quality U.S. marijuana is around $2,500 per pound, while Mexican types sell for under $500, U.S. law enforcement officials say.

New cultivation tactics are a sign Mexico is being forced to compete with growers north of the border, especially in California where business is booming, spurred on by marijuana for medical use in 15 states and the District of Colombia.

"I've been in drug law enforcement since 1970 and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would say California is producing more marijuana than Mexico," said Bill Ruzzamenti, a police officer specializing in the marijuana trade in California's Central Valley. "But there are people willing to spend the money on what they perceive to be primo bud as opposed to the Mexican crud," he added.

Seizures of marijuana plants in California soared nearly 300 percent over the past four years. Output increased south of the border as well between 2006 and 2008, but not by so much.

Clandestine marijuana fields are cropping up with more frequency in the United States, even in national parks.

Ruzzamenti speculated that Mexican growers in the United States are taking knowledge learned from experienced marijuana botanists cultivating strong new strains with names like "train wreck" and "California dream" back home to Mexico.

Indoor operations are increasing in the United States, in part because THC content, the drug's active ingredient, shoots up when marijuana is tended in greenhouses. THC in marijuana seized in the United States increased nearly 250 percent in the past two decades, according to the U.S. State Department.

Some U.S. varieties reach upwards of 30 percent THC, while Mexican pot averages between 3 and 4 percent, said Tommy Lanier, who directs the National Marijuana Initiative, funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Lanier questions the medical value of such strong marijuana and said legitimate crops can be diverted to the black market.

"They say its used for pain management, but drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels would have the same effect," he said.

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18 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

"They say its used for pain management, but drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels would have the same effect," he said.

wow what a jackass to compare that. Ruzzamenti you are a FUCKING IDIOT.
I want to see the difference in loss of cognative functions compared between smoking a dosage of medical marijuana, and a bottle of jack. It is so different. It's that type of thinking that makes more restrictive marijuana laws. Its like saying if you smoke a cigarette, its close to snorting a pound of meth.

'lito 'brito said...

help fight the drug war in Mexico...grow yer own...

Anonymous said...

I say boycott Mexico and their brown shwag. Let those Cartels rot to hell. Buy only what grows in God's country. More variety, good for the economy, and it makes you feel good too.

-Zoinks

Anonymous said...

BUT AMERICAN FOR AMERICA!!! OUR BUDS MUCH, MUCH BETTER!!!
PURPLE HAZE, SWEET ISLAND SUPREME, OZONE MIST, CALIFORNIA FURR, GRANDPAS FAVORITE, HUMBOLT HEAVEN AND OTHER AMERICAN WEED IS 100% BETTER THAN THAT MEXICAN BUNK THAT EL CHAPO, THE LFM, THE CDG, THE ZETAS AND THOSE OTHER ASSHOLES SELL. THIERS IS SHIT WEED.
BUY AMERICAN HYDRO AND KEEP OUR CASH HERF IN AMERICA.
HERE IN THE US, WE SMOKE, WE EAT AND WE ARE HAPPY. WE DON'T WANT TO KILL ANYONE OVER IT AND WE WILL NOT CUT YOUR HEAD OFF!!

BOYCOTT MEXICAN WEED!!!

Matanzas said...

Yep, buy local. That's what I do with veggies also.

Anonymous said...

How much is hydro prices in CA, just picked some up in the midwest for 2700

John said...

Thats a very good deal to get in the midwest, Anonymous @ December 19, 2010 1:30 PM. Especially if buying only a single elbow. In northern California, prices are around $1900 if you know the right people. However, this year everyone grew 3x as much as usual thinking it would get legalized and prices would plummet, so everyone grew as much as possible to get it in while they still could.

Anonymous said...

JOHN,
CAN YOU PLEASE CALL YOUR NEAREST D.E.A OFFICE AND TURN YOURSELF IN?
IF NOT, THEY NOW KNOW WHERE YOUR AT AND WILL COME OVER AND SEE YOU FIRST.
THANK YOU. SEE YOU SOON!!

Anonymous said...

Cant believe some fools have left comments saying to boycott mexican shwag.First off didn't those idiots read the post where mexican cartels are investing more money to produce high quality weed using green houses,lamps,and fertilizer the things you need to grow strong weed like purple haze white widow dank etc. Yett those dumb fools dont get it even shwag is never going to stop comming into the U.S its been smuggled & smoked in america for well over 100 years .Its like there were always be americans looking for a cheap high take cocaine and crack.The poorer people smoke the crack and the rich ones do coke this isnt stopping anytime soon.Certainly the stronger more expensive high quality new mexican weed wont stop soon either.

John said...

@ December 19, 2010 8:25 PM:

LOL. I'll gladly tell them where I'm at. Just because I have friends who live out there and grow pot I'm guilty of some kind of crime? I think not, friend.

Anonymous said...

John you rock! Guess i did get a deal in the chicago land area!!Need to go to north cal though!thanks dude. I was told 5000 for kush also,(think there taxin) its the middle man. Knowing people isnt a crime. Especialy when its a plant thats never killed anyone, or caused addicts or to make people act like idiots and harm other people. I'v seen first hand how its helped peoples lifes. Sadly it got mislabled as a "harmful drug" I'm not a giant stoner but those are the facts.

Anonymous said...

My friends in Northern CA say the cartels are already there and armed and pushing out the old hippie type growers.

John said...

The cartels have a presence in California and have had one for years; however, the amount that is grown by local hippies compared to what the cartels control (mostly on federal lands) is not even comparable; the hippie types grow way more, they've been out there doing it since the 60's.

Anonymous said...

Hello is anybody there? All anyone has to do to find out how to grow pot under the best and fastest conditions is go to Utube, type in " How to grow pot. There are hundreds of sites that can get anyone started on the road to success.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lanier stating 30 percent THC weed has the same effect as getting drunk off Jack Daniels is riddled in ignorance.

Two major differences. One, weed isn't harmful to your health. And two, getting high is nothing like getting drunk.

How could this gentleman make such a tremendous oversight? What, is he high?

Anonymous said...

1000 ib in satx

Anonymous said...

All you fools have lost your mind mx weed might not be as good but you fucking idiots still have smoked it atleast once. we will always and never stop crossing it across the border... you been warned u.s. ....

Anonymous said...

Marijuana is legal in Colorado now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!

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