Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, October 14, 2013

The 541 Syndicate Part I

Written by Adán Germán for Borderland Beat            
Northern California mountain streams, ideal for marijuana plant irrigation (foto by Adán)
When Adán Díaz Herrera started first grade in the small rural school in the mountains straddling Northern California and Southern Oregon, he was the only Mexican in his class. In fact, not even his teacher spoke Spanish, along with the entire crowded class of 31 students.

His classmates, mostly children of loggers, many whose parents had come from Oklahoma or Arkansas during the Dust Bowl, derided him as a "wetback", even though he was a 3rd generation American. The children of local hippies, who flocked to the area to escape the urban decline of the day, were no more ingratiating.

Adán had come with his parents, from Chicago, who themselves had followed their grandparents from the Mexican state of Durango. Finding little opportunity in the lower West side  neighborhood of Pilsen, they founded a thriving business as subcontractors for the US Forest Service, replanting the trees that were clear cut to provide the jobs and tax revenue that supported the local economy. Soon cousins and other relatives came to help, some from Chicago, but mostly from Mexico.

While planting the hillsides with millions of Douglas Fir seedlings, the workers began to recognize that the lush verdant countryside would provide an opportunity, similar to the mountains of Durango, for the planting of small plantations of marijuana.

As they crisscrossed the rugged mountains planting trees, they became familiar with the location of every spring, and recognized that the south-facing hillsides that would provide needed sunlight. They knew the movement of Forest Service and law enforcement personnel, and they had a legitimate reason to be in the forest, day in and day out.

Adán’s father, Eugenio, "Gene" Díaz, learned from an uncle how to remove the male plants early in the season, eliminating the pollen sacks that fertilize female buds, this resulted in the highly prized "sinsemilla" marijuana that made a small Sinaloa group very wealthy in the 1970's.
Pilsen, a huge gateway section of Chicago for migrants
where more than 80% of residents  are Mexican
On the streets of Seattle, Washington and San Francisco, California, the product produced by the Díaz family was renowned for its excellent quality.

After a decade or so, dozens of family members planted trees during the day, and guarded, watered, and tended to marijuana at night. This system worked well, until the family became part of the middle class, owning real estate, small businesses, and no longer faced the underlying prejudice experience by many Mexicans in rural America. Hardworking and dedicated to their work of regenerating the forest, local loggers and hippies alike offered their grudging respect.

While the Díaz family prospered, many other new arrivals prospered as well. Hippies and other counterculture types moved to the area from all over the country. Some were escaping the urban decay that was permeating American cities, but many also came to take advantage of one of the best Marijuana growing climates in the world.
Marijuana soon supplanted other crops as the most valuable agricultural commodity in several states. While law enforcement authorities soon took advantage of massive federal grants to target the growers, there were other threats as well.

In 1971 there was a small hippie commune that dominated the area. It was populated by self-sufficient back to nature types, as well as Viet Nam vets and outlaw bikers, who were drawn to the Wild West culture and what they thought was an ample opportunity for free love.
One early morning, during one autumn's marijuana harvest, a large crop was found missing. The garden was planted by a rough group not welcome in the commune, including a Viet Nam vet who had been dishonorably discharged.

The following morning, the severed heads of two hippies were found on the river bank downstream from the commune, under the green bridge. They belonged to two well-known commune members, known as Old Moses and Rainbow Bob. Their badly beaten bodies were found near their homes, six miles upstream. The bodies exhibited evidence of the kind of torture known to be used by US forces in Viet Nam.

The murders were never solved, and the Díaz family paid little attention, because they were neither friendly with the commune members, nor did they like the moral attitude that seeped from the anarchist culture. Several other violent incidents were tied to the growing of marijuana, but this was minor compared to the drunken brawls that local loggers engaged in on a regular basis.

In 1981, three loggers named Clark, Scott, and Cox, got into an altercation with a long-haired man named Vander Jack at a bar, called the Rusty Spur. They had a reputation as crazy drunken louts, who give people an ample beating just for amusement. Vander Jack left in a hurry, but was found hitchhiking a few miles down the road, as Clark, Scott, and Cox left for home.
They picked him up. Accounts vary, but most of the three assailants agree they took Vander Jack down to the river for a good old fashioned ass stomping. Apparently, Vander Jack did something to anger Terry Cox more than usual,  and Cox had a reputation for chasing friends around with a revved up, running chainsaw, while threatening to cut their head off.

Cox pulled the seat forward on his Ford F-100 pickup and pulled out a tire iron and a hammer. Later, in court, he testified that the tire iron went into Vander Jack's skull, "like a spike pushed into a watermelon."
Scott and Clark testified against Cox and were given suspended sentences. Clark was convicted of manslaughter, but on appeal a trial error meant he was released after serving a little under 4 years in state prison.

By 1987 federal grants to local law enforcement for the war on drugs had reached staggering levels. Small planes and helicopters crisscrossed every inch of forest, public or private, using professional spotters to locate as few as 2 marijuana plants. On such spotter located a small plantation on federal land that had been recently replanted with Douglas Fir seedlings. Ground crews found far more marijuana plants once they scouted the area on foot.

As the fall harvest neared, state and federal agents staked out the plantation, waiting for the growers to reap the crop. Unwitting crews of tree planters hiked in with backpacks to begin the harvest, they found themselves surrounded. Gene Diaz had made the unfortunate decision to oversee the work. Many of the workers were able to slip into the surrounding hills, but Díaz quickly found himself in handcuffs.
The easy money then came to an end.

The Díaz family found themselves under unprecedented scrutiny. Their rental properties were seized by the IRS Asset Forfeiture Program. Gene Díaz was sent to federal prison for nearly a decade. His wife and children moved to Costa Rica and his eldest son was sent to a preparatory school in Brazil. Many of the extended family moved to the California Central Valley city of Stockton. Many became involved in drugs and alcohol and several cousins and an uncle were killed over drug debts or alcohol fueled vendettas.

Shortly after Díaz emerged from prison, much older and almost broken, marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in several western states. Gene Díaz had a back injury from his tree planting days that resulted in a herniated disc in his spine, and he was one of the first in the area to receive a state permit allowing him to possess and grow marijuana. (continues next page)

Díaz had long instilled in his children a disdain for alcohol and hard drugs, particularly methamphetamine. His children and anyone working for him were absolutely forbidden from using alcohol to excess, and must abstain during the workday.  The use or sales of hard drugs was viewed as grounds for immediate excommunication.
Ironically, Gene himself had developed a nasty black tar heroin addiction, he developed as he self-medicated to relieve his back injury. He and his wife's parents from Durango were old school heroin dealers in Chicago, and they had pioneered many smuggling methods still in use to this day.

With the state legalization of medical marijuana, the Díaz family was no longer relegated to the rugged mountains for growing their product, and now they could take advantage of the fertile farmland and ample water supply that the valleys were endowed with. While the state placed no limit on the number of patients a marijuana cooperative could grow for, it was well known that growing more than 100 plants was a federal crime punishable by a 10 year minimum sentence.

The ample sun and water afforded by bottom land meant that each plant yielded an average of 10 pounds, or about 5 kilos, of high-grade marijuana, when a 1 pound plant grown guerrilla-style was considered exceptional. Each plant required a 10' x 10' growing area, with 5 feet between rows for working, meaning a 96 plant garden would only require 1/2 acre of usable space, but would yield about 1/2 ton of high-grade marijuana, which dealers in Chicago would call Kush, and sell for $15 a gram, no matter what strain it was.

Soon cousins, uncles, and other associates could grow 1,000 pounds of marijuana, or more, even if they live in a rented trailer on one acre, at the edge of town. With a value of $1,000 a pound locally, there was profit to be made, where dealers in Chicago would buy 200 pounds at a time for $2,500 a pound, and in New York they would pay $4,000 a pound, wholesale. This was nowhere near the profit that came from a $20,000 kilo of cocaine, bought for $1,500 in Colombia, but with dozens of family members producing massive quantities, at a producer cost of $250-$300, there was still money to be made.

200 pounds of high-grade marijuana delivered to Chicago in the back of an SUV would wholesale for $500,000, while 2,000 pounds sent in a tractor-trailer, would bring $5 million. The stage was clearly set for a profitable enterprise that involves little risk.

Part Two link here

Part Three link here


  1. ""he was the only Mexican in his class. ..."
    ...."even though he was a 3rd generation American".

    So, is he Mexican or American? Que dice su Registro Federal de Contribuyentes?

    1. Callate pendejo

    2. @ 12:59, tu callate puta

    3. 12:23, 100% us born American of Hispanic descent, unlike you,not a 100% us born motherfucking asshole with an ego problem,usually too stupid to get along with the ladies,take your anger on Hispanics,do you need a visit from the Mongols?

    4. Si todos nos callemos, no habra debate!

    5. primero caiganse todos,despues viriguamos...

  2. "not even his teacher spoke Spanish", what is surprising bout. Most merican teachers don't speak Spanish fool.

    1. What is a merican teacher? And you called him a fool.

  3. is this non fiction? how many parts?
    good reading, thank you adan

  4. The Great American Success Story.

    pheh. Excuse me if I don't hump his leg. He's still a dirty narco.

  5. Non Fiction. I am not sure how many parts, but I already have part 2 in draft

  6. I remember them old hippies in northern calif as i grew up uncle went camping back in the day up there and was shot at above his head to get out of there.he had no clue he even stumbled on to them.them vietnam vets and hells angels were the craziest as they didnt give a damn about nothing.i remember those days! My grandparents were dust bowl okies is how we wound up there!

    1. Denounce,or what were you doing there,just by the looks of it you should stay away from unsavory characters,what, you can't smell the shit?

  7. Its people like this, that give hard working illegal aliens a bad name, never mind the rhetoric spewed by backwards gabacho racists that say all illegals are criminals just by being here. some break the law to get here, but then never break another law ever. This Diaz family is a racists wet dream so far as propaganda goes; they came here and lived as criminals! its people like them, that give fuel to the people breaking up families by deporting folks who never broke a law besides coming here illegally to better themselves, never thinking of how they can get over illegally....too bad all the Diaz's didn't end up in prison and broke...your story almost sounds like its making excuses for them...i know folks who served in Vietnam and couldnt get seated in a restaurant in the south because they only had facilities for whites and blacks, not browns, back then, and they didn't let that be an excuse to be criminals....

    1. I totally agree with you. As an immigration attorney, I see how hard many undocumented immigrants work. They did break the law, but live as a law abiding individuals who work their behind off to support their families. I can't stand these types of post by making excuses, but I will reserve my opinion till the final saga.

  8. You got it right on the money Chivis
    Dont forget high quality indoor grows
    This is huge in Texas

    1. Tejas weed no bueno cali mota better the best !

    2. Cali mota overated!!!NW buds are way stonier,cali can only move the backyard boo boo to redneck states like georgia. If they bring their boo boo to the NW they will get stuck out here with no gas money to drive back.LOL!

    3. Hawaiian lettuce any good?any Panama red left? Colombia gold?

  9. Indoors are out of sight and out of mind , but their are major players in the woods here in Texas
    Local growers are scared off by headless animals being left atop their pulled up marijuana crops
    Insiders News TeXassss

  10. Indoors can harvest every two months with proper scheduling and know how
    Out doors is more like every six months just fyi

    1. Aaaaaaah who cares i got my medical card yipiieeeeee!!!!!

  11. Would the Diaz Herrera family be the same family from herreras or Tepehuanes, Durango.

  12. if you have the send part post it!

  13. Is this diaz family from santiago?

    1. Santiago de Chile,or Santiago papasquiaro, durango,Harry aleman,the hook,Chicago mafioso,us born son of a durangueyo... dangerous as scorpions,they sting with the"tail"...

    2. Santiago papasquiaro

  14. From durango to modesto arriba la sierra de tepehuanes durango


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