I don’t typically write about domestic issues, nor do I put a ton of time or research into domestic-related topics. But, this one is partially about my home state, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. This morning on my Facebook page, a friend had highlighted a link to an article on everyjoe.com from August 29, 2009 titled “U.S. Forest Service Warning: Ahh..Mexicans!”. First off, I put about as much credence into a website that is concerned with things like the season 2 of Keeping up with the Kardashians as I do to the political opinions of Hollywood…close to zero. While I do not normally respond to the random links my hippy friends (and I have many of them) post on Facebook, I had to write her back on this one, and thus felt obliged to post this story and some subsequent information onto the blog. Before I go any further with this post, I have to get out of the way that I do not condone the statements made by the US Forest Service. In fact, it was quite possibly the dumbest possible thing they could have done while attempting to broach a very serious subject. While perusing the stellar website that the Facebook link came from, I was reminded of a recent WSJ article about drug busts on Indian reservations in Oregon and Washington. Call the drug war what you want, but large-scale pot cultivation in the US is a major concern. The narco-gangs that control these major pot farms are also the same paramilitary groups driving the Mexico toward “failed state” status.
Due to increased pressure from the Mexican government and increased US efforts at the border, the Mexican cartels are finding it more difficult to grow in Mexico and then transport to the US. This is causing the cartels to develop and execute major grow farms in remote portions of Indian reservations and national forests. There is simply too much money at stake for these cartels to not undertake any and every means possible to maintain revenue. The West Coast, California in particular, is ground zero for US marijuana growth and seizure on public land. There have also been major seizures on public land in Arizona, Colorado and the Oregon bust mentioned in the above WSJ article.
On a macro scale, without increased support and effort at all levels the US Government (USG) stands little chance of providing much more than a happy photo op every once in a while with a confiscated crop. On an even larger scale, I’d assume that pot farm operations in the US are offsetting whatever difficulties the cartels may be facing financially in Mexico from their war with the MexGov. The standard line of logic thus suggests that US marijuana farms run by Mexican cartels are contributing to the rising murder rate and continued destabilization of Mexico by narco-gangs and criminal organizations like “Los Zetas”, and the La Familia, Sinaloa and Tijuana Cartels (among many others).
A few thoughts on combating the use of public land for cartel operations.
- I’m sure the USG is all over this, but the use of CI’s and HUMINT is key. There are nearly 200 million acres of national forest land in the US. This is a lot of terrain to cover without targetable information.
- Develop a program for IMINT platforms that seeks standard repeating patterns of emitted or radiated energy. In the video here, the reporter identifies the Pike NF bust in Colorado as having plants separated by 3 feet each. This kind of repeating pattern has to reflect solar radiation from the exposed dirt in a certain fashion that would allow for exploitation by aerial asset. I think something like this has tremendous potential.
- These pot farms all utilize some form of drip lines to water the crops, and are often quite long. It was also suggested that a lot of the watering is conducted at night in order to avoid aerial detection. This provides opportunities.
If anyone reading this knows of hardware/software along these lines already available, please comment. If nothing yet exists, some of the contractors reading this can freely use either of these concepts…for a small intellectual fee of course.