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Pot Busts A Record, But Some Say Crackdown Pushes Trade Into Suburbs

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Attorney General Jerry Brown on Tuesday touted a record haul of illegal marijuana pulled from secluded fields in rural California, but legalization advocates say the crackdown has only helped push growers indoors.

Citing a U.S. Justice Department report released Nov. 8, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project said vigorous eradication efforts by state and federal officials have caused growers to adapt by moving into suburban homes.

Police in Elk Grove have unraveled two marijuana-growing networks in the past two years. In both operations, the criminals established indoor groves in half-million-dollar new homes.

"Indoor cannabis cultivation is increasing in some areas of the country as growers attempt to avoid outdoor eradication and attain higher profits through production of indoor-grown, high-potency marijuana," according to the National Drug Threat Assessment for 2008.

Special Agent Gordon Taylor, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Sacramento, said that may be true in some parts of the country. But large-scale growers inhabiting California's public lands aren't the ones moving into suburban communities.

New syndicates have appeared, he said.

"We're getting better, but there appears to be more marijuana out there," Taylor said.

Although there is no way to know how much illegal marijuana is grown in the United States, cannabis seizures have nearly doubled from 2.8 million plants in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2006, according to the threat assessment.

In California alone this year, state and federal officials eradicated from public parks and state lands a record 2.9 million marijuana plants worth an estimated $11.6 billion.

The results of the program, known as the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, were announced Tuesday by the state Justice Department, the U.S. attorney's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Officials declared the program a success as agents seized 41 guns and arrested 53 suspected traffickers.

"We're no longer only arresting the 19-year-old kid who's brought up here from Mexico who doesn't speak English, who's watering the plants," said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott. "We're now getting to the point where we're arresting the hierarchy. We're getting after the brains of the operation."

In the Sacramento district, the program has resulted in 36 indictments, he said. Traffickers face a minimum of 10 years for producing more than 1,000 plants under federal law.

Brown touted the strategy as a necessary part of maintaining public safety. In public parks, officials said, visitors have heard gunshots and agents have reported finding gang graffiti carved into trees.

"When you're out there hiking in the country, the rural area of California, you don't expect to be confronted with some illegal person pointing an AK-47 at you," Brown said.

Brown acknowledged a conflict between federal drug laws and a California law allowing marijuana for medicinal use and said he would uphold Proposition 215.

Federal agents said no medical marijuana was seized in the raids.

"This is one way of alleviating people's pain," Brown said. "Although I can tell you, having watched one of these marijuana clinics outside the Oakland police station, the people going in look rather young and vigorous on their way to pick up their material."

Despite increased enforcement efforts, Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project said illegal marijuana has proliferated due to demand.

The drug threat assessment found that indoor cultivation grew 85 percent between 2000 and 2006.

The report also noted that drug traffickers are expanding to areas they have not cultivated before. It found Cuban drug traffickers in Florida have increased growth to Georgia and North Carolina. And the report cited Mexican drug growers moving out of California, Washington and Oregon and heading to Arizona and elsewhere.

Mirken said the government should decriminalize marijuana and regulate it "like we regulate the wine industry."

"They're both intoxicants, not for children, and major industries," he said. "You don't hear about criminal gangs setting up vineyards in homes."

The DEA's Taylor said the public tends to perceive pot as being a softer, less harmful drug, which is a misconception.

"When you look at the big picture, it's a big deal," Taylor said. "It's bad enough especially for our youth but ... consider the enormous marijuana growth and the relatively new organized syndicates growing into our community."

During Elk Grove's first major pot raid in 2006, suspects were linked to a crime syndicate with connections to San Francisco.

Drug enforcement officers raided 21 homes and seized 14,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $56 million. The tip came from residents who noticed unkempt lawns and empty living rooms.

In September, agents raided another 21 homes in Elk Grove, Sacramento and Galt that led to 15 arrests.

This time marijuana growers had adapted.

"The individuals became a little more savvy," said Elk Grove Police Department spokesman Chris Trim. "They maintained their property. The lawns were kept and there was furniture on the first floor so neighbors would see a regular house."

Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion@sacbee.com
Website: Northern California local news and information from The Sacramento Bee - sacbee.com
 

Frog

New Member
I was just thinking this evening,
the perfect Op would be a Super Seceret Indoor Op that could supply all the babies(clones) needed to supply Outdoor Ops for the 60-80 days to finish,
giving mass production without exposure for the time needed for seedling veg-time.
Basicly totally shifting from plants being exposed to observation from say mar-apr becoming very noticable by Jul-aug
To putting them out in Aug and as the Leo searches for big bushy stuff, they can't see the small ones that'll be ready in 60-80 days.
Wonder if anybody has tried this(smrk)

Would be really great in the mid-west during doughts :3:

Max production with minimual exposure.
 
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