Archive for August 24th, 2011

24
Aug

Marijuana growers find cover on tribal lands

   Posted by: admin    in Uncategorized

Thousands of marijuana plants have been seized from tribals lands in Washington in the past year and the jump in the findings means the backcountry of some reservations is now a hot spot for federal drug agents as well.

The Seattle Times has the report on the pot plant invasion, which officials suspect is mainly spearheaded by Mexican cartels.

    Law-enforcement officials say Mexican drug cartels are responsible for many of the grow operations found on reservations.

    “We’ve gotten better at border interdiction,” said Rodriguez, citing the ramped up security at the Canadian and Mexican borders since the Sept. 11 attacks. “Years ago, the cartels would smuggle B.C. Bud and Mexican marijuana across the border, but now they’re bypassing the border altogether.”

    It’s easier, less dangerous and more profitable for cartels to grow closer to their market, Rodriguez says. Washington soil is conducive to cultivating higher quality, and therefore more expensive, pot.

Tribal officials say there’s just too much space and not enough man power to adequately patrol the reservations.

    Harry Smiskin, tribal chairman of the Yakama Nation, is at Washington’s epicenter for marijuana production. In the past five years, more than 500,000 pot plants have been found on the reservation — more than any other tribe in the state, according to State Patrol numbers.

    In 2008, the high point for pot seized on the reservation, Yakama Tribal Police and a collaborative drug task force recovered more than 204,000 marijuana plants at more than two dozen grow sites, according to the State Patrol. The State Patrol could not say whether there were any arrests.

    . . .

    Tribal reservations, some with hundreds of square miles of rugged backcountry, have become the front line for law-enforcement eradication of marijuana grow operations in Washington, says Rich Wiley, who heads the State Patrol’s Narcotics Division. Growers are targeting the outskirts of Indian country for their marijuana farms, knowing tribal lands are sparsely populated and less policed, he said.

Jenna Cederberg