Monday, March 1, 2010

Drug Gangs on Public Lands

This morning National Public Radio ran a report on the increase of drug gang activities on public lands. The major impacts are on areas such as National Parks and Forests. What officials are finding is large marijuana growing operations. These are on a scale of commercial farms with plants in the thousands. The resource damage as the result of these illegal operations is extensive. The criminals introduce chemical fertilizers, animal poisons, reroute water courses, and leave hundreds of pounds of trash and debris in remote sensitive habitats. Most sites are in isolated areas away from places frequented by visitors or established trails. The criminals’ plan is to keep their plants hidden.

These grow operations are being organized and managed by criminal gangs out of Mexico. Crime organizations are bringing undocumented aliens across the border from Mexico specifically to work these marijuana operations.

You can read the details at:

The criminal activity that is described in this article took place in California, but these same grow operations are being found on public lands in the East and more specifically the Southern Appalachians. In 2005 marijuana grow operation was discovered on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Over 8,900 plants were removed as well as hundreds of feet of hose for irrigation, large amounts of camp trash, fencing to keep out deer, chemicals, and sleeping bags. Although no arrests were made, evidence at the scene indicated that Mexican Nationals had been occupying the site for an extended period.

Should you be hiking off the beaten path and come across what looks like a garden with hoses for irrigation and cleared canopy, leave the area immediately and report your observations to authorities.

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