September 12, 2008

Mexican Cartels Growing Pot in U.S.

Mexican drug cartels, finding it harder to smuggle in marijuana, are growing more of their crops in the United States, officials say.

Cartels are reported growing their illegal weed in national parks and on other public land, endangering visitors and damaging the environment, USA Today says.

John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says 75 to 80 percent of marijuana grown outdoors is on state or federal land.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says there were more than 4.8 million marijuana-plant seizures at outdoor sites in 2006.

While California is hardest hit by the transplanted planters, operations are reported under way in several states with accompanying major pot busts, the newspaper reported.

In the Chicago area, drug organizations have set up a base for distributing marijuana across the Midwest.

The number of marijuana plants confiscated on public land in California grew from 40 percent to 75 percent of total seizures from 2001-07, the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting task force told USA Today.