Mexican Cartels Move Into U.S. Pot Growing

US authorities says they uncovered more than $1 billion worth of pot plants grown by Mexican drug cartels in Sequoia National Forest in 2008. (Photo by Mike Ahlers/CNN)US authorities says they uncovered more than $1 billion worth of pot plants grown by Mexican drug cartels in Sequoia National Forest in 2008. (Photo by Mike Ahlers/CNN)WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) – Mexican drug cartels are increasingly active inside the United States, producing homegrown marijuana and gaining new urban footholds, officials say.

Narcotics officials say that the four major cartels are avoiding tougher border enforcement efforts by growing more pot within the United States. Combined with what they have been able to smuggle into the country, the gangs have been able to maintain marijuana supply lines that have barely suffered a dent while flows of other kinds of illegal drugs have been pinched, The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) reported Monday.

The four largest Mexican cartels — the Federation, the Tijuana Cartel, the Juarez Cartel and the Gulf Cartel — now operate in 195 U.S. cities, up from about 50 cities in 2006, a Justice Department report indicates. One reason is that marijuana sales have been a steady and lucrative business for them, virtually unrelated to the ups and downs of other drugs.

“Marijuana is the king crop,” Special Agent Rafael Reyes of the Drug Enforcement Administration told the Times. “It consistently sustains its marketability and profitability.”

Mexican drug traffickers have also moved into hydroponic marijuana production — cannabis grown indoors without soil and using sunlamps, officials said.

– Article from United Press International on February 2, 2009.

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