U.S. officials say the Mexican drug cartels grow marijuana in 20 states and 67 national forests in the country, which protect people armed with homemade mines and up.
When appearing at a hearing held by the Senate Committee for International Narcotics Control, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, said yesterday that Mexican cartels are “disproportionately represented” in U.S. marijuana crop, but has not established whether they direct and give instructions from Mexico.
“Criminal groups benefit from remote lands that allow traffickers to operate and grow crops on a large scale, marijuana limiting the possibility of being detected and without owning any land that can be confiscated,” said Kerlikowske.
The Director of Research Forest Service, David Ferrell, said that over the past five years, 80% of those arrested for their involvement with marijuana are Mexican nationals without proper documentation to reside legally in the United States.
According to Ferrell, between 2005 and 2010 three thousand 900 marijuana crops on land guarded by the federal government was eradicated, which represents a severe environmental impact, not only because deforestation and the reduction of the natural course of rivers, due to the large amount of water transported for irrigation, but also by the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said authorities recently found that La Familia Michoacana recently tried to obtain licenses to legally grow marijuana in California, with the excuse for medicinal purposes, but “with actual intent to traffic into neighboring states, “according to the legislator. Feinstein said this year there have been 12 homicides and 62 weapons seized in crops located in California. “We must do something to stop this. The situation in California is terrible,” Feinstein said. He added that laws on medical use of marijuana, in force in 16 states and the District of Columbia, complicate efforts by federal authorities to eradicate illegal marijuana.
Regional También are called to a meeting in Washington, Rafael Fernandez de Castro, Mexican presidential adviser, said that the Merida Initiative, which assists in the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico must become a regional plan that includes Central America to succeed. As the strategy against the cartels give results in Mexico, crime migrates to Central America, said Fernandez de Castro in the Inter-American Dialogue analysis center. “We know this is obvious, and yet we continue to work bilaterally with the United States,” said Fernandez de Castro, who this year was foreign policy adviser of President Felipe Calderon, a position he held for three years.
“We must develop a regional strategy to combat organized crime and drugs. It is the only means to deal with this problem,” he said, but admitted that the work is “very difficult . ” Separately, Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said the Merida Plan “continues to pay dividends to the interests of both nations,” when asked about the success of the program.