A Happy New Year for the Drug Cartels

Anxious and depressed, Alexandra Capelouto, 19, a student at Arizona State University, noticed an ad for the opiate oxycontin in social media on the internet. She made the purchase and swallowed the pill, not knowing it was laced with deadly fentanyl. She soon died of suffocation. Her grieving father Matt said “she was a casualty of a war not being fought.The terrorist organization which is responsible for more American deaths than any other is operating unabated just a few miles south of our border.”

Alexandra Capelouto. Photo by: https://druginducedhomicide.org/

The Mexican drug cartels, in fact, are blamed for100 thousand American deaths from overdose in a year’s time – a record probably to be surpassed this year, making it a very Happy New Year for the cartels. if for nobody else. The  2000 mile border is largely open to migrants of all countries and attitudes and to drugs. Fentanyl is the choice and the most dangerous. Yet the current U.S. Government is more preoccupied with the Ukrainian border than its own. Some elements are even urging war with Russia rather than with the immediate threat of the cartels now inside the country.

Seizing the opportunity of a seemingly complacent U.S, the cartels have moved fast. When I was in the Mojave desert of California last July, people talked of a thousand cartel farms in the region. Now the Louisville Courier Journal reports some ten thousand of varying size in Mendocino alone, a county in northern California. Local law enforcement is overwhelmed. Twenty-one police must patrol an area of 3506 square miles. “I’m fighting a dragon with a needle,” Sheriff Matt Kendall told the Courier Journal in its week long investigation, a rarity for a mostly indifferent media.

The aim of the cartels is to undercut the legitimate marijuana growers who are subject to taxes and regulations. With this advantage the cartel farms keep to themselves, well protected by guns, fences, security cameras and pit bulls. Signs warn “Keep out.” People do in a climate of fear. Dead bodies have turned up along with unexplained disappearances. Are we becoming Mexico? people ask, noting despondently the excessive trash around the farms, the poaching of water in a time of drought, the chemicals contaminating the soil and killing wildlife.

Marijuana Farms. Photo by Frank Giles

The Epoch Times reports a similar situation in Oregon, where hundreds of workers  are brought north from Mexico to work at the farms in a kind of “narco-slavery.” People living quietly in rural areas are astonished by the sudden onset of noisy  night and day operations with trucks coming in and out, guns firing, music blaring. Still, property prices have skyrocketed. Residents can’t afford to buy, but cartels can. With the legalization of marijuana in much of the U,S., the cartels must grow it here to keep its share of the market. This they do by selling it throughout the country. They are also aware that they thrive best where the state is weakest. That is how they basically took over Mexico, according to a new book by Benjamin West, “The Dope,” a history of Mexican narcotics. The cartels used to have to pay authorities to do business. Now they are the authorities who collect the pay. It may be no coincidence that the farms are sprouting in states like Oregon and California which are in disarray from crime and poor government and thus vulnerable to cartel intrusion. The question is how far will it go?

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