The Mexican border has moved 800 miles north- On Lou Dobbs Tonight!
And up next, we'll take you on a massive manhunt and raid as authorities try to crush Mexican drug rings operating inside the United States. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Mexican drug cartels are operating not only with impunity across the border with Mexico, but with impunity deep within the United States; 800 miles from Mexico, drug traffickers are now operating on the California/Oregon border in our nation's national forests.
Authorities, this week, seized $80 million of marijuana. But officials say the bust was only the tip of the iceberg.
CASEY WIAN, CNN (on the ground in the Siskiyou Mountains): Just after dawn Tuesday, 100 law enforcement officers meet at a staging area in the Klamath National Forest.
They're preparing to raid a massive marijuana growing operation linked to Mexican drug traffickers. These rugged mountains provide perfect cover for huge marijuana gardens, which are overwhelming the tiny Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department. So, it's working with nearly a dozen federal, state and local agencies.
As the operations commander begins a reconnaissance flight, medics get ready.
DARRELL FROST, SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: The Mexican cartel type stuff, is these folks are willing to protect their marijuana groves and so the potential for trauma from gunshot wounds is high.
WIAN: Deputies head out to set up a perimeter hoping to catch growers before they flee. Then the raid begins. (on camera): Marijuana gardens are located in such remote terrain that sheriff deputies must be air lifted in by helicopter, two at a time on a rope. Another chopper hovers above the garden providing cover in case these growers shoot at the incoming deputies.
From the air, the marijuana is easy to spot. On the ground, it's overwhelming, thousands of plants eight feet tall.
SHERIFF RICK RIGGINS, SISKIYOU COUNTY CALIFORNIA: This is the bud. These plants probably have a couple of more months before they get there. But this is where the money is at.
WIAN: And the money appears headed to Mexico. From the living quarters and supplies, to sophisticated irrigation systems, these gardens bare all the signs of Mexican drug traffickers. The SWAT team pursued about a dozen men though the thick timber.
WIAN: Though they escaped, deputies seized plenty of evidence, including boxes of .45 caliber bullets, notebooks in Spanish and a cell phone. Investigators are tracking the kingpin.
What we have to do is gather every bit of information we can from in here and the intel that we can and try to put it together to track these guys back.
WIAN: Meanwhile other agents begin cutting the plants. Each one worth about $5,000; 12 hours after the operation began, deputies continue to stack load after load of dope. They cut 12,000 plants the first day. The two-day total, about 16,000 plants with a street value of $80 million.
LT. JIM BETTS, SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: We've got a rural area, that hunting season is going to be starting in another week. There's going to be a lot of people coming into the woods here. And for the safety of those people, we needed to get this out of here.
WIAN: Eight hundred miles from the Mexican border, Mexican drug traffickers are spreading throughout this and other national forests. But a familiar problem is on the traffickers' side. Federal money for operations like this is scarce.
Casey Wian, CNN, Siskiyou County, California.
[Note: Since this report, KTVL TV Medford, OR. reports LEOs are still locating farms in this area of Siskiyou County. These farms clear cut the land and terraced out in the open on the hillside. They get braver and braver. Many plants were 10 to 12 feet tall]
Another Big Pot Bust, This Time in California
September 13, 2006 - 9:30AM
A major marijuana bust outside of Yreka leaves authorities searching for suspects.
4 pot gardens were busted on Tuesday in Horse Creek. A total of 30,000 to 50,000 plants were found that may be worth up to $250 million.
SWAT teams from Jackson and Siskiyou Counties secured the area as crews began removal of the plants.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Rick Riggins said SWAT teams chased several people who were near the gardens on Tuesday, but no word yet on any arrests.
Friday, April 14, 2006 "Green cards and gangs" which was followed up by Michelle Malkin's article " Gangland".
The photos here were taken by Sheriff Rick Riggins in Siskiyou County, California during raids of these farms . He has graciously allowed us to present them.
This is some of the beautiful land and forests that are being destroyed by these foreign invaders. Helicopters had to be used to take out the crops and access the farms. The Sheriff told me they are already grouping to grow again this year, all over the Northwest.
Hundreds of trees are cut to build villages to live in while the cartels protect their investments.
This perp ran , fell and hurt himself. The sheriffs had to go in and take him out with a helicopter for medical treatment. As if paying to house them in jail isn't enough.
A notebook left by one of the "growers". It shows gang symbols as well as records for money "earned".
This is just one of the guns found at a raided camp.
Take note of the "shrine" on the right to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Just good Christians growing the dope that would put a citizen in jail for a long time. Think what the environmentalists and the law would do to you, if you did this to our forests!
Please note the huge holes dug to plant. The land is scraped of any natural vegetation. Water is piped in from the natural watershed. Chemicals are spread over hundreds of acres. The trees are skinned with only a canopy left for cover. Remember, US citizens aren't allowed to touch anything in our National Forests.
The "kitchen". Notice the candles beneath in all the garbage.
Here is one of the many huge pits dug to conceal crops, garbage, etc. ,big enough for an SUV.
The 'crop', from a raid last summer. These farms cover hundreds of acres with tens of thousands plants.
More from Lou Dobbs 9/15/06
Mexican drug rings using U.S. national forests to grow marijuana. We'll have that special report, and a great deal more, straight ahead.
DOBBS: Tonight this nation's national forests are being overrun by Mexican drug cartels and their marijuana-growing operations. We reported earlier this week on a massive marijuana bust in a national forest in Northern California, 800 miles from the Mexican border. Officials are almost certain that Mexican drug gangs are behind this operation, and many more around the country.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT : We accompanied law enforcement agents on a massive bust of a marijuana-growing operation in Northern California this week.
In two days, sheriff's deputies, the FBI, and others, seized 25,000 marijuana plants, weighing more than six tons with a street value of $125 million. They also seized evidence linking the operation to Mexican drug traffickers, but the growers got away.
SHERIFF RICK RIGGINS, SISKIYOU COUNTY, CALIF.: These guys work up there seven days a week, they live up there. And so these guys are in very good shape. They have their exits all planned.
WIAN: But there may be a break in the case. The Siskiyou County sheriff's department says it has seven illegal aliens in custody. They were discovered by local residents just a few miles from the pot farms. So far this year California's justice department has eradicated 1.2 million marijuana plants, worth nearly $5 billion, mostly on public land such as national forests.
SCOTT MCGREGOR, U.S. ATTORNEY, EAST CA. DISTRICT: Literally without exception, in terms of these very large groves, on the federal public lands over the last three years, every one of them -- in terms of the suspects that we've caught and the evidence that has led us to who we believe the perpetrators were involved, Mexican nationals.
WIAN: In California, the number of plants seized in marijuana gardens has doubled in just two years. Mexican methamphetamine traffickers are using proceeds in that business to diversify in marijuana. Among the consequences of the pot farms, devastating environmental damage from deforestation, trash and irrigation systems.
MCGREGOR: They also will throw chemicals in these and bags of fertilizer, which will leach into the water system.
JOHN GAINES, CALIF. BUREAU OF NARC ENFORCEMENT: These are all damage to our natural resources that our citizens, you know, shouldn't have to put up from the occupying force of foreigners, that are coming in here and taking over our land.
WIAN: As the marijuana gardens grow in size and the law enforcement efforts intensify, agents say traffickers are becoming more violent, and are a significant threat to recreational users of our national parks and forests. Now the FBI is still looking for hard evidence that the seven illegal aliens in custody in Siskiyou County are directly related to those marijuana-growing operations. If they can't find the evidence, the men will be deported, possibly within the next day or two.