Things That Matter

Mexican Marijuana Traffickers Are Behind The Poisoning Of California Forests Caused By A Banned Pesticide

There are growing concerns in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains due to illegal pesticides that are being used for illegal marijuana-growing sites in the area. Law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced major operations are underway targeting these sites. Officials say that Mexican drug traffickers are the culprits behind the marijuana grows and have already discovered close to 25,000 marijuana plants cultivated illegally within California’s national forests in the last month. 

“These are federal lands, and they are being systematically destroyed through clear-cutting, stream diversion, chemicals, and pesticides,” U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said at a news conference

Law enforcement is most concerned about the pesticide, carbofuran, that is being used on these plants. The pesticide is toxic to wildlife and humans and can cause permanent reproductive damage. 

Credit: @LATimes / Twitter

While the large marijuana grow is enough to cause concern for law enforcement, the banned pesticide, Carbofuran, being used is making matters worse. According to Quartz, the substance was very common for farmers as it was once sprayed on American corn, cotton, potatoes, sunflowers, and other crops. The pesticide in question was pulled off the legal U.S. market more than a decade ago due to its deadly harm. It’s also been known to cause permanent damage to human nervous and reproductive systems and is toxic to wildlife and waterways. 

The pesticide also happened to kill more birds in the U.S. than any other pesticide ever known. It would also be banned in Europe, Canada, and Brazil, shortly after. 

Carbofuran has been a continuing problem in California despite its ban. The pesticide has been a known favorite for illegal pot operators, nine out of every 10 illegal pot farms raided in California were found to be using it last year, according to the Associated Press

Another issue that has risen is the water usage that these illegal cannabis farms in California are wasting. The LA Times notes that on average one illegal farm uses a minimum of 5.4 million gallons of water annually to cultivate 6,000 plants. 

“Water is the most important issue in California, and the amount being used to grow an illegal product in the national forest is mind-boggling It’s a vitally important issue,” Scott said. 

Investigators say there’s been a spike in illegal marijuana grows in California that is being operated by Mexican drug traffickers. 

Credit: @pablorodas / Twitter

The news conference came less than two days after two men from Michoacan, Mexico, Lester Eduardo Cardenas Flores, and Luis Reyes Madrigal, were caught operating an illegal marijuana-growing site in the Sierra Mountains. Both men were formally charged Tuesday in Fresno federal court with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute large quantities of marijuana.

Scott says illegal immigrants from Mexico have been a common theme when it comes to finding these marijuana operations. Both Madrigal and Flores were illegal immigrants and were linked to other Mexican marijuana traffickers. The penalty for both of their charges could be anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

“We’ve prosecuted hundreds of person, without exception..they’re all here illegally and all undocumented from Mexico,” Scott said.”We want to find the people funding these operations.”

There is hope that these latest arrests send a signal to traffickers and legislative change follows as well.

Credit: @MarilynM / Twitter

Marijuana-growing sites being connected to Mexican drug groups have been a growing issue for years. But Scott says with the recent spike of chemical use being found it only adds to the urgency of shutting these operations down. Back in July, agents and officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed in on another illegal grow operation deep within the Stanislaus National Forest. The raid turned up with over 2,500 marijuana plants and one loaded handgun.

While this has been an issue for years, officials says with the legalization of recreational marijuana in California back in 2016. Environmentalists and scientists agree that legalization of the cultivation of marijuana could be the best solution to prevent this from happening in the future. But for now, this is an issue that law enforcement doesn’t see stopping anytime soon. 

“I want to be perfectly clear, none of what we are talking about is legal under anyone’s marijuana laws,” Scott said. “This isn’t about the marijuana, it’s about the damage that’s being done. What is happening here is illegal under anybody’s law. Everything that we are talking about is as equally illegal under California law as it under federal law.”

READ: A Judge In Mexico City Has Approved One Couple’s Request For Recreational Cocaine

Doorbell Camera Shows A Woman Seeking Help From Neighbors As Captor Pulls Her Away

Things That Matter

Doorbell Camera Shows A Woman Seeking Help From Neighbors As Captor Pulls Her Away

There is a disturbing video out of Arcadia, California that shows a man attacking his estranged girlfriend. The footage was captured on a neighbor’s Ring doorbell as the woman ran for help. The culprit, Robert Michael Mendez, 27, has been charged with suspicion of attempted murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment after Arcadia Police say they received footage of him dragging and assaulting the women. 

Ring doorbell surveillance footage shows Richard Michael Mendez dragging away his estranged girlfriend from a neighbors front door. 

The doorbell video shows the woman running to a neighbors front door and knocking for help. Mendez then runs up to her, grabs her by the hair and drags her away as she screams.

Authorities received the Ring doorbell footage taken from a home in the area of Santa Anita Avenue and Camino Real Avenue at around 11:40 p.m. that appeared to show a man, later identified as Mendez, dragging the woman who had showed up at the home begging for assistance. 

“The extent of the female’s injuries were severe enough to warrant hospitalization,” a police news release said. “Investigation also revealed that the female victim had been held against her will inside the residence since late (Sunday) evening.”

Many people have been shocked to see the disturbing footage that has made rounds on national news. 

Credit: @kandisscronetv / Twitter

The homeowners of where the attack happened sent the video to the police who then began searching through the neighborhood for Mendez. Upon knocking on his door, authorities identified him as the suspect. They also found the woman inside his home and she was quickly rushed to the hospital with significant injuries. Mendez was taken into custody without incident. 

Authorities say the woman was being held against her will at Mendez’s house since September 29. While fellow neighbors said that Mendez had kept to himself, they did notice numerous cars coming in and out of his house.

“I thought she was going to die,” Arcadia neighbor Tammy Raycraft told KCAL/KCBS, noting that she saw the entire incident go down. “We looked out the side window over here and witnessed him stomping on her, pulling her by her hair … it was awful. It was really traumatic to watch.”

The surveillance footage was provided by Ring, the Amazon-owned technology company, which has partnered with more than 400 police departments nationwide. But some people say this might infringe on privacy rights.

Credit: @mayawiley / Twitter

This incident is an example of how Ring and other tech companies have helped law enforcement agencies across the country find similar fugitives. As of now, Ring has stated that they are working with 405 police departments nationwide. The goal of this partnership is to convince people to not only buy the device but also sign up for its neighborhood watch app. In return, police get access to your Ring video footage with your permission. 

While the technology partnership has support, some worry about certain privacy issues. Police can still request video footage directly from Amazon if it has been uploaded to its cloud and the request is sent within 60 days of recording. This can happen even if an individual denies police access to that video footage.

While this only applies to users who live near law enforcement agencies that are working with Ring, it does set precedent for future surveillance technology. In this case, it helped lead to an arrest that might have never happened if it wasn’t for the video footage.

READ: Lupita Nyong’o Wrote A Children’s Book About The Prejudice In Favor Of Lighter Skin Color And It’s Out This Month

America’s First Marijuana Cafe Opened In LA And The Reviews Are Sky High

Culture

America’s First Marijuana Cafe Opened In LA And The Reviews Are Sky High

LowellCafe / Instagram

This week, West Hollywood’s first Cannabis Café opened up for business. Marijuana retail giant, Lowell Farms, is opening up it’s doors in WeHo as a restaurant and bar, slash lounge, and shop, that offers the country’s first “farm-to-table experience for both cuisine and cannabis”. 

Unfortunately, none of the food will be infused with cannabis —but you’ll be able to smoke it or vape it.

LowellCafe / Instagram

There won’t be any cannabis in the actual food, because state laws prohibit the sale of food infused with cannabis. Instead, the dishes on the menu will complement the various strains of cannabis that will be for sale. You’ll be able to smoke your weed or vape it, and mix it with the food on the menu, kind of like you pair food with wine. Lowell Farms is a functional restaurant with servers and a special air-filtration system that sucks up and filters the smoke from the weed people will be smoking everywhere. 

Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by a “budtender”, who will be your cannabis guide.

Leafly

The budtender will help you on your cannabis experience and will help personalize your order. Additionally you will also have a server who will get your food and nonalcoholic beverages—there’s no booze for sale because of state laws. The menu has all the classic café offerings; salads, sandwiches, avocado toast, mac n cheese bites and vegan nachos to name a few options. Chef Andrea Drummer was inspired by the different flavor profiles in the strains of cannabis, so each dish will be accompanied by a suggested product to smoke or vape.

According to the LA Times, the opening menu includes “miso-glazed pork belly, jalapeño mac and cheese bites, vegan nachos, sticky tamarind wings, house-made pickles and avocado and white bean hummus.”

The cannabis menu though, is much more extensive. 

LowellCafe / Instagram

Restaurant director Kevin Brady compared the cannabis menu with a wine list, in that all products are seasonal and rich in their own way. Most of them will be supplied by the Lowell Farms organic cannabis farm in Santa Barbara—the parent company behind the restaurant, and they’re not cheap. A single-strain pre-roll can set you back between $18 and $30. And if you’re looking for something a little stronger, there’s also a “Dab Bar” which is essentially where you’ll find stronger weed for the experienced consumer.

The Do’s and Don’ts at Lowell Farms Café.

LowellCafe / Instagram

West Hollywood created eight cannabis consumption licenses. And according to the restaurant, Lowell Farms was granted the very first one —out of more than 300 applicants. Which makes this restaurant, the first business of its kind in the U.S. and as such, there are a few new rules set in place to keep things running smoothly. The café will be open until 2am with a last call for cannabis at 9:50pm —unless pre-ordered and pre-paid, in which case you’ll be able to enjoy your purchases until close. The space is 21 and older, and you’ll need to bring a drivers license, passport or valid ID if you plan on purchasing any weed. Oh, and payment for cannabis will only be accepted in cash —though you can pay for food and drink with credit or debit cards. You may smoke and vape both inside the dining room and the patio but not on any front-facing outdoor area. 

You’ll be able to smoke or consume edibles you bring from your own personal collection for a small “tokage” fee, similar to a corkage fee, of $40. Taking unfinished cannabis products home is not allowed, but you can take your food leftovers though. You can either bring your own bongs or pipes, or you can rent one from the restaurant. And you’ll be able drink beer or wine only on the front patio —once the restaurant secures a license.

If you want to take some products home, there’s even a little shop.

LowellCafe / Instagram

Resembling a dispensary area that will offer edibles, vapes, concentrates and buds. Another great thing about this café is that Lowell’s has made a policy of hiring people who have served time for nonviolent cannabis-related crimes (as advertised on a billboard on the side of the freeway: “Pot Offenders Wanted“). 

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe opens on October 1 at 1201 N La Brea Ave, with hours of 10am-2am daily.