Things That Matter

This Shipment Of Jalapeños Turned Out To Be One Of The Year’s Biggest Marijuana Busts

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OK…so recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states (plus D.C.) and medical marijuana is legal in even more – 34 to be exact. But that doesn’t mean that cartels from south of the border aren’t continuing their trade here in the US since they often offer less expensive marijuana to customers across the US.

And as the Trump administration’s increased enforcement at the border continues, we are seeing more frequent drug busts like this one at ports of entry from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas.

Nearly four tons of marijuana were packed alongside red hot jalapeños.

Border patrol officers at a port of entry in San Diego discovered nearly four tons of marijuana hidden beneath a shipment of jalapeños, officials said.

Officers assigned to the Otay Mesa cargo facility in California discovered the large amount of weed, worth about $2.3 million, wrapped in green packaging and stashed under a mountain of red jalapeño peppers, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

A CBP officer referred the truck to secondary check when a canine team alerted to them to the shipment of peppers. 

The officer then discovered and extracted 314 large wrapped packages of marijuana, weighing 7,560 pounds, within the shipment of jalapeño peppers.

But as more states legalize marijuana, we are seeing fewer and fewer drug busts like this one.

The decline in marijuana seizures at the US-Mexico border started in 2014, the year that Colorado and Washington became the first states in the US to legalize the sale of recreational weed to adults. Nine other states, including California, the country’s most populous and wealthiest state, as well as DC, have since legalized recreational use, further eating away at cartels’ market share.

CBP congratulated the officers on the bust.

“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director, Rosa Hernandez, said in a statement.

“Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”

Of course, upon news of the major pot bust, Twitter erupted with plenty of reactions.

Many were excited to for a possible new strain of spicy pot…or hot pot. Some were taking ideas from this seizure and hoping growers would take advantage and maybe soon offer up a jalapeño flavored marijuana strand at dispensaries in states with legal weed.

While others were just in awe of the amount of weed found.

I mean 4 tons of weed…that’s more than 125,000 ounces of bud. Do the math and figure out how many joints that is…it’s a lot that’s for sure.

While some speculated that maybe the smugglers were hoping to create an entirely new market.

I mean it would definitely be a new product on the market and one that could do really well, especially in Southern California – where weed and jalapeños are as American as baseball and apple pie.

This Innocent Man’s Life Is In Ruins After Police Jailed Him For Smuggling Meth, Turns Out It Was Just Honey

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This Innocent Man’s Life Is In Ruins After Police Jailed Him For Smuggling Meth, Turns Out It Was Just Honey

All too often travel can be a very stressful experience. There’s the whole act of flying itself which for many is downright terrifying. Then you’re either rushing and still end up late or having to waste a couple of hours in an airport trying not to blow all your cash on an $8 bottle of water. Factor in traffic to and from the airport and having to pack and wait in line after line – yea, traveling can kind of suck sometimes.

But for one Maryland man, his last trip was at a whole other level of stressful and it turned into three months of absolute chaos. 

You see, on his return trip from Jamaica he was accused of flying with liquid meth.

Leon Haughton, who has lived in Maryland for 10 years, had gone back to visit his family in Jamaica over Christmas.

The 45-year-old had bought three bottles of honey from his favorite roadside stand to bring back with him.

His long ordeal started on December 29 when he landed back at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and customs agents had a dog sniff his bags. He assumed the dogs had sniffed the KFC chicken he had in his bag but was surprised when agents seized the three bottles of honey he uses to sweeten his tea.

The agents told him they suspected him of transporting liquid methamphetamine.

‘I’m 100 percent sure I don’t have drugs. I only have honey,’ Haughton recalls telling the agents, according to the Washington Post.  He fainted after they placed him in detention and he was taken to jail. 

While the authorities waited for test results, Haughton languished in jail for 82 days.

Haughton and his attorney Terry Morris believe he was stereotyped because of his race. They said he was questioned while in custody about a ‘big Jamaican gang and drug dealing conspiracy’.

The laboratory results from Maryland took more than two weeks to arrive and they came back negative.  Authorities then sent the bottles to a second laboratory in Georgia after the first was judged to be insufficiently equipped to analyze the liquids.

Although he had a green card granting him legal residence in the U.S., Haughton’s arrest set in motion a detention process with immigration. Since Houghton is not a U.S. citizen, the arrest put him at risk of being deported – not to mention the stress his family endured as they waited for his release.

The tests in Georgia, meanwhile, finally confirmed that Haughton was indeed transporting honey. The charges were dropped and he was freed on March 21 after 82 days in custody.

Call me naive but I didn’t even know liquid meth was a thing.

According to officials, liquid meth is a fairly new form of methamphetamine. Meth will be liquified and placed into familiar bottles (usually just for easier transport) and then the liquid will be boiled away leaving pure meth for the user.

For Houghton, this whole ordeal has cost him his livelihood.

Unable to work for three months and far from his six children, Haughton lost his two jobs as a cleaner and construction worker.

‘They messed up my life,’ he said. ‘I want the world to know that the system is not right. If I didn’t have strong people around me, they would probably leave me in jail. You’re lost in the system.’

‘I’m scared to even travel right now. You’re innocent, and you can end up in jail.’

OK, so the cops totally got this wrong but there actually have been cases of people smuggling in liquid meth.

Just this past May, a Border Patrol agent and his canine partner assigned to the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol Station seized approximately 118 pounds of liquid methamphetamine, worth almost four million dollars. The drugs were loaded into plastic bottles and transported over the border.

Meanwhile in Australia, smugglers are trying to sneak in liquid meth inside of snow globes.

I mean we obviously don’t condone trafficking in drugs, but I will say that’s a very creative method.

But many on Twitter were shocked at the apparent mismanagement of the entire situation.

Eventually, the charges were dropped, though officials have yet to apologize to Houghton for leaving his life in ruins. He has since lost his job as a cleaner and watched his credit score dramatically decrease due to the bills that piled up. Friends have even cut off contact.

“My kids are stressed out, my mom. Everybody was stressed out over everything. It’s a lot of stuff I’m going through,” he said. “Nobody contacted me. Nobody tell me sorry, nobody do nothing.”

Customs and Border Protection officials simply told NBC Washington that they are “reviewing procedures” while providing no information. Houghton still has not been issued an apology despite his story prompting massive outrage on social media.

With one Twitter user, @boerneman, saying “It should have never taken 82 days to do the second test to confirm what the substance was. He should file a federal civil rights lawsuit against all involved. This is a prime example of  incompetence and mismanagement.”

“He lost his 2 jobs. There’s No compensation for losing his jobs, jailed for 82 days … for NOTHING. The 3 bottles were indeed HONEY never Liquid Meth. The man got his credit messed up. It Never takes 82 freaking days to get Honey tested. The miscarriage of Justice against POC,” said another user.

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

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

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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