When One Ethnic Group Moves to a Remote Area to Grow Marijuana: the L.A. Times Writes of the ‘War’ Between Law Enforcement and Hmong Farmers

With Mexican, Hmong, and Bulgarian cartels rumored to flourish in the Emerald Triangle, a piece the L.A. Times posted Sunday captures the story of rural law enforcement battling over the character of their community with an ethnic group with different standards and values who moved into the area to grow cannabis.

The graphically rich piece captures the humanity of dirt poor immigrants struggling to survive in a hostile land–Siskiyou County.

More than 1,500 Hmong farmers in the last two years have poured into this remote county, so vast it encompasses two western mountain ranges…

It had been a hard season. A third of the 99 cannabis plants on the land bought with family money had died. …

The sisters lived amid the tall cannabis they tended, in low huts of black plastic and empty chicken manure bags lashed with orange baling twine, their mattresses on the ground. At night they eased their aches with a rinse of marijuana stems and leaves steeped in water.

And the piece captures what law enforcement believes may be criminal collusion.

So much land has changed hands so quickly in cash deals that Sheriff Jon Lopey is convinced he is fighting the hidden hand of organized crime….Public records show [Mouying] Lee and a relative, Vince Wavue Lee, tracked down the absentee owners of more than 50 lots, paid them above-market prices and then transferred the properties as “gifts” to other Hmong.

They were friends and family members who didn’t like to conduct business in English, the pair said. Sometimes they fronted the money, trusting they would be paid back. They said they made no profit…Chat boards carry tales of [Hmong] growers earning $10,000 a month. Entire family clans are invested in the marijuana operations.

Aunts, cousins and elders put their names on deeds or show up at harvest. One 2015 raid on a Siskiyou County marijuana processing house found 23 people inside, ages 19 to 77.

The story takes you to the battleground and let’s you see the struggle. As the Siskiyou County Sheriff states in the article, “This is war.”

Read the rest of this well-written piece here.

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75 comments

  • We will rue the day pot was legalized.

  • Their people too,they just do things differently.and don’t buy property without a deed. And everyone does what they do,the way they do it.

  • “It’s all medicine for sick people!” Isn’t it wonderful?

  • Sounds like tha same thing that’s been going on in So Hum for 30+ years. Why is this any different? Oh, because they are not caucasian and don’t speak English.

    • The point is that it not different to law enforcement as to facts. One major problem for them though is that somehow in the mystical world that insists diversity is a moral principle, having a closed group based on race or national identity committing felonies is especially touchy, as Obama put it, due to ‘optics.’ As your post reflects.

      The other is that a race or nationality of family based crime syndicate is harder to hold accountable because the evidence will be hidden based on trust between members rather than legal formalism that can be evidence.

  • What a joke, if you don’t want the cops at your house don’t brake the fuckin law, they know it’s illegal to sell drugs for money, and right now pot is a schedule 1 drug defiantly was in 2015 so cry me a river, ooo the cops are racist because I’m braking the law give me a brake.

    • brake your truck. you are breaking my face….and crack a book now and then!

    • I would guess from your tone you would support states rights, if the feds said the guns used for hunting were illegal federally but your state said those kind were fine, would you still think this? Or if a substance that eats tumors and stops seizures in children was outlawed federally?
      Not everything made illegal by the feds is right. We give the most money to Israel and they are the biggest researchers of marijuana in the world. They just proved it helped broken bone mend after also finding that certain strains of pot eats some kinds of cancerous tumors. Pretty hypocritical, our tax money is helping fund research.

      Read about the federal search and seize regs and how those supercede state laws if the police ask a federal agency to assist. The feds want their piece too. You could be accused of a crime and have all of your stuff including house/land/bank holdings/vehicles seized even if you are never charged with said crime by the feds. Does that sound fair? All it would take is someone whos a CI or arrested to talk and say youre involved even if your not. Check out how the laws play out.
      Do you really think pot is as bad as heroin but meth isnt? Our country would have never survived without pot.

      The focus on pot is pulling much needed resources away from the real problematic drug issues, heroin and meth. And what about fake pot and bath salts. Oh and locally the teens seem to have an endless supply of xanax and other pills. Who do you think continues to lobby hard against pots listing change? Big pharm companies.
      But pots ruining the country, right.

      • I’m not going to bother arguing with you, you already know me right? I am pro full legalization I don’t care about what the Feds say, I don’t think pot is all bad certainly not even close to a hard drug, I live in ca so my guns are already kept away, it’s stupid to me when people knowingly break the law selling illegal drugs in the black market and then cry racism when they get caught, they know full well what the risks are, if its worth it to you take it, but don’t go crying to the la times when it happens, childish in my opinion.

        • State rights do not mean that each State gets to decide whatever they want. The Constitution designates certain decisions to be under Federal control. It also mentions certain things that the responsibility that are reserved for the States. What is not assigned by the Constitution is reserved for the States or the people. Of course the definition of all those words has been elaborated over the years.

          I know that pot lovers make extravagant and down right fantastic claims for pot but how was the survival of the US dependent on pot?

          • Alcohol Prohibition needed a constitutional amendment because the constitution didn’t give the feds power to ban alcohol.

            Later the courts expanded “interstate commerce” control so much that the feds successfully argued, in Raich, that weed grown within a state and gifted–not sold–is within fed control.

            They said the fact Raich removed herself from the interstate (illicit) market meant that she was still impacting it, therefore her conduct was liable to federal control.

            That’s drug-crazy precedent making.

      • Well the differance in your post is that states do have rights , to pass laws that arent protected under the constution, the 2nd is protected no state or federal law has a right to change that. Something like drug laws that arent protected states can do as they wish, so while i see the point you are attempting to make i find it lacking.

      • Heroin epidemic? How does all that opium, the vast majority of which is grown and produced in
        Afghanistan, make its way over here to (the) US? Afghanistan is one of the most surveilled places
        on the planet. Drones, satellites, CIA, U. S. military are scrutinizing this country at all times. Supposedly, a drone pilot sitting at a computer can almost tell what brand of cigarettes a “high value terrorist” is smoking before they blow him away. (Oops, it turned out to be a wedding party). But none of these agents can determine that tons of opium is being packaged and loaded and transported?
        Enter… the CIA…it has been documented for decades, from Vietnam to the present, what this agency’s role has been in the drug business. Do a search on the interweb. Maybe it will open your eyes. It has been a big circle jerk from the beginning. Drug war? ha ha …you got it.

    • Hey [edit] being a white person with German lineage I was raided June 1st before I was done planting last year because police were told Mexicans were threatening to shoot people. Again I have no guns and am white but I grow pot. Just after my raid where they tried to extort me, yes real extortion by deputies and the da, out of my legally purchased items I could prove we’re legal they held a large area from voting by blocking the road with deputies armed and wearing vests. They then changed addresses of people
      With cannabis records so their ballots would be counted as previsionary only to be counted in a tie. Elder people that resided here their whole lives in the town. This law change took our county from 99 plants legal to 12 and indoor only mid summer after everyone’s made their investments. Then we vote 61% yes on the last election but now we’re in a state of emergency. Lopez has been begging for more funds and after 3 separate times voting we said no he got it anyways. The Hmong that are here have to be here because they had their land destroyed in the Vietnam war BY US and are given our rights by our gov a long time ago after being brought here. So much more but you’re like my dead grandfather. Ignorant as it gets. Hope u all die off soon. They are screwing me with falsified evidence and photos of my other white neighboors who actually are organized crime.

  • Sounds more like typical bigotry and hate of people that look and act different than the ones that have always lived there.

  • These Hmong people are polite, keep to themselves, dont destroy the earth by polluting it with pesticides etc. Unlike the Mexicans and Bulgarians do. ive seen first hand how the Hmongs do their business, you wont even know they were growing when they are done, unlike the Mexs, and Bulgarians places are left when they get busted, or leave with their crop!!! Pot never should have been legalized here in CA, seems to me the crime has gone up 100%, its not so much the older “”Mom/Pop” growers,they respect the land, but what these new big growers do to the land, and attract from around the country to do the trimming.

    • not true. i have also seen their grows and know that they use illegal pesticicdes that are banned in CA, and they also use inorganic fertilizers. They burn all their trash, no matter what chemicals or toxins it contains, and many of them are gangster thugs toting guns.

    • Are you fracking joking?! Wrong! Have you ever been in the Dinsmore store? The little Hmomg women are always in there huddled up at the pesticide and fungicide section of the store. They buy poison and damn better believe they use it!

      • The problem starts then with the Dinsmore store. No moral compass. Sell decent alternatives. Why keep poisons in a store? Sick situation!

        • No it doesn’t lol it’s legal to sell it, common household stuff, the problem is the person who uses it irresponsibly and does dispose of it properly. Should they not sell gas because someone could pour it in a creek?

  • If you have an accent you must be in a cartel.

  • They escaped communism only to discover the land of the free is more communist than free? https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hmong
    Wouldn’t it be an idea to help them get up to code by handing them helpful tutorial’s and time honored traditional citations? Arm them with knowledge, skills and lists of businesses in the area who can help them comply?
    Fining, destroying, arresting, and relying on “complaints” just like the Soviet Union did, is not the American way. Well, it didn’t use to be. It sure is now.
    I can’t wait until the real American’s file real complaints against the communists who are ruining our nation.
    Oh wait, that’s already happened. Crickets.

    • Please refer to the cheerleader heatstroke article forums where shak advocates the use of nicotine patches for teenage cheerleaders. Now he teaches us that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are, in fact, Marxists.

      • I’m so honored that you chose me as your personal obsession. Not.
        Grow up.
        Stop attacking posters.
        Kym blesses your attacks on people who don’t follow the narrative, you make her smile.
        I’m happy I was able to bring this to full light.

    • In Siskiyou, as in many other Northstate counties, compliance means no outdoor or greenhouse growing.

      $50,000+ inspected, code-compliant buildings in which one can grow 6-12 plants is probably not compatible with their business model.

  • Come-hmong guys don’t pull the race card 😂Us whities have been dealing with these problems since day one. Sorry it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

  • shawn the fisherman

    Please stop criminal growers. Please stop criminal enterprises. Please stop the organized crime that is pouring into our Emerald Triangle. FBI should be enforcing, Targeting organized crime members and grows. That would be great. Thanks

  • Marijuana Laws Were Meant 2 B Racist

    The laws were designed to be racist: the original cannabis laws were meant to take the place of equal justice; the racists in the 1930’s knew that blacks and Hispanic workers enjoyed their cannabis, the oppression of these people was easy; since they couldn’t just arrest folks for being black or hispanic, the powers that be focused on the habits and behaviors these people were known for; Cannabis and Marijuana were grown and enjoyed by farm workers, how easy it would be to just outlaw the things that these ethnic minorities enjoyed, then they could literally practice genocide and oppression by ridding communities of blacks and Hispanics and poor southern whites by arresting them for Marijuana use, cultivation and posession! People in prison do not breed, and do not have children! Same thing here, the Siskyou Government does not want Asians or other nationalitie’s living in their county, they especially don’t want other ethnic groups growing or prospering from cannabis, this is a no brained considering most Sheriff Departments in Nor Cal have “good old boy networks” which originated in the 1800’s in the Odd Fellows Halls and Masonic Temples, it was “wash my back I will wash yours”, judges, attorneys, bankers, mental hospital directors, police, sheriffs, they would all cover for eachother , just like the Indian Island Massacre the perpetrators were never brought to justice, but non-members had the book thrown at them, arrested by Masonic Sheriffs, represented by masonic attorneys, and sentenced by masonic judges, they lost their mortgages to masonic bankers like the Masonic Savings Bank of Mendocino County who profiteer ed off many people locked up in jail and the Mendocino State Hospital, all they needed was a Sheriff, a witness and a judge and they could lock one up in the Mendocino Insane Asylum and the bank foreclosed on their farms and homes. This state was built on corruption, racism and slave labor. This is no different, oppressing one ethnic group while other groups profiteering from racial oppression, all smoke and mirrors while the good old boys, and their families get away with murder (literally) and laugh all the way to the bank.

    • Modern legalization laws never applied to the Homeboys, both black an’ tan; in LA, or Oakland, or Fresno. The only place you could pull a “medical card.” and not have it torn up, was in the white communities. Legalization was for white-people. Cops used to laugh when someone of color would try to pull out a medical recommendation.
      No, it wasn’t fair. But it’s how it was.

    • nothings changed, our govenor is protecting immigrants so they can pick the rich mans crops! lettuce grapes dope celery tomatoes citrus apples you name it! dont you think it strange that a government would open its doors all in good will, just for love an socialism, hogwash! dont be fooled. follow the money you will never be wrong.

  • Good get thm mutha fμ©k€r§. Cops need to start nabbing thm here in humboldt as well.

  • It’s the”green rush” take everything you can get and run. Leave the locals to clean trash and drink the polluted water . Defend it today, but everyone will deal with it sooner or later.

    GREED COMES IN ALL COLORS

  • 2 weeks ago, 2 hmong got arrested in Siskiyou….

    Feds: Pot Growers Offered Siskiyou County Sheriff $1 Million Bribe

    https://www.google.com/amp/sacramento.cbslocal.com/2017/09/01/feds-pot-growers-offered-siskiyou-county-sheriff-1-million-bribe/amp/

  • Trying to grow more than a dozen plants in Siskiyou is foolish. It is well known as an anti-pot county.

    • Foolish to grow more than 12 plants that’s hilarious residents of siskiyou have been growing 48 plants and up for decades. Usually yielding 5 to 10 pounds a piece out there and sometimes more. Siskiyou has always been a outlaw county with very little enforcement to speak of even worse than humboldt and trinity. Ever been to forks of salmon?? Didn’t think so

  • War? What war? Is this a joke?

  • Thanks for the Times’ article, Kym. What a story it is, and I couldn’t help feeling empathy for the Hmong, especially after learning of their connection to the Viet Nam war.

  • This is America,fuck the [edit] and Mexican and the Bulgarians.they moved here to grow weed,now they are crying because they got busted.fuck them.hope you don’t edit this Kym.

    • What does America have to do with this? You must be white if you’re calling every race out. Of course, only “white” people can do it. When everyone else does it it’s a crime. White privilege much?? They aren’t crying. The only ones crying are you and rest of that town who is mad. Look who brings in work and money into that sorry ass city. Look how much money your store have made over these 2/3 years??! Sure wasn’t you and your income? Once all the “Hamongs” leave, your town will be broke again.

  • The south wanted to govern there on state but because the French and British wanted to intervene we now have democracy. The civil war was over cotton trade not slavery,the French brought slavery to us,racism came from Africa,they sold there own people.

  • Actually there is a little more to this story. In 1983 a hmong family of seven moved to a area north of mt. shasta city. They were really hungry so they ate Lasy. The sheriff got mad so thay ate the sheriff k9. Now thats war. Its been a problem ever sense.

  • The point is, that most of these workers not all unicorns and rainbows, many of them are virtually slaves.

  • FYI for those of you who might be interested. Starting this Sunday @8:00 pm PBS will start airing an extremely educational and informative, unedited 10 part series called “The Vietnam War” directed by Ken Burns.

    • I think we should tear down all the statues and monuments that remind us of that war because it offends me. Reminds me of the racism and oppression for the nva. (Sarc).

  • Sigh, Why is it always a “Racial Thing” It is a “Legal Thing” People!! Plain and simple….

    • Not when they call out “The Hmongs”… you don’t see any other reporters or journalist stating “Black/Mexican people going into war with Siskiyou cops”. Smh. Of course it’s racist!

  • If they have a problem with our laws maybe they they should go home. Seems like everyone is out to steal their slice of the American pie.There is only so much to go around.

  • Gotta say it: The posts on this article (thanks, Kym) are some of the ugliest I’ve ever read. I hoped for a kinder world up there in Humboldt. I even put in for retirement up there.
    Political experiences helped me understand how isolation feeds into xenophobia, and the resulting ascendency of the Me First/Me Only attitude, but the bigotry revealed in these particular posts is simply disgusting, uninformed, and hateful. Pee-U!

  • Slice it any way you want. Minorities always like to pull out the race card whenever things don’t go their way.Liberal socialists want things one sided always.You can’t have another opinon or they want to stomp you out.America land of the free,as long as you think like me! Even kym kemp must admit that this is a country built on free speech.All opions matter!

    • You say as you freely write insults on my webpage….However, you are right “even” Kym Kemp admits that most speech, no matter how irritating, should be allowed. Some speech that I deem too hateful though gets trashed.

  • If they dont stop them nobody will have a dog left

  • Deport the White Europeans back to Europe. They are taking over.

  • Please do not stereotype all Hmong Farmers and paint them with one broad brush stroke.

    Kym posted an article from the New York Times of a group of Hmong Farmers in Trinity County who have effectively assimilated and influenced equitable Regulations for all farmers. There is still work to be done, however, they were successful in getting the conversation started. Let’s hope that this ugly mess in Siskiyou will start the same dialogue there as well. There is enough to feed everyone in this industry. It is a shame that it has to get so ugly before it gets better.

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