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.