This is from an article in The Epoch Times. As a native Oregonian, 4th generation, I am sickened!
Seven years after Oregon legalized recreational marijuana, the market for cannabis is booming. But rather than propagate a legal agricultural sector that grows the state’s economy as intended, the industry has taken a dark turn in Southern Oregon. Today, it’s cultivating an ecosystem of international organized crime, human trafficking, and environmental degradation.
By 2020, legal marijuana sales in Oregon topped $1.1 billion a year, contributing $150 million to state revenue, which funded schools, mental health and drug treatment programs, and the Oregon State Police. (Where’s the other $850 million?)
“Drug traffickers flocked here from every state in the nation and nearly a dozen countries,” including China, Russia, Bulgaria, and Argentina, Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel told The Epoch Times. A growing operation can generate nearly $1 billion each year, and the sheriff estimates there are hundreds of illegal grows in his county alone.
“That’s why the cartels are here,” Daniel said. “Some people will do anything for that kind of money. Murder. Rape. Traffic human beings.” Oregon state Rep. Lily Morgan, a Republican, agrees.“We estimate that about 10,000 migrant workers have been brought to the county by bus and truck,” Morgan told The Epoch Times. Daniel later sees them in squalid conditions. “We served one search warrant and found nearly 300 migrant workers,” he said. Locked in a barn, “they were fed twice a day and had no running water or other facilities.”
They declined law enforcement offers of help. “These people are narco-slaves,” Daniel said. “They’re afraid that the cartels will kill them or their families back home, so they don’t talk.” When a grow is done, they are often abandoned. Though slavery is the most shocking issue, the effects on the environment and livability are also profound. “Illegal growers steal massive amounts of water and are depleting our water tables,” Morgan said.
Though his county is now partnering with the FBI, DHS, and other law enforcement organizations, Sheriff Daniel said his staff is overwhelmed with what he calls a national security issue. The issue finally drew national attention last month during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, when Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to prioritize and direct more federal resources to local law enforcement in places such as southern Oregon. For Sheriff Daniel, help can’t come soon enough.
-Brenda Charter, Beaver