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Mexican army finds country’s biggest marijuana plantation ever, almost 300 acres

  1. jon-q
    [/imgr] MEXICO CITY — Mexican soldiers found the largest marijuana plantation ever detected in Mexico, a huge field covering almost 300 acres (120 hectares), the Defense Department said Thursday.

    The plantation is four times larger than the second biggest marijuana fields ever found by authorities, discovered at a ranch in northern Chihuahua state in 1984.

    The pot plants sheltered under black screen-cloth in a huge square on the floor of the Baja California desert, more than 150 miles (250 kms) south of the U.S. border.

    Video of the plantation showed a sophisticated system of piped-in irrigation to support the plants, some of which were several feet tall.

    The plantation also included some wooden outbuildings, presumably for use by people caring for the plants.

    The Defense Department said soldiers made the latest discovery during a patrol Tuesday but didn’t specify exactly where the fields were found. The department said it would take journalists to view the find.

    Troops usually destroy such fields by cutting down the plants and burning them.
    While it’s unknown how much of Mexican drug cartels’ income comes from marijuana, recent discoveries suggest it remains a large-scale trade.

    In November, U.S. and Mexican investigators found two long, sophisticated tunnels under the border between Baja California and California, along with more than 40 tons of marijuana in and around the tunnels.

    The tunnels ran around 2,000 feet from Mexico to San Diego and were equipped with lighting, ventilation and a rail system for drugs to be carried on a small cart.

    U.S. officials say they believe the tunnels were the work of the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

    It was unclear which cartel, if any, operated the plantation found Tuesday.

    Associated Press
    The Washington post 14th July 2011


  1. jon-q
    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=21501&stc=1&d=1310764314[/imgl] 58 Held in Mexico's Biggest Marijuana Farm Bust

    Farm workers fled the camp dinner table when Mexican soldiers on routine patrol turned up at their lush, mesh-covered oasis stretching across the harsh Baja California desert.

    Two men were caught in the camp and 56 others were rounded up in the area around what the Mexican government calls the biggest marijuana plantation ever found in the country.

    Officials on Friday showed reporters the sophisticated operation, which the army says popped up in less than four months.

    Army officers said the vast farm just 1½ miles (2.5 kilometers) from the main federal highway in Baja California state appeared to be the work of the Sinaloa cartel. The same gang was tied to Mexico's largest bust of marijuana packaged for sale last fall and sophisticated underground border tunnels discovered in November, both also in Baja California.

    No one has been charged in the raid on the huge pot farm late Tuesday. The suspected workers are still being questioned.

    Two of the men said they were from Sinaloa state, headquarters of the Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted fugitive. The farm was in remote territory of the Baja peninsula, 280 miles (450 kilometers) south of Tijuana, that is believed to be controlled by Guzman's cartel.

    "There are indications that these are zones of the Sinaloa cartel," said infantry Maj. Bernardo Rafael Sanchez, spokesman for the army's second region, which covers the border states of Baja California and Sonora.

    Some areas of the more than half-mile-square (kilometer-square) marijuana farm resembled a nursery, with small plants. Other parts were like mature corn fields with neat rows of forest green plants rising more than six feet to a protective mesh shielding the expanse of plants. From the air, it looks like a giant square of asphalt.

    Authorities believe as many as 120 men worked the farm, living in four rudimentary, plywood buildings, including a large bunkhouse with long sleeping platforms for up to 60 people, a living room and the kitchen.

    Beans, cheese and salsa sat on the dinner table nearly three days after the raid, along with CDs of Norteno music. Women's lingerie and platform heels were found in one of the smaller bedrooms. Army officials said women did not appear to have worked in the fields and may have been there for "entertainment."

    The army also found prepaid telephone cards and communications antennas.
    Marijuana plantations this large and sophisticate are rare in Mexico, especially in Baja California, army Brig. Gen. Gilberto Landeros said.

    Pot cultivation is much more common in the Sierra Madre mountain range in northern Sonora, Durango and Sinaloa states.

    Federal authorities said the Baja pot farm was nearly double the size of an operation found in Sinaloa in 2007 and four times the size of the "Bufalo" farm discovered in the border state of Chihuahua in 1984. Estimates of the size of the Bufalo plantation vary widely.

    The army said that troops patrol this area of arid bushland and cactus every three to four months and that the plantation was not here just a few months ago. The operators used wells for water, and tiny irrigation hoses fed every plant. There were also discarded boxes of the herbicide Gramoxone.

    "At first they thought it must have been a vegetable farm," Landeros said of the soldiers who walked onto the ranch.

    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=21502&stc=1&d=1310764314[/imgr] Army Gen. Alfonso Duarte said traffickers could have harvested about 120 tons of marijuana from the plantation, worth about 1.8 billion pesos ($160 million).
    Troops have begun destroying the operation by burning the marijuana plants. Landeros said it would take a week.

    Last October, Mexican authorities made their largest-ever seizure of marijuana packaged for sale, a record 148 tons (134 metric tons) found in a number of tractor trailers and houses in Tijuana, which is across the border from San Diego.

    In November in the same region, U.S. and Mexican investigators found sophisticated tunnels that ran about 2,000 feet from Mexico into California and were equipped with lighting, ventilation and a rail system for drugs to be carried on a small cart.

    While the Arellano Felix or Tijuana cartel long dominated the drug trade in Baja California, the cartel has been greatly weakened by government hits on its leadership, and authorities say there are signs that the Sinaloa cartel now also operates in the area.

    Drug violence continued around Mexico on Friday as police said they found three bodies with heads and two severed heads without bodies on the highway between the resorts of Acapulco and Zihuatanejo in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero.

    Another decapitated body was found in Acapulco, along with the man's head and a hand-lettered message of the kind frequently left by drug cartels to threaten rival gangs.

    In the western state of Jalisco, federal police reported they had arrested Martin Arzola, who is allegedly one of the leaders of a new cartel, The New Generation, that sprang up after top-level Sinaloa cartel leader Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel was killed in a battle with soldiers during a raid on his mansion in July 2010.
    Arzola was allegedly in charge of drug distribution in the state capital, Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.

    The New Generation is reportedly fighting a group called The Resistance for control of the area. The Resistance was formed by former members of the Milenio, Gulf and La Familia cartels.

    ABC News 15th July 2011
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=21547&stc=1&d=1310842434[/IMGL]Are We Sure This Is Mexico's Largest Marijuana Farm?

    Google "Mexico" and "marijuana" this morning and you'll find many headlines informing you that Mexican soldiers have discovered the country's "biggest" or "largest" marijuana plantation ever in the remote Baja California desert, across the border from San Diego. But look a little closer and you'll see other news outlets hedging; AFP puts 'largest' in quotes, for instance, while The Wall Street Journal goes with the phrase 'large marijuana farm.' Why the discrepancy?

    It's rather complicated. The Mexican army says the 300-acre plantation, which can produce 120 tons of pot worth an estimated $160 million, is the largest in Mexican history and four times the size of the previous record-holder, the "El Bufalo" ranch in northern Chihuahua state that authorities discovered in 1984, according to the AP (AFP, quoting the military, identifies the previous record-holder as an 158-acre farm in the state of Sinaloa uncovered in 2007.) Experts like Alberto Islas, however, are casting doubt on the military's claims, arguing that the Bufalo farm was much bigger than the Baja field. Mexican press reports claim El Bufalo was 1,344 acres and contained anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 tons of marijuana worth somewhere between $3.2 billion and $8 billion in today's prices, The Journal notes. Islas tells the paper that the Mexican army could be exaggerating the size of yesterday's bust to boost morale as Mexican's violent drug war drags on. A Mexican official, meanwhile, explains that the Bufalo plantation was a series of 13 different fields and the Baja plantation was bigger than any individual Bufalo field. Ah, the difficulty in measuring marijuana plantations.

    [imgr="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=21545&stc=1&d=1310842322[/imgr]The plantation, pictured in the aerial shot above, was hidden by a black screen and tomato stalks and included a "sophisticated system of piped-in irrigation to support the plants," the tallest of which were nearly eight feet, according to the AP. CNN gives us a sense of the farm's proportions, noting that the field is 168 times larger than the soccer field in Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. Mexico, the world's biggest producer of marijuana, has detained several people in connection with the bust and will destroy the Baja plantation by burning the pot plants. In this Reuters photo, a helicopter flies over the vast fields:

    And here, in case you're interested, are the plantation's bathrooms:

    JULY 15, 2011

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