Private land: New frontier in California pot wars

A little-spoken-of war is taking place behind California’s fences and property lines – trespassing marijuana growers are setting booby traps, resorting to violence and vandalism, and spoiling the land by stealing water and spraying dangerous chemicals that leach into streams.

The growers, who are usually are Mexican drug cartels, often send boys under 18 to guard the marijuana farms because if caught, they will be tried as minors. But make no mistake, they are heavily armed. Ranchers have been shot at and had property destroyed in retaliation. Law enforcement sometimes seems oddly slow and lethargic about responding, helping clean up the toxic mess left behind but doing little to track and arrest the growers. Yes, this would be seriously dangerous and is maybe beyond the capabilities of some local law enforcement (that’s not a putdown, simply the truth) but still, the opportunity for corruption is clear and obvious.

Landowner Vellutini said she doesn’t smoke marijuana but is concerned for people who do. “They don’t know what they’re smoking,”Vellutini said. “‘ve seen the stuff that’s going on them. That stuff is sprayed with so many herbicides and pesticides. It’s awful. And I don’t know what effect that’s having on a person, but it’s got to be something. It’s toxic pot.”

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