Mexican drug cartels are growing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of marijuana in the thick of California’s Sequoia National Forest, CNN reports. Hours on foot from the nearest road, pot gardens flourish with as many as 10,000 plants, irrigation systems created by daming mountain creeks, and their own armed guards. Pot production has intensified in the area as border control has made it harder to smuggle marijuana into the country from Mexico, says a drug enforcement agent.
In a move to step up enforcement, agents destroyed some $1 billion in plants over the past week, arrested 38 people, and nabbed 29 weapons. Unlike in the past, said one involved, “we're not just pulling the plants, we're targeting mid-level and upper-management of these organizations.” This isn't Cheech and Chong, he adds: “This is about serious criminal organizations. They're willing to kill anybody who gets in their way.”