Mexican Pot Lords See Green in Strapped Calif. Parks

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2009 1:41 PM CDT
This undated handout photo shows Citrus State Historic Park, east of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Mexican drug traffickers are having a banner year growing pot in California’s plentiful—and, due to the state budget crisis, woefully understaffed—parkland, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Authorities think California might see a record-breaking, multi-billion dollar crop. “Our whole state is overrun,” said a spokeswoman for California’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. “It’s an epidemic.”

Authorities have already seized more than 1 million marijuana plants, and the growing season isn’t half over. Though the patches are so large they’re often visible by helicopter, the state has 31 million acres of forest. When authorities do find crops, it does little good; the cartels can afford to lose a few, and don’t mind if low-level illegal immigrant workers caring for the plants get pinched.