The Drug War That Threatens To Erupt

The Drug War That Threatens To Erupt
Posted by CN Staff on April 03, 2005 at 18:50:40 PT
By Julian Borger in Blaine, The Guardian 
Source: Guardian Unlimited UK
Canada -- It is a sunny spring day; the water is sparkling, dotted with the white sails of jauntily leaning yachts and the green islands that speckle the US-Canada border. Welcome to the frontline of a vicious multibillion-dollar drug war. A high-powered grey patrol boat with a three-man crew from the US department of homeland security buzzes across this Pacific idyll like a frenetic killjoy, boarding sailboats, disrupting jolly outings on family motor launches and even accosting tiny sea kayaks.
In theory, the crew's primary task is to stop terrorists infiltrating the US. Ever since Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian militant, was caught a few miles from here in December 1999 with more than 45kg (100lb) of explosives in the boot of his car, border patrols have been braced for the next episode. One of the crew wears a radiation detector at all times. Since then, however, the homeland security patrol has been finding mainly marijuana on the boats they search - industrial quantities of a potent strain known as BC Bud, named in honour of the Canadian province where much of it is grown, British Columbia. More than 900kg (2m lb) of BC Bud is thought to reach the US market every year. The whole industry is thought to be worth $7bn (£3.7m). The product surges into the US like water flowing off a mountain, finding its way through every crack. It is dropped by small planes or helicopters into the raspberry fields and parks of Washington state. It is walked across the mountain forests in backpacks, stashed among frozen berries and driven in articulated lorries or in the back of vans on country roads. Or it comes by sea, on a flotilla of unassuming watercraft. "See those boats. That's what BC Bud boats look like," said Kevin Anderson, one of the patrol's marine enforcement officers after boarding and searching a sailboat and a small motor cruiser, and finding nothing more menacing than an expired sailing licence. The crew have been paying special attention to kayaks since last year, when a Canadian junior Olympic champion was caught putting his skills to lucrative use plying the sea border that runs through the Strait of Georgia. His boat was weighed down with his country's finest marijuana. He was unlucky to get caught. On a fine summer's afternoon there can be 10,000 pleasure boats in the archipelago that forms the coastal borderline, and just one patrol. BC Bud is so well thought of on the west coast it has been known to trade at the same price as cocaine, more than $3,000 a pound. In fact, it is commonly bartered for cocaine and guns, which travel in the opposite direction, north into Canada, making it a less safe and predictable place - and more like America - every day. Drive-by killings are on the rise in the Vancouver area, as are house invasions, by which one gang seeks to take over another's marijuana crop without the bother of grow lights and hydroponic cultivation. About a month ago four officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot dead when they stumbled on a BC Bud-growing operation - the most Mounties lost in one day since the middle of the 19th century. The killings shocked Canada, and have challenged the country's generally tolerant attitude towards drug offences. "It showed Canadians that the people who have grow-ops [growing operations] aren't all nice guys with mom-and-pop operations," said Inspector Paul Nadeau, the head of the force's coordinated marijuana enforcement team in British Columbia. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Every single criminal organisation in the region is involved." It is a big pie everyone seems to want a slice of. A lot of the smugglers caught on the border are from ethnic Indian and Pakistani gangs in Canada. Many of the 50,000 grow-ops thought to be hidden across British Columbia are run by Vietnamese clans. But police on both sides of the border say some of the biggest organisations coordinating the trade are chapters of the Canadian Hell's Angels. Joseph Giuliano, the deputy chief patrol agent at the Blaine border post, has been watching them evolve from gangs to corporations. "They mostly farm out the dirty work," he said. "They have become administrators, bureaucrats, executives. The old days of them driving a Harley in a leather jacket are gone. Now they wear a three-piece suit and drive a Mercedes." As the organisations behind BC Bud smuggling have grown larger, their operations have become more sophisticated, and the battle of wits at the border has become a technological race. Mr Giuliano's patrols put sensors down along the border which send signals to a central command post in Blaine, generating a computerised voice alert announcing where there is movement and in what direction. Agents can then train one of 32 cameras on the area to determine whether a smuggler is making a crossing or a cow has gone astray. The smugglers have equipped themselves with night-vision goggles and metal detectors in an attempt to locate the sensors under the cover of darkness. They also conduct surveillance operations watching the border patrols and testing their reaction times to the sensors, and intercepting radio messages with computerised scanners. "They even have their own scientific sorts working on the capabilities of our gamma ray machines at the border," Mr Giuliano said. "They're testing what has similar density as BC Bud so that it's invisible." Apparently, frozen raspberries [this is one of the world's premier raspberry regions] come pretty close." The cat and mouse game can also be as low-tech as a smuggler in a pick-up truck timing a run across the 45cm (18in) ditch that marks much of the land border in the north-west. Smugglers will swerve off the road over the ditch and gun their cars through rows of raspberry canes. Until now, the casualties in this contest have been low but the deaths of the four Mounties have strained nerves. The stakes are getting higher and there are more guns involved. Barbara Kremzner, a border patrol agent who drives around the Blaine area alone trying to stop cars getting across, said: "You never know what it's going to be. It gets hairy." "We have a big problem on our hands," said Leigh Winchell, the special agent in charge of immigration and customs enforcement in Seattle. "Whenever that much money is involved, crime-related money, the violence follows. "Huge quantities of cocaine and firearms and bulk cash are going north. The Canadians are dealing with a murder rate that is growing exponentially. I can't help but believe that if the violence continues to grow there, it will grow here." Battle of BC BudThe choice of British Columbia, Canada, for the cultivation of high-potency BC Bud is due in large part to its location. Sharing the world's longest undefended border with one of the world's largest drug markets - the US - Canada in general and British Columbia in particular is a logical haven for traffickers of cannabis. Sophisticated cultivation techniques are used in British Columbia to maximise production. The plants are grown in large greenhouses where temperature, light and nutrients are carefully controlled, enabling growers to produce up to six crops a year. Drugs cultivated in the western Canadian state are smuggled to Seattle and Portland, from where they can be distributed easily to the US's main marijuana markets, mainly using the highways which link large cities along the west coast from Canada to Mexico. The US's office of national drug control policy estimates that between 75% and 85% of cannabis grown in British Columbia is exported to the US, where drug dealers can fetch higher prices than in Canada. The scale of illegal activity along the 4,000-mile border has prompted a big increase in US funding for stricter customs searches and more border patrols. Some traffickers have reacted by seeking safer markets in eastern Canada. There is some debate over the relative potency of BC Bud, harvested from female plants. American enforcement agencies claim the drug contains between 15% and 25% of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - twice as strong as varieties from the US and up to six times stronger than cannabis from Colombia and Mexico. But campaigners accuse the authorities of stoking up panic about the drug and say the reality is closer to between 5% and 8%. Note: US/Canada border patrols struggle to stop smuggling of marijuana and guns.Complete Title: Behind The Idyll, The Drug War That Threatens To Erupt Source: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Julian Borger in Blaine, The Guardian Published: Monday, April 4, 2005Copyright: 2005 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters News Canadian Links Canada Archives
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on April 04, 2005 at 21:26:03 PT
I wanted to make sure I thanked you for your thoughts on this article. The BC Bud issue sure seems blown out of proportion to me.
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Comment #17 posted by ngeo on April 04, 2005 at 12:43:26 PT:
BC Bud
I think it's the same as any other bud. But the BC 'industry' originated with draft dodgers from Berkeley, and BC has a history of militant labor. So there is a point behind the propaganda point: Big Brother has his eye on BC. It puts pressure on the BC government and on the Canadian government. There has already been 'intervention' in BC when the provincial government got uppity - one incident I believe involved the premier trying to kick the Americans out of a torpedo testing range they had on the coast, which ended with the premier getting in big trouble and the Canadian federal government quickly caving in. Texas state troopers have 'assisted' the RCMP doing highway spot checks in the interior. I believe a lot of Asian heroin also gets imported through Vancouver (and just who is in charge of that?). 
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Comment #16 posted by afterburner on April 04, 2005 at 11:42:20 PT
Shame on the Guardian...
for repeating these outworn prohibitionist "talking points."The comments here are much more interesting and informative than the so-called article.Hi-de-ho!
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on April 04, 2005 at 09:16:29 PT
goneposthole I Sure Agree!
Don't use drugs that you must so 'no' to. Drugs like Vioxx and Prozac are the kind to say 'no' to. Get rid of those drugs.
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Comment #14 posted by goneposthole on April 04, 2005 at 08:55:28 PT
more bc bud?
that's ok, the border is 5530 miles long. So what? Now the stupid US gov will have to patrol it for a few hundred tons of cannabis that is going to make it through the border anyway. Looks like a few in the military will help it along if they get involved. There is a story out there about some US military personnel trafficking cocaine. It won't be the first time or the last time, either. If the US gov had a lick of sense, they would pull all of the stops and legalize cannabis. They don't though, so they'll have to keep spending money like it grows on trees and make everybody suffer, too!As the US gov keeps trying to get a hold of drug traffickers, the more there will be. The northern wilds of Montana would be a good place to drop of a couple of more tons of bc bud. The more the merrier.Don't use drugs that you must so 'no' to. Drugs like Vioxx and Prozac are the kind to say 'no' to. Get rid of those drugs.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on April 04, 2005 at 08:24:04 PT
Seed Germination
I've been thinking about how long it takes for a seed of a thought to me, anyway.It's probably been a year or more since there were posts here to the effect that people who had tried BC Bud couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, since, though good, they didn't think it any more remarkable than good bud they had tried from here and other places. That little "seed" planted in my mind took that long to germinate into the realization that it was a big "I need more of your money! It's an emergency!" ploy by the enforcers.It's so irritating how our government plays us all for fools to make us more willing to give up more of our hard earned income. The drug "plague" has likely been their most lucrative and renewable endeavor.God help us. 
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Comment #12 posted by potpal on April 04, 2005 at 08:03:17 PT
War mongers
Report: Colombia drug war failing 
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on April 04, 2005 at 06:53:02 PT
BC Bud
Bud Laden! Lol!
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Comment #10 posted by mayan on April 04, 2005 at 05:29:44 PT
What I meant...
ILLEGAL immigrants, that is.
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Comment #9 posted by mayan on April 04, 2005 at 05:00:47 PT
Bud Laden
Hope, we have to stop the dreaded "Bud Laden". Yes, Osama Bud Laden is a threat to freedom and must be defeated at all costs. He is a grave threat to not only our national security but the stability of the entire world.The fact that citizens have to take it upon themselves to patrol the southern border to keep immigrants out is pretty telling. At the northern border the feds are more concerned about cannabis than terrorists. That also speaks volumes. The government knows very well that ending prohibition would all but eliminate the black market and most of the problems spawned from said prohibition. They have to demonize someone or something to create and maintain the police state. The police state and our current wars on both drugs and terrorism would not be possible were it not for Bin & Bud Laden. They are both creations of U.S. policy.Minutemen Report Stops 18 Illegals At Border:
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Comment #8 posted by potpal on April 04, 2005 at 04:45:23 PT
hope / bc biz
Interesting thoughts. And something the antis really don't want is the spread of grow ops, likely everywhere already anyway, been going on for decades, to/in the usa, especially red states. For one it shows the futility of prohibition again and from a different perspective.  Therefore, they want to keep the spot light on BC/Canada, those hippies up there, eh. Fight the war on foreign soil. Plays good. Controlled conflict is their pursuit, not the end of conflict. Here a war, there a war.Grow.
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Comment #7 posted by OverwhelmSam on April 04, 2005 at 04:00:29 PT
The Perpetuation of Mass Paranoia
I guess the newspapers let you print any lie these days. The RCMP officers were killed be an unstable guy who just happened to have a few plants on his property. Not even enough weed to consider it a grow op. The police decided to turn it into a grow op raid to fuel mass hysteria about marijuana because they are prejudice against marijuana users. When will the bigotry and discrimination end?Overwhelm Uncle Sam
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on April 03, 2005 at 22:15:26 PT
Something I heard today
Does anyone know anything about Henry Waxman wanting to legalize marijuana? I heard part of a radio talk show today and someone was calling in and mentioned that Henry Waxman wanted to legalize marijuana. They were carrying on about something to the effect that, "Why is he so worried about steroids when he's wanting to legalize marijuana?"Were they just spouting nonesense or has anyone heard anything about that?
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on April 03, 2005 at 20:23:33 PT
I've wondered very similar things.
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Comment #4 posted by JustGetnBy on April 03, 2005 at 20:23:31 PT
Mr Borger of Blaine
must live in a cave with a continuois loop recording of ONDCP propaganda playing full volume 24/7.  How else on earth could you possibly explain that diatribe of lies, untruths, half-truths,and plain old Bull S# t.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on April 03, 2005 at 20:14:03 PT
Something about this BC Bud business...
It's finally dawned on me...and I mean no offense at all to Canadian growers. I'm sure Canadian growers are skilled, but I can't imagine that it's something genetic that only Canadians are blessed with and British Columbians in particular. This BC Bud uproar is a creation of the American Drug government. It's all something the police have made up, isn't it? They started these stories several years ago to cause border problems and hysteria and suck more money out of us is what I suspect it's about. "Oh dear! It's BC Bud! Itís monstrous! Itís dangerous! Youíve never seen anything like it! We need more money! It's a plague! It's an epidemic! It's unheard of! We never had anything like this happen before! We have to do something! Give us more money! We have to stop the plague! Give us more money!"Why would quality plants, from quality seed or clones and grown by knowledgeable people, with quality nutrients, and good grow lights and care be any more powerful and awesome if it were grown in BC than if it were grown in North Dakota? Weíre not talking about some special light that hits the ground only in BC. Weíre talking about indoor growing. Government made it up and started and spread the rumors to further reefer madness. The growers in BC didnít mind and we have another ďplagueĒ on our hands that we need to spend lots of money fighting and hire more officers for and agents and buy more equipment to combat. That is whatís going on, isnít it? It has to be.Dang! I feel their sneaky, shifty, lying, fear mongering, greedy thieving hands lifting the money right out of my paycheck!
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on April 03, 2005 at 19:52:42 PT
Prohibition Greater Evil
CN MB: PUB LTE: Prohibition Greater EvilURL:
Newshawk: CMAP
 Votes: 0
Pubdate: Sun, 03 Apr 2005
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Canoe Limited Partnership
Contact: editor
Author: Clifford Schaffer
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor.
Referenced: GREATER EVIL Rev. Harry Lehotsky ( The pros and cons of legalizing drugs, March 27 ) is so misinformed that he is just funny -- or he would be if the lawmakers weren't just as ill-informed. The only people I have ever heard say that legalization will solve all the problems of drugs are prohibitionists trying to set up a straw man argument. Legalization would not eliminate all the problems, just as it didn't eliminate all the problems of alcohol. But it did greatly reduce the problems of Prohibition. Alcohol Prohibition went into effect in the U.S. in 1920. It was passed with a campaign of "Save the Children from Alcohol" and the prohibition laws were a response to a real social problem with alcohol. Within five years, homicide rates skyrocketed. Arrests for public drunkenness were 30% above the pre-Prohibition records. Home breweries -- just like today's grow-ops -- were rampant. In some cases whole neighbourhoods went in on a cooperative basis to make booze. Police corruption was so rampant that they shipped corrupt cops off to prison literally by the trainload. Organized crime thrived. Even worse was the effect on children. Teen admissions to hospitals for alcohol problems soared. Teen arrests for public drunkenness set new records. Schools had to cancel dances because so many kids showed up drunk. The average age at which people started drinking dropped three years in the first five years of prohibition. Kids became involved in the bootlegging trade. Some early supporters of prohibition turned against it because they said Prohibition made it easier than ever for their kids to get alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1933 with a campaign of "Save the Children from Prohibition." 
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on April 03, 2005 at 19:35:59 PT
cheap lie-- why attempt to create fear in hearts
About a month ago four officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot dead when they stumbled on a BC Bud-growing operation
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