Marijuana cash crop for Sinaloa Cartel - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Marijuana cash crop for Sinaloa Cartel

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TUCSON - Marijuana is a cash crop for the Sinaloa Cartel.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the cartel is responsible for producing 85 to 90 percent of illegal drugs coming into the United States.

News 4 Tucson got a rare look inside the largest warehouse in the county that houses seized marijuana.

Doug Coleman, special agent in charge for the DEA in Arizona, said, “We've seized over 200 tons of marijuana coming into Arizona in the last six months.”

On this day, 2,000 pounds of marijuana was seized and brought to an undisclosed location in Southern Arizona.

Erica Curry, DEA public information officer, told News 4 Tucson, “This is actually DEA’s largest facility for processing marijuana in the United States.”

The seizures range from bundles left in the desert to small packages concealed in vehicle compartments to loads catapulted or cannoned across the border.

“This actually comes as one whole unit," Curry said. "Each of these pieces here is about 65 pounds on either side and they either catapult or shoot this through a water cannon to get it across the fencing."

Right now, the warehouse is packed floor to ceiling with 250,000 pounds of marijuana. The street value in Arizona is about $125,000,000.

“The cartel spends a lot of money transporting this marijuana from the Southwest border to the East Coast, to the Midwest, and once it hits streets over there it's worth a lot more than it’s worth here in Arizona,” Curry said.

You can triple the $125,000,000 when it leaves Arizona. 

“That cartel is probably the world's most powerful criminal organization, also probably the world's most violent criminal organization,” Coleman said.

The Sinaloa Cartel has taken over the vast majority of all the drug trafficking in Mexico and all the drug distribution in the United States. 

“They pretty much control all trafficking from Texas, New Mexico border all the way to the ocean," he said. "They have just grown in power, stature, and strength.”

Besides marijuana, the DEA says the cartel is the largest producers of heroin and meth.

According to statics, marijuana seizures went up in 2016 from the year before.

  • Marijuana
    • 2016: 899,000 pounds 
    • 2015-882,000 
  • Heroin
    • 2016: 1,806 pounds
    • 2015: 1,539
  • Meth
    • 2016: 10,814 pounds  
    • 2015: 7,533

“They are pushing a lot of Marijuana across the border," Coleman said. "They make a lot of money behind that. That allows them to expand to the meth production and heroin production.”

So as long as there is a market, the Sinaloa Cartel will continue to keep pushing the drugs across the border.

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