Marijuana: Is Colorado pot so good that it's making Mexican cartels want to take over?

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Last week, Hector Diaz was formally charged by federal prosecutors with using more than $500,000 in Colombian cash to invest in the Colorado marijuana industry.

Others indicted along with Diaz insist that none of the targeted transactions had any connection with foreign drug gangs. But a longtime investigator says he's been hearing plenty about Mexican cartels attempting to force their way into the Colorado biz, partly due to the much higher quality of pot grown and sold here.

"From what we're hearing, Colorado marijuana is a lot more desirable than the Mexican marijuana," says Tom Gormon, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area organization, RMHIDTA has sponsored studies about the dangers of home cannabis grows and the negative impacts of the state's pot experiment, among other things. "So for the cartels to compete, they have to upgrade their marijuana, get out of the business or try to get involved in the business in Colorado."

Of these three options, the first would be time-consuming and the second is improbable -- but Gorman thinks the third is a very real possibility.

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Hector Diaz, who's also facing weapons-related charges.
"Our concern -- and we've had some indication of this -- is that the Mexican cartels would see this as a very lucrative business," he notes.

How would Mexican cartels go about gaining a foothold in Colorado? "One of their primary moneymaking opportunities besides drug dealing is extortion," Gorman points out, referencing a cartel attack on a casino in Monterrey, Mexico circa 2011 in which 52 people were killed. "That was not a dope deal: That was an extortion deal. They were extorting money and apparently the casino didn't want to pay -- but they paid a price for that in the end."

He sees similar dynamics at play in Colorado.

"If you're a cartel member and you see ways to make money in a trade you're used to, it's a perfect storm," he allows. "Say you're a retail cultivator or a store owner. Someone from a cartel comes in and shows you a picture of your kids going to school -- and they tell you, 'I want 40 percent of your profits or you're not going to see your kids anymore.'

Continue for more of our interview with Tom Gorman about possible Mexican drug cartels forcing their way into the Colorado marijuana business.


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77 comments
Wendy Dennie
Wendy Dennie

Does Westword ever post anything NOT related to negative pot stories? The stories you consider news worthy are old, stale and worse than dirt weed

Frank N Beans
Frank N Beans

Just like the movie "Savages". Shit is about to go DOWN.

publius.ceasar
publius.ceasar

Here's the thing, the Mexican cartels have been importing US strains for over 20 years. The true landrace strains such as Oxacan, Michoacan, Durango Gold and Alcapulco Gold are long since lost in Mexico. They grow US strains, badly and outdoors. Those landrace strains are largely lost.

When they get up to speed on modern indoor growing techniques, organic gardening, pesticide-free, hand-trimmed gourmet grade weed, then we'll have something to worry about.

Anti053
Anti053

Start any of that kidnapping bullshit around here and you'll all get killed, everybody has assault rifles here, I dare the cartel to try something.

Stephanie Bloom Parker
Stephanie Bloom Parker

See how legalizing hurts the cartels? So why not legalize all drugs and treat users as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Then all drug cartels can piss off.

Jen Stretch
Jen Stretch

Well it's up to us to keep it out of their hands

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

Duh. The cartels aren't going to let Colorado cut them out of the action. Only a matter of time.

Robin Medina
Robin Medina

Nope I don't think so. You fucked up your own country you ain't fuckin up my state. Your Cartels aren't welcome here. Try and take over and "Make My Day" here in Colorado.

herbgrinder68
herbgrinder68

Want to eliminate the Black Market ??Allow adults to grow what they want,license and regulate all sales.

J Trinity Guerra
J Trinity Guerra

JAJAJA Expresident of México VICENTE FOX, its the owner of the 50% or more, of the colorado marihuana JAJAJAJ

Desarae Nicole Buchanan
Desarae Nicole Buchanan

If we legalize federally we will help this issue because there will be too many competitors. This is ridiculous.

Quincy Johnson
Quincy Johnson

You're an idiot if you really think cartels are taking over rec weed.....A damn idiot

Justin Kershman
Justin Kershman

I'm sure there's more people here in Colorado with a weapon than there are cartel members...I'm sure they will try, but it ain't gonna be like trying to take over somebody's "territory" like in their dope game! Good luck...they'll need it!

Chaske Palfy
Chaske Palfy

Cartels or corporations what's the difference

Christopher Black
Christopher Black

dude theyr pushin tar coke and shards,their doin just fine,i wouldnt be surprised if their was a surplus of mexi-brick south of mason dixon line/hard drugs bein pushed harder elsewhere...

Monkey
Monkey

What a joke. Cartels switched to Meth a long time ago, when the U.S. started regulating Sudafed, and the other chemicals used to make it. Meth isn't made by tweakers in a trailer park anymore, it's made in Mexico. When we made it harder to manufacture in the States, Mexico took over, and thanked the U.S. government for helping them monopolize the market. Our Cocaine comes from Columbia, our Heroine comes from Afghanistan, our Meth comes from Mexico, but our weed has come from Humboldt ever since Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, Thai Stick, and Mexican Orange stopped being imported. Cartels don't care about weed anymore, our regulations have made other drugs way more profitable for them. 

The only ones extorting money from commercial weed growers/sellers in Colorado is our own local government, Mexican Cartels are busy counting Meth money. Occasionally, Mexicans will send a truck full of weed through the boarder just so it will get busted, drawing the attention of all the idiot agents, and allowing the truck full of Meth, 3 cars behind, to pass through un-detected. If cartels wanted to extort money from Colorado businesses, wouldn't they start with more profitable businesses, like Taco Bell? 


Jayson Hunter
Jayson Hunter

Blah blah blah more fear mongering please give it a rest!

Jay Polo
Jay Polo

Or could some decide to move to Colorado and become legitimate business men...remember at one time alcohol was illegal business

Jason Wagner
Jason Wagner

Yup, if it's even a real issue and not just another propaganda scare tactic.

Jeremy Albright
Jeremy Albright

That's what I was thinking. That doesn't necessarily make this a marijuana issue. It's more of an extortion issue.

A Chris Heismann
A Chris Heismann

The drug cartels are going to use violence and extortion to try and control the business whether it is legal or not. But with pot being legal, at least the legitimate businesses don't have to be afraid to go to the authorities for help. The fastest way to get the drug cartels out of the US pot industry would be nationwide legalization. That would free up Law Enforcement resources to go after the cartels that would use violence. Study Prohibition and its repeal for some insight into how banning something draws crime, and how legalizing it makes fighting that crime easier.

David Barton
David Barton

If anything, Mr. Gorman is inadvertently making the case FOR legalization. The demand has always been there. Does he think that Mexican cartels hadn't heard of stronger cannabis before January 1? At least the state is involved now. But to suggest everyone was somehow safer when all business was conducted on the Black Market is foolish and dangerous. Mr. Gorman might as well put on his pom-poms and host a DEA fundraiser. It's not about public safety, it's all about lost revenue to law enforcement officials like him....

Alfredo Abad Jr.
Alfredo Abad Jr.

If the VIP raids taught us anything then they already have.

Ehron Moats
Ehron Moats

Mexican Cartels = Greedy Fuckers. Here in Colorado I jave seen first hand.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Except the movie Savages had Blake Lively, so it's not EXACTLY like it.  

WillieStortz
WillieStortz

Darn idiots believing in documented facts. Unbelievable.

WillieStortz
WillieStortz

@Monkey It take a truly ignorant person to ignore facts when they get in the way of their baseless arguement.


With all the meth, coke and heroin the Mexican drug cartels sell they still make 70% of their money from marijuana, it's just a simple fact,

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  "our Heroine comes from Afghanistan"


Wasn't Joan of Arc French?



herbgrinder68
herbgrinder68

Really?,How many people do you know who use Mexican product ??

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

A lot of other readers would like to see evidence of this happening, too, Jason. Thanks for the post.

herbgrinder68
herbgrinder68

I've been saying this for years,"the only thing that makes a common plant valuable enough to create violent drug cartels and corrupt government is the governments prohibition of it.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thoughtful post, A Chris. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting post, David. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... Geography is your friend ... learn some.

Monkey
Monkey

@WillieStortz

70%? Why would you think that? Is that what the Cartels claim on their tax forms? Did someone audit the Cartels? Obviously, you are the ignorant one. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey @WillieStortz  


The DEA says so ... and everybody knows how reliable, honest and accurate they are.


Of course it makes so much more sense logistically to the Mexican cartels to smuggle gigantic trunk-size bales of marginal weed that only has a 2x profit margin than to smuggle 10x that much in $$ value in powdered drugs using the same space -- meth, cocaine, heroin -- that have a 4x profit margin plus the sales advantage of physically addicted customers.


... not!



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