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Friday, March 21, 2014

Attorney General Kamala Harris: Innovation Means California Is Country's Meth Capital

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM

click to enlarge Tweakers' delight
  • Tweakers' delight

If Walter White was real, he'd be a rank amateur playing in methamphetamine's minor leagues.

The real kings of crystal are right here in California, where 70 percent of the meth consumed in the United States enters the country from Mexico, according to the California Attorney General's Office.

These are tech-fueled boom times in California, but as the state's economy soars, so do the fortunes of drug-trafficking cartels: Mexican, Asian and all other stripes, AG Kamala Harris says in a major report on drug-trafficking gang activity released this week.

Among her findings: Pp to $40 billion in criminal cash is laundered through California businesses. There are 305 cartel-like organizations in the state, compared with 17 police task forces assigned to root them out, and the state's flush economy and cutting-edge technology make it a prime target for cartel activity.

Yes, tech gets to be the scapegoat for methamphetamine as well as gentrification. But perhaps we can also thank gentrification for the thousands of gang members in the East Bay and far fewer here in the city.

Harris gives us a lot to chew on in the 121-page report, which covers everything from marijuana production and flow, to quantification of gang activity and a disturbing rise in human-trafficking arrests.

Little of it is what you would call "good news."

If you were curious which cartel runs California, wonder no more: the Sinaloa cartel -- whose Forbes billionaire list-worthy jefe, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was arrested last month -- is top drug dog in the state.

Sinaloa cartel activity is ongoing in the Bay Area, in Santa Cruz, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties, the report says. Like any other business with a wholesale-retail chain of sale, the cartels strike deals with local gangs like MS-13 for distribution and protection.

Business appears to be good: Gang membership jumped 40 percent between 2009 and 2011, with 186,000 gang members and about 5,000 gangs in the state.

There are tens of thousands of "identified" gang members in the East Bay, the report says. There are far fewer in San Francisco, but nobody has identified why that is. So let's just blame it on tech.

Increasingly, gang members want to move meth more than any drug. In 2013, 6,200 kilograms of crystal party fuel was seized at the border, a three-fold increase since 2009.

What to do about all this? Spend more money on the Drug War, of course. Harris recommends more state and federal funding to pay for even more police task forces, including one that would specifically work on halting drug shipments via panga boats, which have been seen as far north as Santa Cruz County.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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