Authorities Crack Down on Deadly Pot Grow Pesticide

Mexican drug cartels are employing a toxic pesticide for illegal marijuana grows on public land that could spell ecological disaster for California. Now, state and federal officials have pledged millions of dollars and countless man hours to weed them out.

The culprit is Carbofuran, a highly toxic substance which is illegal in California. Just a quarter teaspoon can kill you.

Scott said the pesticide is being funneled into California’s forests by Mexican drug cartels, noting that all of the recovered carbofuran bottles were labeled in Spanish.

Mourad Gabriel, executive director of Integral Ecology Research Center, said use of the pesticide in California has exploded over the last decade. His group found traces of the pesticide at 78 percent of surveyed sites in 2017, up from 12 percent in 2012.

Researchers found the outlawed chemical in bottles, soil, marijuana plants, water and even poisoned wildlife. Gabriel called the pesticide use a “uniform, systematic approach.”

Similar to the ecological damage of California’s Gold Rush which poisoned rivers and streams, Gabriel said the widespread use of pesticides on outdoor pot grows will have certain environmental aftershocks.

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott made clear that illegal grows, not licensed farms, are the target here.

"The reality of the situation is there is so much black market marijuana in California that we could use all of our resources going after just the black market and never get there,” said Scott.

Read more at KCRA and Courthouse News Service.