In 2016, illegal sales of marijuana in the U.S. were estimated at $46.6 billion, and black market illegal sales made up 87 percent of all weed sales. Combined sales ― both legal and illegal ― in the industry totaled $53.3 billion, which is a pretty astounding figure when you consider that in 2016 wine sales in the U.S. reached $38 billion, corn sales were $23.3 billion and wheat sales were $7.5 billion.
Marijuana is grown illegally in all 50 states, but the largest illegal trespass grows are found in California. With California being only one of six true Mediterranean climates on the globe, and with an ideal climate for growing marijuana almost year round, the state led the nation in 2016, producing at least 13.5 million pounds of marijuana ― five times more than the 2.5 million pounds it consumed.
In addition to cannabis being sanctioned for medical use throughout the state, and recreational cannabis (which became legal in 2018 throughout California), the largest amount of illegal marijuana in the state is found in clandestine trespass grows run by Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) on national forests, parks, recreation areas and wildlife refuges including state and local wildlands.
Each year, between 4,000 and 6,000 trespass growers take to the woods of California, and spend at least half the year working 24/7 cultivating and protecting their lucrative cash crop. They divert and pollute millions of gallons of pristine water while using illegal fertilizers and pesticides (some so toxic they were banned by the EPA from use in the US over a decade ago). These groups use large amounts of rat poison and over-the-counter poisonous insecticides and rodenticides. The violent groups carry firearms, knives, anti-personnel and animal boobie traps (punji pits, trip holes, snares, etc.). On the sinister side of the occult, these cartel groups also dabble in black magic and use shrines to honor Patron Saints such as Santa Muerte (Patron of Death).
However, there is an elite group of game wardens who hunt these cartels and risk their lives to keep America’s wild places free. Hidden War: How Special Operations Game Wardens Are Reclaiming America’s Wildlands From The Drug Cartels tells that story.