WASHINGTON—Cartels are setting up armed camps in California forests and growing massive crops of marijuana, according to Stacey Montgomery, District Attorney of Lassen County, California.
“They are armed. They’re setting up camps, and they’re growing mass amounts of marijuana on our public lands,” Montgomery told the president during a roundtable at the White House on May 17.
“A large portion of these people that are coming in to do this are illegal immigrants.”
Lassen County is a heavily forested area situated in northeastern California, with a population of around 31,000.
“Because of the legalization of marijuana in California, now we’re seeing those same individuals working with other criminal groups—the Asian groups, the Russian groups, the motorcycle groups—all kinds of organized crime.”
Montgomery said the groups are decimating the environment and causing generational damage.
“They are killing wildlife. They’re diverting streams. The damage that they’re causing, both to the economy and to our public lands, is going to be generational,” she said.
She blames both the legalization of marijuana and the state’s sanctuary policies that shield illegal immigrants, including many convicted criminals, from federal immigration authorities.
“The legalization made it worse,” she said. “I’ve been appalled, as a district attorney, someone who’s sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state, that we have fallen so far in California.”
She said her office works with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which files charges and does as much as it can, but the impact is limited.
“These people are coming into our forests, they’re endangering our citizens,” she said. “There’s not a thing we can do.”
She said California’s sanctuary laws are frustrating law enforcement and her office.
“We are prosecuting an illegal immigrant right now who has been deported several times and has had a violent criminal history, who hit and killed a 16-year-old kid—a boy in our community—and fled the scene. So his case is pending right now. After I brought the suit, I was promptly served with a gag order to prevent me from talking about the case,” she said.
“In the last four years, I have seen California become a disaster. It’s been tragic to watch my state pass laws that basically have sent our communities into a very dangerous place.”