Daily Caller field reporter Jorge Ventura has released "Cartelville, USA," an investigative documentary on Mexican drug cartels in Southern California that are starting up illegal marijuana operations, taking over small towns, stealing water from local communities in the targeted areas, and threatening working-class Americans.
Crime has spiked since the operations have exploded in Los Angeles County, which are connected to human trafficking as the cartels smuggle migrants across America's southern border with Mexico to work the operations.
Small towns in Southern California have been overrun by gang activity, causing local residents to flee. The Daily Caller's investigative team led by Ventura went in the trenches to find out how dangerous the cartels are and examine the urgent threat that can be felt in one part of America more than ever before.
The 36-minute documentary released Thursday illustrates how innocent citizens are caught in the crossfire because they're too close to the investment.
One individual was killed and two others were injured in July at a cartel marijuana grow in Mariposa County, the Fresno Bee reported.
"I don't feel safe in my home. I don't feel safe leaving my home," an anonymous resident told the Daily Caller. The identities of most residents were withheld from publication over concerns for their own safety.
The well-funded criminal organizations steal water from tax-paying Californians using trucks and bring it to greenhouses to grow the crops, Ventura explained.
Black and white tarps are used to manipulate the growth seasons, Ventura said, motioning to the covering overhead. Meanwhile, surrounding communities are turned into ghost towns when the cartels either squat on property or purchase a home with large land mass in a rural area through a realtor, Ventura stated.
"This is the cartels," Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris said at a July press conference after authorities in Southern California seized more than 16 tons of marijuana worth an estimated $1.19 billion. "We are very, very close to driving down the freeway and seeing bodies hanging from the overpasses. That is what's coming."
The 10-day sting, which resulted in 22 felony arrests, 109 misdemeanor arrests, and 19 arrests, was considered the largest eradication of illegal marijuana cultivations in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. More than 200 locations were served with search warrants as well as almost 375,000 marijuana plants and 33,480 pounds of harvested marijuana were seized in the drug bust, along with 65 vehicles, 180 animals, and $28,000, CBS News reported.
Parris warned that the area may not survive if the matter remains unchecked. In a sit-down interview with the Daily Caller, the mayor said that the large-scale, multibillion-dollar organizations are run like businesses.
Ventura explained that the marijuana growers are either connected to Mexican cartels or high-level criminal organizations that also use human trafficking—smuggling migrants, indentured servants, even children—for slave labor.
"It's all about the grow, and not about people," said Sheriff Shannon D. Dicus, who was appointed Sheriff-Coroner of San Bernardino County.
At one particular grow that was investigated by the Daily Caller team, Ventura found five undocumented Chinese nationals working who don't speak English and most likely were trafficked into the United States.
The cartels bring the drugs from across the southern border and distribute inside the United States through various channels. The product itself is now being grown on American soil out in the open, Ventura told Daily Caller viewers.
Ventura has been covering the ongoing border crisis for the past several months in South Texas. Ventura told The Post Millennial that he was inspired to do an investigative documentary on the issue when he met Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the 25th congressional district in southern California.
Garcia told Ventura that he is increasingly focused on the border due to the Mexican cartels that have started up illegal marijuana-growing operations in communities like Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, where Ventura grew up.
"I really wanted to shine a light on what was happening in my hometown," Ventura said. "I felt that Americans living in these towns needed a voice on this story."
Ventura said that the way the Biden administration can deal with the cartel operations is to be "tough on the border." If President Joe Biden tightens immigration enforcement at the United States-Mexico border, the cartels would lose the labor needed to work the marijuana grows, Ventura explained.
The investigative journalist added that California Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to address the issue as well by revisiting Proposition "Prop" 64, known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized cannabis statewide but downgraded illegal cultivation from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Ventura said that the Democrat governor should enforce tougher penalties in illegal cultivation, especially in California's unincorporated areas.
Now, "risk versus reward" is no longer a deterring factor for drug cartels.
The yield on even the smaller grows is profitable compared to the consequences: a $500 fine, a citation, a minor charge that's considered a slap on the wrist.
In addition, the left-wing "Defund the Police" movement has emboldened drug cartels and like offenders, because they're not threatened by dismantled law enforcement with limited resources and a reduced workforce.
The full "Cartelville, USA" documentary is available on CARTELDOC.COM.
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