Mendo Board Supports Use Of Spy Agencies In Marijuana War


U.S. Forest Service
A federal drug agent prepares to destroy a marijuana crop in Northern California

​You too, Mendo? Say it ain’t so! The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has voted 3-2 to support the use of federal intelligence agencies in the war against marijuana.

The most liberal member of the board of supervisors, Green Party member Dan Hamburg, joined the most libertarian member, Supervisor John Pinches of the American Independent Party to cast the two votes against the “consent calendar” item at Tuesday’s board meeting, reports Jennifer Poole at The Willits News.

​​Both opposed the item asking the board to support California Congressman Mike Thompson’s attempts to involve federal spy agencies in the fight against illegal marijuana cultivation by so-called “international drug trafficking organizations” on public lands.

Dan Hamburg Supervisor District 5
Supervisor Dan Hamburg: Concerned about “the increasing use of federal intelligence agencies to spy on citizens”

Thompson added language to HR 1892, the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012, asking the director of national intelligence to “consult with the heads of the federal land management agencies on the appropriate actions the intelligence community can take” to assist the agencies in “identifying and protecting public lands from illegal drug grows including through the sharing of intelligence information.”
The Intelligence Authorization Act has already passed the House, and is now in the U.S. Senate.
Supervisor John McCowen pulled the item from the consent calendar, which is supposed to be reserved for “non-controversial issues” that don’t require board discussion, “and a lively discussion ensued,” Poole reports.
But in the end, the board voted 3-2 to send a letter to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein supporting Thompson’s language mandating the use of spy agencies against marijuana growers. Feinstein chairs the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, which held a hearing Wednesday on government attempts to eradicate illegal marijuana grows.
Hamburg, the Green Party member, said he was concerned about the “increasing use of federal intelligence agencies to spy on citizens.” Libertarian Pinches repeated his long-held belief that legalization of marijuana at the federal level is the best strategy to deter the violence associated with the black market cannabis industry.

County of Mendocino, California
Supervisor John Pinches: Concerned about the use of “flying overhead drones” to spy on pot crops

​Pinches got national press attention back in the mid-1990s for saying “If tomatoes were $5,000 a pound, there’d be killings and shootings in the tomato fields.”
Although the Thompson bill’s language doesn’t specifically refer to specific methods of spying, Pinches talked about “flying overhead drones” and audience members seemed convinced that the unmanned drones would be one of the main ways the government would acquire “intelligence information” about the location of pot crops.
“We are here today to explore the increasing problem of domestic marijuana cultivation, particularly on U.S. public lands,” Sen. Feinstein said in her opening remarks.
Di-Fei noted three emerging trends related to illegal cannabis grow sites: “weapons and violence, state medical marijuana laws that have complicated law enforcement efforts, and organized grows in open backyards and farmland.”
“There is an information gap as to what organizations are responsible for these grows,” Feinstein claimed. “In particular, the extent of Mexican drug trafficking organization participation in these grows still remains unclear.”
But in further discussions at the hearing, according to the Miami Herald, Feinstein blurted out, “These are Mexican nationals who are running these operations. They are armed and dangerous, and we ought to go after them.”
“Illegal immigrants were caught tending 1,437 of the 2,334 marijuana sites seized on Forest Service land in California between 2005 and 2010,” said David Ferrell, law enforcement director at the U.S. Forest Service at Wednesday’s caucus hearing.

Pan-African News Wire
Mendocino County residents are concerned that one of the spying methods used by federal intelligence agencies to locate pot fields will be unmanned spy drones like this one