This is a true tale, but the names have been changed to protect the identity of the criminal informants and the law enforcement officers who must try to keep the rule of law in a state, whose government has gone crazy.
Winnie was an exceptional expert in his field. He grew up in California's Central Valley, which was once known as "America's Bread Basket." As the son of two 1960s hippies, the marijuana plant was always significant in his life. His parents had run a small marijuana farm for as long as he could remember.
He was strongly influenced by his mother who was involved in homeopathic healing and natural remedies. She was a respected herbalist sought out for her knowledge and healing gifts. His father was the bread winner who profited mostly from his skill in growing clandestine marijuana crops.
These people were real flower children, and it's difficult to think of them as threatening or dangerous. Winnie grew in stature and knowledge to follow in the path of his parents. As a young man, Winnie played soccer with the Latino farm workers including a boy from Nayarit, Mexico called "El Toro" (The Bull). As the friends grew up both boys became involved in the marijuana farming business, starting first in small grows and graduating to larger, and larger farms.
Winnie would study magazines such as "Head" and "High Times" to learn the best plants to cultivate. Sending for good Afghan seeds from Holland, he would start the plants indoors in 2-½-gallon plastic pots. He was a natural nurturer providing the perfect amount of sun, water, and other nutrients. His green thumb and knowledge of the marijuana plants produced increasily potent plants that exceeded each prior year's THC content. Sometimes El Toro or other Mexican friends worked with him.
After seven to nine weeks, the pot plants were ready to be transferred outdoors to 250-gallon sack pots. They eventually built industrial-sized grows yielding tons of marijuana product more potent than anything his parents had ever seen. One of his famous hybrid plants topped 40 percent THC content.
As marijuana became more accepted by the California public, his work was perceived as nearly legal. Winnie knew many local prominent citizens and even police officers who used his product. Even those who didn't use pot themselves looked at the private use of marijuana as unimportant. It was the hard drugs and pushers they despised.
The influence of the pot industry was powerful and reached all the way to Sacramento. When California passed its medical marijuana law, Winnie found a market he could really excel in. He truly believed in the healing properties of his product and distained alcoholics and hard drug abusers.
One day, his old friend Toro approached him about making some real money. Toro suggested that Winnie work for Toro's old friend from Nayarit known as "El Gallo" (The Rooster). Gallo promised a larger percentage of the profits of the hybrid marijuana harvest to Winnie and offered to cover start-up costs. His pal Toro would also be on the payroll.
Winnie was persuaded, and he talked a farmer friend in Sonoma County into renting his farm to Gallo. Many immigrant farm workers were also hired with promises of fair treatment and higher wages. Most of them were here illegally and in the past were often cheated out of their pay by "legitimate" farming corporations. So the huge marijuana farm operation was started in the rich fields of Sonoma County.
Winnie soon found that everyone feared the Bantam Rooster, Gallo, even Winnie's old friend Toro. Gallo was the farm's overseer for a powerful Mexican cartel. The group got its start smuggling marijuana into the U.S. in the drug haze days of the '60s and '70s. In Mexico, they were currently involved in a violent and bloody war with rival cartels over the control of the smuggling routes into the United States. By establishing their industrial size farms here, they avoided the border drug wars and any Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) interference.
Gallo's ruthlessness first became apparent when the farmer Winnie had recruited told him he had not been paid any of the promised rent for several months. Gallo knew the farmer had little legal recourse. What could he do, call the police?
He also noticed that the farm laborers were even more unfairly treated by their Mexican overseers than their former white ones. They were more like slaves than employees. Winnie himself had not been paid in almost two years. Gallo would dole out only a few dollars every so often, just to keep the workers from starving. He held them there with the promise to pay them when the crop sold and with threats of violence to anyone perceived to be disloyal.
On a day when Winnie had to leave the farm for a few fours, someone stole 20 large marijuana plants. He discovered the loss when he returned. He knew only his own workers could have done this. He strongly suspected his old friend Toro who was also at the end of his rope and desperate for cash.
When Gallo returned, his old friend Toro told Gallo that Winnie "the white boy" had taken the 20 plants. Gallo threatened to kill Winnie, as well as his mother and father, if the plants were not returned. These were not the type of people Winnie was used to dealing with. He had heard about the violence common to Mexican cartels, as well as the violence perpetrated on anyone who stole from them.
That night, fearing for his own life and the lives of his family, and angry about not being paid and his ultimate betrayal by Toro, he ran. He left, but not empty handed. He took what he felt he was owed and what he was accused of stealing, he took 20 plants.
He had relatives living in the Northwest, so he made the run for the border in a large motor home. However Winnie's luck had run out, just before he crossed the Northern California line he was stopped by the police.
The 20 plants weighed in at over 100 pounds of unprocessed marijuana. Winnie was through. He was a dead man now, in or out of jail. He knew the Mexican cartel would find him and blame him for the loss of all 40 plants. And what about his family? He tried to talk to the local cops but they seemed content with their 100-pound seizure.
Back in the 1920s during prohibition, I'm sure that some well-meaning scientists and doctors advocated for and suggested medicinal uses for alcohol. I'm sure some prescriptions for beer and wine were written. Another argument for the end of prohibition was that it would stop gang violence in the national war to control the illegal sale of booze. But the end of prohibition did not end alcohol abuse and addiction, or end organized crime gangs and their violence. Legalizing pot will do no better.
Please check out the California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA) papers on medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana. There's no benefit found in smoking marijuana that can't be more safely achieved with other prescription medications. How can we teach our children that smoking tobacco is bad for everyone, but smoking marijuana is good?
Wake up California; you've been sold a lie. This lie has allowed the Mexican (and other) cartels and gangs to produce huge crops of unregulated marijuana here in our state. These fields produce hybrid dope high in THC content and high in illicit profit. For this, some men are willing to kill.
The huge profits corrupt the souls of men in high places and produce the best government that money can buy. Today, the number one industry in California is illegal drugs and number two is the natural consequence of the first—the prison system.
The Mexican cartels grow rich; the politicians grow fat; and American criminal gangs profit. The old hippie growers are losing out to the industrial cartel farms, but the biggest losers are the honest California citizens.
Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.View Bio