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DEA Agent: Crime groups forcing Chinese migrants grow marijuana in exchange for passage into U.S.

June 2, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
DEA Agent: Crime groups forcing Chinese migrants grow marijuana in exchange for passage into U.S.

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Chinese criminal groups are smuggling migrants into the United States and are forcing them into indentured confinement where they must illegally grow marijuana in exchange for their journey.

A U.S. Drug Enforcement special agent compared it to a modern form of human trafficking.

DEA Special Agent Randy Ladd told NBC News that Chinese gangs cover the cost of smuggling illegal immigrants’ from China into the U.S. by requiring them to work in marijuana productions houses in and around Denver. “It’s like indentured servitude,” Ladd said in an interview with NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez. “It is a form of human trafficking.”

He added that the Chinese migrants are brought from China to Belgium before moving on to Mexico, where they make asylum cases at the border. He said the migrants then go missing before their immigration hearing to ascertain the validity of their claim of “credible fear.” Ladd noted that they frequently discover immigration fugitives when they bust marijuana grow facilities.

According to NBC News, Chinese, Cuban, and Mexican international criminal organizations are utilizing states that legalized marijuana sale and production as a cover to illicitly grow and distribute pot across the U.S. The groups purchase or rent properties in states such as California, Colorado, and Washington where they indicated that the enforcement of growing operations is less stringent.

The DEA agent says Chinese criminal gangs are forcing migrants to grow pot in exchange for passage into the U.S.

After buying or renting the properties, which are often in wealthy areas, the drug organizations will then transport migrants into the homes to carry out the growing and harvesting operations in exchange for being smuggled into the United States.

Breitbart Texas reported that that foreign nationals, other than Mexicans and Central American, will frequently pay cartel smugglers between $15,000 and $25,000 to gain entry into the U.S. Often, this money is not given up front and the migrant is forced into labor to pay off the debt.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement units in these states have recently increased their effort to crack down on underground grow schemes.

In April, local and federal authorities carried out raids on 74 marijuana grow houses in Sacramento. Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to it as “one of the largest residential forfeitures in American history” after the agents seized the residence that was illegally used to produce the drugs.

The Chinese transnational criminal organizations usually manage operations in California and Washington while Colorado is experiencing an influx of Cuban and Mexican-based cartels, according to El Paso, Colorado, County Sheriff Bill Elder.

“They have found it’s easier to grow and process marijuana in Colorado, ship it throughout the U.S. than it is to bring it from Mexico or Cuba,” Elder said.

The criminal groups not only benefit from being able to hide in plain sight in states with sanctioned marijuana laws, but they profit from trafficking in the labor to conduct the operations.

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