Large-Scale Texas Marijuana Pot Busts: Real Progress Or Media Theater?


The news of high-profile busts of large marijuana-growing operations has been a constant in this summer’s headlines and have been eye-popping successes, but suspects have been scarce, reports the Houston Chronicle. Benigno Ramirez of Michoacan, Mexico is wanted by the Fort Bend, Tx., County Sheriff’s Office after authorities allegedly found a cellphone containing a “selfie” of him at the site of a $10 million pot farm lacessible by boat and helicopter. Lt. Josh Dale, commander of the Fort Bend County Narcotics Task Force, said his department is still working the case in the hopes that Ramirez turns up.

A large marijuana plantation discovered in early August in Polk County may be linked to an even larger farm found in July worth $175 million, a record haul for Texas law enforcement. On Tuesday yet another growing operation was discovered in Polk County, with officials announcing the confiscation of some 9,600 plants. Dean Becker, a Houston-based author and expert on the drug war, has watched the recent round of marijuana busts with some derision. He believes the recent numbers and shocking photos of man-sized marijuana plants are all for theater, trumped-up to look better for media outlets. “They like to exaggerate the street values to make themselves and their work seem to be making a difference,” Becker said. That's not the case, Dale says. “We really go off the potential street value that a plant may have once it is cultivated, so we assume that two pounds of marijuana could yield “X” amount of dollars, say, on the open market,” Dale says.

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