Mr. Speaker, earlier today I addressed this House and discussed how the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico has made it known it will hunt down journalists that report on the violent drug cartels in Mexico. This group of former Mexican military officers reportedly will track these reporters down even when they flee to the United States for safety. All of this because these journalists publish reports on the violent cross-border drug trade.
Tonight, I wish to discuss how these same outlaw Mexican drug cartels are operating marijuana plantations on public lands, not public lands in Mexico, but on public lands in the United States.
According to news reports, these plant plantations are in California, Arizona, Hawaii, West Virginia, Oregon, Tennessee and Kentucky, and account for 80 to 90 percent of all marijuana plantation production in the United States.
Law enforcement officials say that the drug cartels employ heavily armed bandits to guard these fields and they have superior fire power and surveillance equipment over American law enforcement agents.
The drug thugs destroy native vegetation and kill off all of the wildlife on the land so they can plant their marijuana crops. The cartels also use dangerous pesticides and fertilizers on the land that destroy the environment. Insultingly, all of this is occurring on American Federal lands.
There is more. The Washington Times reports today that ``campers, fishermen, hikers and forest and park officials are being intimidated, threatened or assaulted when they come near Mexican-run marijuana'' plantations on American soil, and that ``all this plant growing produces a street value of $6.7 billion.''
The Union newspaper from Nevada states, ``These American marijuana gardens are guarded by Mexican nationals, and the traffickers use the profits from pot sales to finance large methamphetamine labs in Mexico and the United States.''
Mr. Speaker, it seems that no public land is safe. Even California's Sequoia National Forest has been attacked by these drug cartels. The Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, John Walters, said, ``Mexican drug cartels are turning our national parks into centers of international drug production and trafficking. Public lands are being held hostage by illegal drug traffickers.''
Mr. Speaker, numerous law enforcement personnel, State, local and Federal, are attempting to retake our Federal and public lands from these drug cartel invaders. Some progress is reported, but the battle for our land goes forward.
We cannot allow these land grabbing, environmentally hazardous drug terrorists to seize America's national forests and national parks. These outlaws cannot be allowed to camp in our parks and swim in the profits from marijuana plantations. They should be tracked down, arrested, prosecuted, and put in jail.
We need to seize all their money from whatever financial institutions they try to hide it in and use the money to restore our national parks, the way they were before the drug invaders arrived.
We need to make it more difficult for them to operate here by actually securing the southern border, something that Homeland Security has yet to accomplish. Right now, security along our southern border is a glittering illusion.
Our national parks and forests are worth fighting for, and rather than journalists, campers, fishermen, hunters, and park rangers being afraid of these drug cartels like the Zetas, these outlaw drug gangs should be afraid of our relentless determinatio