Opinion: 1. It’s no surprise that farmworkers live in squalid conditions; 2. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is taking over local drug dealing


Jan. 30, 2023

Daily Post Editor

The shootings of seven farmworkers near Half Moon Bay is tragic, and it’s brought attention to the squalid housing in which the victims lived. 

But those conditions aren’t a surprise. In fact, one media outlet, a day after the shootings, reposted a story it did a couple of years ago about the poor living conditions. It was a case of old news getting recycled.

Search the archives of most of the media outlets, and you’ll find similar stories over the years. 

So I was surprised to hear San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe say at a news conference last week that a county executive, who he didn’t name, called him after the shootings and said about the housing: “Now we know about it, and we have to act on it.”

The question for that county executive is — how did you not know about the living conditions? It’s not a secret that these workers live in “squalor.” 

It’s like Captain Renaut saying he was “shocked” to discover gambling in Casablanca.

Either the county executive who spoke to Wagstaffe lacks any curiosity about the county where he serves or officials have ignored the housing problem for years, but feel they must act now because there’s been so much media attention.

• • •

What’s different about this?

A fair question for anyone who opposes a higher-density housing development on the former USGS site in Menlo Park: Did you ever oppose high-density housing on the east side of Menlo Park? Just wondering. 

• • •

Sinaloa cartel is taking over

My, how drug-dealing has changed. It used to be that weed, cocaine and other drugs were brought to the U.S. by cartels in large quantities and sold to an American kingpin who picked them up near the border. The kingpin would farm out the stuff to lower-level dealers. It might go through four or five hands before it reached the consumer. 

A journalist who has become an expert on drug dealing, Leighton Woodhouse, says the Mexican Sinaloa cartel has changed the multi-level marketing structure by which drugs are sold locally. 

Now, Sinaloa has vertically integrated the drug trade in the U.S.

According to Woodhouse, Sinaloa brings the drugs into the United States along with Hondurans, who sell the stuff to customers. 

“The dealers technically work for themselves but the cartel is their sole supplier,” Woodhouse reports. “Once they pay the cartel back for the smuggling expenses (which usually takes just a couple of weeks), they’re free to do what they want. They invariably stick to the easy money of dealing.”

They make over $1,000 a day, Woodhouse writes, “and in cities like SF that have effectively decriminalized drug sales, there’s little to no risk.”

Marijuana farming

Not only is the cartel peddling fentanyl, cocaine and meth in open-air drug markets like San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, but Sinaloa is making a fortune with illegal marijuana farming operations. 

When California voters approved the legalization of marijuana, they were told this would wipe out illegal drug dealing in the state. It’s now clear that the opposite has occurred, Woodhouse writes. 

Official estimates say about 80% of the marijuana consumed in California is purchased from illegal dealers. These dealers get drugs from cartels, which are able to grow weed at a lower price than government-licensed operations.

“California’s marijuana decriminalization incentivized Mexican drug cartels to create illegal farms in the state’s redwood forests and bring their criminal lifestyles along with them. Cartel-connected murders, gun fights, sex trafficking and missing persons are on the rise in Humboldt County,” Woodhouse writes.

Woodhouse said the assassination-style murders of six people, including a 10-month-old baby, in the Central Valley town of Goshen on Jan. 16 may be a sign that drug-cartel violence has arrived in California. 

Cartel hit?

In fact Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux initially said the murders were “likely a cartel hit” before walking back his comments to say the case was under investigation. 

I’m wondering how long it will take before violence like this comes to the Peninsula.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].

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