The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) is part of the national drug control policy. It recently issued its fourth annual report on the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado which documents  troubling problems Colorado faces such as increases in impaired driving and dramatic increases in childhood admission to emergency rooms because of pot exposure.

But in addition to the problems faced by Colorado due to widespread availability of THC products (THC is the the psychoactive ingredient in pot), a disturbing sub-text emerges from the report that Florida is being targeted by drug cartels trying to push pot into the sunshine state. The report lists examples of pot-related criminal investigations, one of which is entitled “Anticipate Hundreds of Marijuana Busts” that includes the following that should serve as a harrowing warning to Florida residents:

In March 2016, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers will be targeting unregistered, commercial-sized operations run by out-of-state residents, mainly from Florida and with ties to cartels. “Florida’s proximity to Cuba has increasingly made it an entry point for drug cartels looking to penetrate markets in the U.S., officials say. ‘If you look at who is being busted in Pueblo and who will be busted in Colorado Springs over the summer, you can tell: These are organized crime,’ Suthers said.”

Since March 31, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and DEA agents have raided 23 illegal grows and arrested 35 people. Of those arrests, 26 people have been from out of state, all but one with ties to Florida. At least six residents were Cuban nationals, the sheriff’s office said.

Another investigation appears under the title “Floridians Moving to Colorado for Drug Trafficking” and reports:

In June 2016, DEA’s Grand Junction, Colorado Office seized 675 illegal marijuana plants, 3 guns and 3 ounces of cocaine from 5 different residential rental properties in Mesa and Delta counties Colorado. Turns out the group of Cuban nationals rented the homes for the sole purpose of setting up illegal marijuana home grows. These individuals obtained doctor recommendations to grow or to possess up to 99 plants for personal use when in reality this marijuana was being shipped to Florida and New Jersey. “…despite having doctor recommendations to use marijuana for chronic pain, there was no items located during the search warrants that indicated any of the defendants were using any marijuana at all.”

Still another investigation targeted multiple homes where pot was being grown by members of a Florida-based drug trafficking organization. The operation came to the attention of authorities because of its deleterious effect on local residents and is summarized under the title “Residents Harassed by Marijuana Growers”:

In September 2015, the DEA Colorado Springs Resident Office investigated a network of marijuana grow houses in southern Colorado. At least nine marijuana grows houses were operated by members of a Florida-based drug trafficking organization who had recently relocated to Colorado to produce large amounts of marijuana for their customers along the East Coast. During the investigation, one of the grow houses was destroyed by fire, and neighbors were repeatedly intimidated and harassed by the growers. In September 2015, the execution of search warrants at the grow sites resulted in the seizure of over 1,000 marijuana plants, 50 pounds of harvested marijuana, and 28 firearms.

This last item names something common with many of the investigations highlighted by the RMHIDTA report: the presence of multiple firearms.

Florida is named 34 times in the report and the example investigations listed above make it clear there is active organized crime activity in Florida ready to take advantage of relaxed laws related to growing, packaging and distributing THC products.