Cuban refugees dominate marijuana trade in South Florida

Recent Cuban “refugees” are running a huge illegal marijuana business in South Florida according to Cannibas (I didn’t even know there was such a publication until today. Isn’t this new media age great?).  And, get this, apparently we can’t deport Cubans!   Of course, all that could change if Obama normalizes relations with Cuba.  I never thought of that bright side before.

Cuban refugees are dominating arrests in Florida’s indoor marijuana trade in what investigators call a nearly punishment-free crime.

South Florida is considered the center of a trade in which groups of young Cubans throughout the state are turning to the lucrative business of raising ultra-potent pot worth up to $4,500 a pound, without fear of deportation or lengthy prison sentences.
Probation is a common sentence for anyone convicted in state court of running a growhouse, drug agents say. And, unlike other foreign-born felons, U.S. policy prevents the deportation of Cubans.

South Florida groups identified by law enforcement as Cuban Drug Trafficking Organizations control hundreds of growhouses that have sprung up from Miami to Atlanta since 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, court records and interviews with local and federal drug agents. “This takes me back to the old days of the mob,” said Sgt. Julio Lima, of the Polk County Sheriff’s Organized Crime Squad. “This is organized crime at its best.”

Statewide records do not specify the nationalities of those who run growhouses. However, authorities say that Cuban influence has risen rapidly.

Supervisors for the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area estimate that 85 percent to 90 percent of the suspects arrested in Florida on grow-house-related charges were Cubans who arrived in the United States within the past five years. They base their estimate on arrests in South Florida and two statewide busts in 2008 and 2009 known as “D-Day” and “Eagle Claw.” The trend is especially apparent in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Statistics from those two statewide busts show that in Palm Beach, out of 36 arrests, 90 to 95 percent were Cuban. In Miami-Dade, out of 92 arrests, 95 percent arrested were Cubans.

Readers, I’ll bet most of you are surprised to learn that we are actually still bringing in Cuban refugees, although some of these criminals might have arrived illegally.  Nonetheless, these are the stats on how many Cubans have come in legally through the refugee resettlement program since 2005:

2005: 6539

2006: 3142

2007: 2923

2008: 4178

2009: 4800

Those first four year stats are here.   And, 2009 is here.

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