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Disaster by Management: International Drug Cartels and the North State National Forest Lands Eugenie Rovai, CSU Chico Christine M. Rodrigue, CSU Long Beach.

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Presentation on theme: "Disaster by Management: International Drug Cartels and the North State National Forest Lands Eugenie Rovai, CSU Chico Christine M. Rodrigue, CSU Long Beach."— Presentation transcript:

1 Disaster by Management: International Drug Cartels and the North State National Forest Lands Eugenie Rovai, CSU Chico Christine M. Rodrigue, CSU Long Beach with the assistance of Janna Waligorski, CSU Chico National Social Science Association October 2007

2 Disaster by Management: Previous Work NASA and the Columbia accident NASA and the Columbia accident FBI and 9/11 FBI and 9/11 FEMA and Katrina FEMA and Katrina

3 Disaster by Management: Overview Disaster can result from the interaction of dangerous situations and institutional structures Disaster can result from the interaction of dangerous situations and institutional structures  Risk assessment messages are diluted and distorted as they move up a managerial chain of command (telephone game)  They compete with other concerns at each level, which may seem more immediate and compelling to managers  The structure of the institution affects message dilution: Each layer in a bureaucracy is an additional message filter  “Getting away” with risky situations not turning into actual disasters (yet) can normalize anomaly, creating a blind spot

4 Disaster by Management: Elements Managers’ dilemma: Type I and Type II errors Managers’ dilemma: Type I and Type II errors  Risk messages from below contain uncertainties  How does a manager balance uncertain risks and costs?  Overreacting to a danger incurs direct and opportunity costs  Underestimating a serious danger to save resources can kill or injure people and destroy property De minimis principle versus the precautionary principle De minimis principle versus the precautionary principle How does the manager’s manager balance these? How does the manager’s manager balance these?

5 Disaster by Management: Elements Managerial context Managerial context  “Managerialism” – belief that private sector management practices can improve cost efficiency in public sector  Cost pressures bias managers toward de minimis principles, dulling the urgency of risk messages Normal accident theory Normal accident theory  Accidents are inevitable in large, complex systems and in large, complex organizational structures  Once disaster begins, events cascade in unpredictable ways and at speeds too great for humans to process

6 Disaster by Management: Elements Institutional organization Institutional organization  Multiple chains of command (functional or institutional)  Hierarchy can create timidity in pushing a risk message: Risk assessment ranks lower than risk management  “Firewalls” between “stovepipes” may lose messages Geographical organization Geographical organization  Spatiality implies hierarchy: HQ vs. district offices  Messages originating in local or regional offices may be weakened by lower status of their geographical origin

7 Disaster by Management: Outcomes Local staff may be aware of a danger Local staff may be aware of a danger They may be unsure whom to notify They may be unsure whom to notify They may be reluctant to argue with a distracted superior They may be reluctant to argue with a distracted superior Managers have a wide array of concerns Managers have a wide array of concerns Risk messages diluted among these other concerns Risk messages diluted among these other concerns Dilution greater the more levels there are Dilution greater the more levels there are Managers may have to prefer de minimis over precautionary approaches because of cost (and ideological) constraints Managers may have to prefer de minimis over precautionary approaches because of cost (and ideological) constraints Upshot: Risk messages in bureaucracies may not trigger effective action until major tragedy strikes Upshot: Risk messages in bureaucracies may not trigger effective action until major tragedy strikes

8 Disaster by Management: Prospects Is a potential “disaster by management” unfolding in the remote mountains of California? Is a potential “disaster by management” unfolding in the remote mountains of California? International drug cartels respond to more border security International drug cartels respond to more border security Large wilderness marijuana farms in National Forests and Parks Large wilderness marijuana farms in National Forests and Parks The cartels are violent, and their crews are heavily armed The cartels are violent, and their crews are heavily armed Consequences: Consequences: Confrontation between growers and backpackers, campers, hikers, riders, hunters, and fishers a growing danger Confrontation between growers and backpackers, campers, hikers, riders, hunters, and fishers a growing danger Significant environmental damage to groundwater, surface water, slope stability, vegetation, and wildlife habitat Significant environmental damage to groundwater, surface water, slope stability, vegetation, and wildlife habitat

9 2006 Plant Seizures in National Forests Source:

10 Shift in Location to Public Lands Source:

11 Trends in Garden Size on Public Lands in Northern California Compiled from articles in several newspapers, NPR, and interviews,

12 Whiskeytown National Recreation Area   36 miles of shoreline   750 plant species   42,497 acres of land   3,200 acre lake   160 bird species   62 mammal species   8 (at least) marijuana gardens raided in the past year   1,133,561 plants seized in 2006 (Shasta-Trinity NF)

13 Jurisdictions in Study Area  Whiskeytown-Shasta- Trinity National Recreation Area  U.S. Forest Service administers Shasta and Trinity units  National Park Service administers Whiskeytown Unit

14 A Selection of Recent Park Closures and Shootings   September 11, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Forest Service personnel get into gunfight with three armed growers near Lytle Creek, killing one of them   August 31, A significant portion of Whiskeytown NRA closes for visitor safety due to the possibility that a grower armed with a shotgun is at large.   August 7, Sequoia National Park -- Roads closed to traffic due to gun shots heard during a garden raid

15 Drugs, Seeds, and Bullets  Armed crews live with the plants for months  Undocumented labor force brought in by cartels, left in isolation, and provisioned periodically from burlap bags left at pre-arranged pickup points Source: redding.com

16 Environmental Damage: PVC, Trash, Chemicals, Lead Source: redding.com

17 Water Flow Disruption and Contamination  Diversions: channels, pipes, dams, pools  Terracing of steep slopes and trail building  Human waste and chemicals  Results:  Chemical pollution downstream  Fish kills downstream  Slope instability/erosion  Aggradation/turbidity downstream Source: redding.com

18 Impacts on Vegetation and Wildlife  Introduction of invasive exotic species on shoes and soil  Killing and trimming of native trees for more light  Poaching of bears and deer for food, safety, recreation Source: B. Alberti, NPS

19 Cultural Evidence  International drug cartels, largely from Mexico  Smuggling labor instead of bulky marijuana  Periodic provisioning mostly from local Wal-Marts, Costcos: plastic bags, Gatorade, Marlboro, Spam, Budweiser, Hostess Cupcakes, …  Shrines to San Judas Tadeo, patron saint of difficult and desperate situations Source: redding.com, fresnobeehive.com,& freewebs.com/sanjudastadeo

20 Plants Being Processed on Site  Laborers paid when crop collected  September and October see a ramping up of weaponry as the cartels come in to collect the harvested and processed crop and the workers Source: redding.com

21 Plants and Camps Camouflaged

22 Remote Sensing: Cutting through the Camouflage?  Rarely explored and little applied for cost-effective detection  Hyperspectral imaging can pick out:  Marijuana  Irrigation  Disturbance Source: US Department of Justice Source: US Geological Survey

23 Ad hoc “Management” at the Local Level Source: redding.com

24 Disaster by Management? Discussion   Competing chains of command:   Law enforcement won’t share information with US Forest Service and National Park Service (concern is tipping hand to cartels)   Impediment to effective land management: prescribed burning, habitat restoration, public education activities   USFS or NPS report gardens to law enforcement, which then stops all FS and PS activities, wiping out pre-planning and wasting resources

25 Disaster by Management? Discussion   Stovepiping of information:   Preventing predictive modelling by researchers using remote sensing and GIS that would benefit both law enforcement and land management   Puts public at risk, an ironic outcome   Concern for not tipping off cartels allows cartels to continue using areas of high public interest and use   Without the FS and PS knowing about the cartels’ activities, they can’t target warnings to the public

26 Disaster by Management? Discussion   Dilution of information:   There is persistent reportage   Local law enforcement and local districts of the FS and PS are dealing with it, if at cross-purposes, by reassignment of their activities within their budgetary and staffing constraints   Federal entities express awareness (e.g., White House), but little concerted activity   Little public outcry and, so, other concerns at all levels have hindered effective response   Tragedies do occur, but these deaths and injuries are in small numbers not likely to amplify public concern and political response (analogy: car deaths versus plane crash deaths)

27 Disaster by Management? Conclusion   The public is in danger, as are its common resources   There is potential for the kinds of drug violence seen in parts of Colombia and Mexico   Environmental damage is serious, sustained, and expanding in magnitude on our public lands   The cartels’ geography is expanding to the north and east: This is quickly becoming a national problem   Delaying a unified national response may result in the problem scaling beyond any possibility of management This and related papers can be accessed at:

28 For More Information C.M. Rodrigue Katrina/Rita and risk communication within FEMA. Paper presented to the Association of American Geographers, Chicago (March). Office of the Attorney General, State of California, Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcment Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center Marijuana and methamphetamine trafficking on Federal lands threat assessment. Remote Sensing of Environment 64: Gaffey, Art (Forest Supervisor, Sequoia National Forest) Statement before the US House of Representatives. Daughtry, C. and Walthall, C Spectral discrimination of Cannabis sativa L. leaves and canopies. Remote Sensing of Environment 64: Redding Record Searchlight Hidden harvest. Special series of stories on marijuana farming in California’s North State. Surface Optics Corporation Hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral applications, marijuana/cannabis detection.


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