Be warned this is a very depressing report from the LA Times who quite rightly are opening up the darkest secrets of the Emerald Triangle
Pátzcuaro, Michoacán —
In a small square crypt behind frosted glass in subtropical Michoacán is incontrovertible proof of the cost of California cannabis.
The tomb just within the high cemetery gates of the Panteón Municipal de Pátzcuaro, flanked by fresh flowers in twin blue vases, holds all that can be found of Ulises Anwar Ayala Andrade.
Sharing the crypt is what remains of Ulises’ teen son, a convivial boy named after his father, but whom everyone affectionately called “Chino.”
For two decades, “Ulises Zapatero” sold shoes in Pátzcuaro’s open air market, beckoning passersby to his racks of colorful Nikes and Pumas.
The shoe stock was bought with high-interest loans, and the Ayalas carried a mortgage on the family of five’s simple house in the outskirts above Pátzcuaro. Struggling with those debts, Ulises obtained a tourist visa for the United States in early 2020 and, intending to find work, boarded a bus north.
Their quest for U.S. dollars would take them deep into California’s Emerald Triangle at the height of a runaway cannabis market, to a crude shed on a Mendocino County farm, beside other Mexican laborers in the underground economy.
Traveling in the other direction were coffins.
From the southern Mojave Desert to the mist-shrouded mountains in the northern ranges, the California green rush was exploiting and killing workers.
Relaxed criminal penalties and expanding markets had set off a massive boom in illegal cultivation. Even on licensed farms, California regulators failed to protect workers in the labor-intensive industry.
A Los Angeles Times investigation documented widespread exploitation, wage theft and disregard for worker safety and housing.
The newspaper found 44 farm-related deaths, surveying just a five-year period in only 10 counties. Among them was an 8-month old infant who died in Trinity County from an undetermined cause. The rest were workers.
All but five of the deceased were immigrants.
A third of them came from Mexico.
Read the full report