As the smoke settles from the first week of legal marijuana sales in Colorado, experts are warning that sanctioned pot dealers could become targets for the very folks they put out of business.
Taking over a trade once ruled by drug cartels and turning it into an all-cash business could make pot shops prime targets for extortion, black-market competition and robbery. One veteran border narcotics agent told FoxNews.com Colorado’s legal pot industry will find it hard to keep the criminals from horning in on a lucrative business they once controlled.
“Mexico is already in Colorado without the risks,” the agent, who requested anonymity, said of the state’s heavy pre-existing cartel presence. “Legal businesses will likely see a rise in extortion attempts while law enforcement will see a lot of backdoor deals being made.”
Cartels, especially the Juarez and Sinaloa, who have a strong presence in Colorado, could not have been happy with the estimated $1 million in sales Jan. 1, the first day of legalized retail sales. In 2012 the Mexican Competitiveness Institute issued a report saying that Mexico’s cartels would lose as much as $1.425 billion if Colorado legalized marijuana. The organization also predicted that drug trafficking revenues would fall 20 to 30 percent, and the Sinaloa cartel, which would be the most affected, would lose up to 50 percent.
Read more: FoxNews.com