Just four years ago, gangs were busting their way into search of marijuana in the native lands of Baja California, Mexico.
Now, their criminal enterprises are forced to work in California – a state riven by drought and infested with wildfires – and many more of the 80,000-strong illegal pot farms are making their way from North America across the border.
According to US officials, the miners dig up the weed in such dangerous conditions that there are tales of burying a suspect alive to preserve the scent.
But in California, despite fresh fire restrictions being imposed on farms, there are growing fears that an oversupply of weed could make the state’s landscape as dangerous to live on as the Amazon rainforest.
There are reports of the fire danger in the state being “one cigarette away”, said Daniel Berlant, California’s deputy director of forestry and fire protection.
A community of indigenous people, known as the San Joaquin Valley Poopiens, have told Al Jazeera their local streams are now acting as natural fuel for wildfires because of the growing marijuana farms.