Mexican authorities yesterday flew in journalists, dignitaries and college kids to watch the burning of 134 tons of marijuana — much of which was seized earlier this week near Tijuana. It was a statement to drug cartels, or something.

The Times was there, on a military base near Tijuana to watch the event which was carefully staged by Mexican authorities to reassure everyone that they, in fact, aren't losing the battle with drug cartels as badly as everyone thinks they are. Shit, they might as well declare victory right now. Or something like that. What was it like on the scene?

And then, after a military band played, after speeches by Army and police commanders, after a laborer sprayed fuel on the verdant, pungent bales, after college students and dignitaries and a throng of journalists took aim with their cameras, it was lit on fire.

We're sure that more than one tear was shed at this event among the journalists and college kids (and dignitaries, too). But how did they go about setting off the big show? With a switch followed by a nice contact high for everyone there:

With the push of a switch setting off an electrical charge, a few patches of flame burst from the bales and quickly erupted in boiling flames that sent blasts of heat more than 100 meters away and thick, black billowing smoke into the wind.

The column of smoke was visible for several miles and eventually the tell-tale scent began enveloping the area, especially down wind, as guests were ushered out.

Yeah, we know that "tell-tale scent" of burning weed which you write about, Mr. New York Times Reporter. And we're sure that you've never, ever whiffed anything of the sort in real life. Nice try, buddy — we're on to you. The Mexican weed beat must be a pretty nice (kushy?) one.

[Image via AP]