Archive for the ‘cocaine’ Category

Colombia: Don’t fire the mayor yet! And how about the GPS?

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

says a judge, after much to-do over garbage mishandling by a former guerrilla who’s mayor of Bogota:
Mayor’s Firing Should be Postponed: Colombia Chief Prosecutor:
Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez Ordered Gustavo Petro’s Removal

Colombia’s chief prosecutor is urging President Juan Manuel Santos to postpone a controversial decision by the inspector general to fire Bogotá’s left-leaning mayor over alleged mismanagement of trash collection, saying the decision’s better left for courts or voters.

And here’s the thing,

The fate of the mayor of the city of eight million is being closely watched in Havana, Cuba, where Colombia’s government is engaged in 13-month-old peace talks with the country’s main Marxist rebel group FARC. A key outcome of any peace deal would likely include allowing leftist rebels who lay down their weapons to run for political offices, including that of mayor.

In other Colombian news, front-page, WaPo, finally, a bit of good news:

U.S. aid helps Colombia kill rebels

Covert action in Colombia
U.S. intelligence, GPS bomb kits help Latin American nation cripple rebel forces

The 50-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), once considered the best-funded insurgency in the world, is at its smallest and most vulnerable state in decades, due in part to a CIA covert action program that has helped Colombian forces kill at least two dozen rebel leaders, according to interviews with more than 30 former and current U.S. and Colombian officials.

The covert program in Colombia provides two essential services to the nation’s battle against the FARC and a smaller insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN): Real-time intelligence that allows Colombian forces to hunt down individual FARC leaders and, beginning in 2006, one particularly effective tool with which to kill them.

That weapon is a $30,000 GPS guidance kit that transforms a less-than-accurate 500-pound gravity bomb into a highly accurate smart bomb. Smart bombs, also called precision-guided munitions or PGMs, are capable of killing an individual in triple-canopy jungle if his exact location can be determined and geo-coordinates are programmed into the bomb’s small computer brain.

Meanwhile, After Killing 8, Colombian Guerrillas go on Christmas Truce

Venezuela: Diplomats confirm Venezuelan links to drug trafficking

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Spain’s ABC: Diplomats confirm Venezuelan links to drug trafficking

Information published by ABC regarding negotiations between Nicolás Maduro’s staff—when he was foreign minister—in an FMLN drug trafficking operation in El Salvador, has corroborated suspicions that existed in Venezuelan political and diplomatic circles.

“This news confirms what many already knew about the significant and growing presence of drug trafficking in Venezuela and its important relations with the top echelon in the government and the Armed Forces,” former Venezuelan ambassador to Sweden and Guyana, Sadio Garavini commented. “Venezuela has become a center of command and control of international drug trafficking since the expulsion of the DEA (U.S. anti-drug agency) of the country and the indefinite suspension of the effective partnership with former United States cooperation in the fight against drugs.”

This should come as no surprise to Fausta’s Blog readers.

Additionally, the links extend to Colombia’s FARC, El Salvador’s FMNL, and Hezbollah:

leaders of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador are linked to the Colombian guerrillas, while stressing the massive financial backing from Venezuela to the FMLN, which has been done to take complete control of the country.

“The FMLN and Alba Petroleos of El Salvador – the entity that funnels Venezuelan aid – has taken over the country in ways the United Fruit Company would have never imagined: from airlines to mass purchases of land in the capital, coffee crops above price, pharmacies, banks, and media outlets. Montsant also points to reports and studies by the University of Salamanca, demonstrating the influence of Venezuelan oil through Alba Petróleos on Salvadorans leaders, enabling a patronage policy that seeks votes in the popular sectors.

The ABC article is titled Diplomáticos confirman la conexión de Venezuela con el narcotráfico
Destacan que la tradicional alianza del chavismo con la guerrilla colombiana de las FARC ha sido un factor esencial en ese comercio ilegal

(Diplomats confirm Venezuela’s links to drug trafficking
They assert that chavismo’s alliance with the FARC Colombian guerrilla is an essential factor of the illegal trade.)

Last week, ABC had reported that Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s mediated an FMLN deal with the FARC back when he was vice-president (link in Spanish) allowing drug flights landing in the state of Apure, Venezuela.

UPDATE:
Linked by Babalu. Thanks!


Venezuela burns down Mexican plane

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Getting rid of the evidence?

Here’s what happened: On Monday a private jet with a Mexican registration number was forced to land in Venezuela. Its passengers apparently fled. The Venezuelan military burned down the plane.

Now Nicolas Maduro says the plane was carrying cocaine.

This intruder was immobilized on air by our Air Force 7 MN north of Buena Vista del Meta, Apure state

Mexican plane downed in Venezuela ‘had cocaine’:

A Mexican plane forced down and destroyed in Venezuelan territory earlier in the week was full of cocaine, President Nicolas Maduro said.

Maduro said he was surprised that Mexico had asked for an explanation of the November 4 incident through diplomatic channels.

Mexican officials said Friday that the seven people aboard the plane — two crew members and five passengers — flew from the central Mexican state of Queretaro under false identities.

For what it’s worth,

Apure state is well known as a place where airplanes take off packed with Colombian cocaine bound for points north, typically Central America. From there, the drug is typically moved by Mexican cartels north to the United States.

Questions:

Who had been in the plane? What had it been doing in Venezuela? Was it involved in the drug trade? Why had it gone up in flames? And where was the crew?

And, if the plane was “full of cocaine,” as Maduro said, what happened to the cocaine?

Bolivia: What the “Bolivarian revolution” means, in practice

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Bolivia’s Descent Into Rogue State Status
The country is a hub for organized crime and a safe haven for terrorists.

The government is an advocate for coca growers. The Iranian presence is increasing. And reports from the ground suggest that African extremists are joining the fray.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is also the elected president of the coca producers’ confederation, and Vice President Alvaro García Linera, formerly of the Maoist Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, began building their repressive narco-state when they took office in 2006.

Step one was creating a culture of fear. Scores of intellectuals, technocrats and former government officials were harassed. Many fled.

With the opposition cowed, President Morales has turned Bolivia into an international hub of organized crime and a safe haven for terrorists. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been expelled. United Nations data show that cocaine production is up in Bolivia since 2006 and unconfirmed reports say that Mexican, Russian and Colombian toughs are showing up to get a piece of the action. So are militants looking to raise cash and operate in the Western Hemisphere.

The Tehran connection is no secret. Iran is a nonvoting member of the “Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas” ( ALBA ). Its voting members are Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Read the whole thing.

Venezuela: The ministry of Supreme Happiness

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The news on the latest scheme to waste oil money on propaganda made me wonder if they introduced it by having a Judy Garland impersonator singing this,

But noooo, it was created in honor of the late Hugo Chavez

The supreme happiness office, created in honor of the late president Hugo Chavez and the country’s revolutionary figure, Simon Bolivar, will serve the elderly, children, people with disabilities, and the homeless, according to local news reports. The minister will begin imposing cheer on December 9, in time to coincide with the first ever “Loyalty and Love to Hugo Chavez Day.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called the agency a “social advance in the struggle against the perfidy of capitalism.”

Zounds! “The perfidy of capitalism?” More like the day after the municipal elections, which are scheduled for December 8.

The article mentions that

The Earth Institute’s 2013 World Happiness Report placed Venezuela as the happiest country in South America (for the second year in a row) and twentieth worldwide.

Clearly the Earth Institute’s researchers managed to find folks that are blissful over cloth feminine pads, empty supermarket shelves and no toilet paper. The rest of the Venezuelans? Not so much.

It’s not quite clear just how supreme the happiness goes,

While there have been no details as to what the office will do, I can think of so many ways that it can celebrate and promote the happiness of all Venezuelans, particularly by pointing out happy events around the country, of which there are so many.

As an example, the Vice-Ministry could make sure to interview on TV anyone who managed to buy a package of corn flour, which has become one of the supreme moments of any Venezuelan’s life in the the last few months. And even if you think that finding toilet paper is another such happy moment, the Vice-Ministry could celebrate not only the finding of the roll of toilet paper by those citizens that lacked it, but more importantly recreate the moment of supreme happiness that represents using it for the first time after not having any for a while.

Feeling unhappy, try Orwellian Venezuela: Maduro creates the “Supreme Happiness” office
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of the “Supreme Happiness Under Secretary” to address social debt shortcomings and which was in honor of the late Commandant and president Hugo Chavez and the country’s liberator, Simon Bolivar.
As mentioned abovem timing is everything:

The Orwellian and Kim Il Sung style announcements coincide with the creation of the “Loyalty and Love to Hugo Chavez Day” and come a few weeks ahead of the 8 December municipal elections which could bring surprises to the Bolivarian revolution ravaged by the most serious economic shortcomings in a decade particularly the lack of sufficient food and basics in the country’s stores.

“Social debt shortcomings,” indeed.

Indeed; the Supreme Happiness is headed by a military officer (a.k.a. “Viceministerio para la Suprema felicidad social del pueblo venezolano“), as are also the office of Sovereign People, the Superior Office for the Defense of the Economy, and the Strategic Superior Centre for Homeland Security and Protection.

Happiness all around! How Venezuela’s Military Tried to Fly A Ton of Cocaine to France

police in France, Italy and Spain had launched a joint investigation some months previous, operating undercover in Europe and Venezuela without the knowledge of the Venezuelan government. “They could not tell the Venezuelan government what was going on, because they knew that high-ranking Venezuelan military officials were involved.”

Italian police managed to infiltrate the criminal operation, she said, getting details from informants about collaboration between the Venezuelans and the Ndrangheta, the powerful Italian mafia who are estimated to control 80 percent of the cocaine coming into Europe. The ‘Ndrangheta were due to receive the shipment, which Camero believes was originally purchased by the GNB from the FARC in the border state of Apure.

Happiness, 31 suitcases worth.

Linked to by Dustbury, and by Cherokee Gothic. Thank you!

Mexico: Why the Sinaloa Cartel {hearts} Chicago

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Jason McGaahn reports on Why Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel Loves Selling Drugs in Chicago
Chicago is key to a business moving tons of drugs for billions of dollars. Here’s how the whole operation works
.

In Chicago, the cartel has a near monopoly. “I’d say 70 to 80 percent of the narcotics here are controlled by Sinaloa and Chapo Guzmán,” says Jack Riley, director of the DEA’s Chicago office. “Virtually all of our major investigations at some point lead back to other investigations tied to Sinaloa.”

Because of four factors: transportation, ethnic makeup, size, and gang culture.

Chicago is the transportation hub of America, a fact not lost on the Mexican cartels (just as it wasn’t on Capone and his fellow bootleggers almost a century ago). It’s ideally located within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the nation’s population. Six interstate highways crisscross the region, connecting east and west. Only two states (Texas and California) have more interstate highway miles than Illinois.

As for rail transport, Chicago welcomes six of the seven major railroads and accounts for a quarter of the country’s rail traffic. Water? The Port of Chicago is one of the nation’s largest inland cargo ports, and the city is the world’s third-largest handler of shipping containers (after Singapore and Hong Kong). And let’s not forget about Midway and O’Hare: More than 86 million passengers and 1.5 million tons of cargo passed through these airports combined in 2011, the latest year for which data are available.

Second, the Chicago metro area has a large Hispanic immigrant population, making it easy for Mexican cartel operatives to blend in. (Only Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Houston have more residents of Mexican descent, according to the 2010 census.)

Because many of these immigrants—especially those who are here illegally—are poor or underemployed, the area provides a fertile recruiting ground for cartel operatives.

Third, the city is a huge market in its own right. Chicagoans’ taste for drugs is as big as—if not bigger than—that of most other Americans. For example, according to a report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 86 percent of people arrested in Cook County in 2012 tested positive for at least one illegal narcotic—the highest percentage of any big city. Twenty-two percent tested positive for more than one.

Finally, Chicago’s deeply entrenched street gangs offer a ready-made retail network. Law enforcement officials estimate the number of street gangs in the city at more than 70 and the number of members at between 70,000 and 125,000. The DEA’s Jack Riley likens them to “100,000 Amway salesmen” for cartel-supplied drugs.

Read the full article here.

The city of Chicago registered more homicides than any city in the nation in 2012.

Brazil: Dilma fires foreign minister

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Brazil’s Foreign Minister is out of a job, a Bolivian senator has asylum, and the Bolivian government is displeased (emphasis added):
Brazil Fires Its Foreign Minister
Antonio Patriota Lost His Job on Monday Amid Rising Diplomatic Tension with Neighboring Bolivia.

Brazil’s foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, was fired on Monday amid rising diplomatic tension with neighboring Bolivia after a Brazilian diplomat helped a Bolivian opposition senator who faced criminal charges flee the country over the weekend.

The senator, Roger Pinto, took refuge in Brazil’s embassy in La Paz last year, saying he received death threats after making public leaked Bolivian documents allegedly showing collusion between government officials and drug traffickers. Spokespeople for Mr. Morales have denied the allegations. Brazil granted Mr. Pinto asylum in June 2012, but Bolivia didn’t provide permission for Mr. Pinto to leave Bolivia.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff removed Mr. Patriota in part because she only learned of Mr. Pinto’s extraction after he was already in Brazil, a person familiar with the decision said. Mr. Patriota has been offered a post at Brazil’s U.N. mission, according to a statement from Ms. Rousseff.

Forensic evidence conclusively proves that a majority of the cocaine consumed in Brazil comes from Bolivia (60%).

Postscript:

An additional point of analysis, as several people including Rio Gringa and Paulo Sotero have noted, is that Patriota was never particularly close to Dilma. He was one of the few remaining holdovers from Lula, gradually phased out during Dilma’s term. So this issue could also just be an excuse for a long desired cabinet shuffle by the president.

The third Monday in August Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina’s primary elections
Bad dress rehearsal
Cristina Fernández has an uphill struggle ahead of mid-term elections

BAHAMAS
Bahamas deports 24 Cuban refugees
The government of the Bahamas deports back to Cuba 24 refugees who had applied for asylum in the US and other countries.

BRAZIL
Brazil Concerned About Hotel Price Hikes at WCup

CHILE
Chile strike at BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine ends

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s police force, corrupt and incompetent?

A small red raccoon? No, an olinguito. Olinguito: ‘Overlooked’ mammal carnivore is major discovery
Scientists in the US have discovered a new animal living in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador.
Watch the video at the link.

CUBA
Namibia pays its debt to Castro Kingdom with endangered wildlife

2 Cuban political prisoners sentenced to more time in Castro gulag

The revolución‘s Royalty and Servitude

ECUADOR
Plan to Ban Oil Drilling in Amazon Is Dropped

LATIN AMERICA
Terror Threat in Latin America

MEXICO
Mexico Steps Up Security After Drug Lord’s Capture
Arrest of Gulf Cartel Kingpin Is New Blow to Criminal Groups

Mexican oil workers fear Pemex proposal

Energy reform in Mexico
Giving it both barrels
The government has made a promising start, but it may struggle to bring an historic reform to fruition

NICARAGUA
Colombia and Nicaragua’s Maritime Dispute Intensifies

Domestic and regional political repercussions will heavily influence Colombia’s response. The threat of a second territorial maritime loss to Nicaragua would further weaken President Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection prospects. Inaction against Nicaragua, when combined with slow-moving negotiations with the FARC rebel group could cost Santos’ political party the presidency in 2014.

PANAMA
Panama May Hit North Korea with $1 Million Fine for Illicit Arms Transport. Good luck collecting it!

PARAGUAY
Paraguay’s New President Woos Foreign Investment

PERU
How Peru became the cocaine capital of the world
The recent arrests of British women in Lima highlight the large numbers of foreigners in the country’s jails facing smuggling charges and the Andes’ growing importance in the drugs trade

The rise of the Peruvian cocaine trade has also been driven by market forces. In recent years, demand for the drug has fallen substantially in the US, which was traditionally served by the Colombian trade. Peru, on the other hand, exports the majority of its illicit product to Brazil (where it is turned into the cheaper and more addictive crack), and to Europe. Unlike their American counterparts, British appetite for cocaine almost doubled during the Noughties.

PUERTO RICO
Social Security Disability Fraud in Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Canadian bank abandons Uruguay following raid on its office on request from Argentine judge
The Royal Bank of Canada, RBC, is abandoning Uruguay following a raid in its offices at Zonamerica ordered by a Uruguayan magistrate on request from Argentina during which computers, documents on clients and even cell phones from staff were seized by the intervening party which included on-watching Argentine treasury police.

VENEZUELA
Tyrants and their enabling laws:
Showdown looms in Venezuela over decree powers plan

Maduro, who narrowly won an April election to replace his late mentor Hugo Chavez, says he is ready to change “all the laws” if necessary to stamp out widespread graft that is denting his popularity with some core supporters.

Venezuela central bank head replaced amid corruption claims

By subscription: Venezuela’s President Seeks Expanded Powers
Ruling by decree would enable Maduro to deal with deep economic and social problems.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela’s ruined agricultural industry

Cuba: 54 years of Revolución, for what?

Venezuela: The perils of hyperinflation

Pisco, the next tequila?

Venezuela: Unleashing homophobia

Puerto Rico: DoJ, FBI Disability fraud investigation under way

Mexico: Caro Quintero, and Fast & Furious

Mexico: Will the proposed energy reform be enough?

Mexico: Oil industry overhaul?

Panama: No deal with North Korea

Mexico: From exchange student in Iran to political refugee in 5 easy steps

Podcast:
Chile and other US-Latin America issues


Colombia: The FARC negotiations

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two different views on the ongoing negotiations:

Peace Signs in Colombia
Can Bogotá and the FARC Finally Overcome Their Differences?
which concludes with,

Polls published by the Colombia media indicate that the majority of Colombians support ending the conflict with the FARC by diplomatic means. Unfortunately, there has been little public discourse about the potential struggles that the nation will face if the FARC lay down their arms. Although Cuba and Venezuela have publicly expressed their support of Colombia’s peace efforts, regional tensions remain high, especially when it comes to relations with the United States. For now, then, even if a peace agreement is signed, it does not mean that peace will prevail.

and,
Colombia’s Bet on Peace With Guerrillas President Santos explains why he is negotiating with the FARC.

The president is talking about a paradigm shift. “Many people are accustomed to the war but I don’t accept that,” he told me. “I think Colombia deserves to have peace and I am quite certain that we will achieve it.”

Part of his optimism stems from his conviction that the rebels “are weakened and they don’t have an alternative.” Actually they do have an alternative, which is to stay out in the jungle and die with their boots on. Still, Mr. Santos is the FARC guerrillas’ best hope for getting a deal that will offer them some leniency. Should he walk away or fail to win re-election in May, they are not likely to fare better under the next government.

Mr. Santos’s critics, including former president Alvaro Uribe, doubt the FARC’s good faith. As I reported in June, they also worry that the government will sacrifice justice for peace and will get neither.

As far as I can see,

  • The FARC are not interested in disbanding. To the contrary, they are seeking alliances with the ELN
  • The FARC are calling for a “restructuring of the Colombian state“, including a major redesign of the Colombian Constitution
  • The FARC are not interested in ceasing its operations as a drug crime entity
  • As the O’Grady article states, the FARC’s goal is “to force the government to designate the area an autonomous zone that it could control”
  • And, inspired by their Cuban hosts, they are in it for the long run.

What kind of peace, then, could these negotiations yield?

South American cocaine’s African routes

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

This will not come as a surprise to long-term readers of this blog: Al-Qaeda’s at the center of drug trafficking.

Revealed: how Saharan caravans of cocaine help to fund al-Qaeda in terrorists’ North African domain
The 37 foreign workers who died in the assault on an Algerian gas plant were victims of terrorists whose weapons may have been paid for by cocaine users of Britain and Europe, reports Colin Freeman.

Unlike their ancestors’ cargoes of spices, salts and silks, the contraband that Gao’s smugglers bring in today from Colombia is deemed strictly “haram”, or forbidden, by Islam.
Yet the city’s ever-zealous Islamist morality police have a good reason for turning a blind eye. For it is thanks to the trans-Saharan cocaine trade that Islamist groups like al-Qaeda have become a power in the region, building up formidable war chests to buy both arms and recruits.

The cocaine trade first exploded in this region five years ago, as Latino cartels, faced with a saturated market in the US, sought new routes to get their product to Europe’s borders. First the drug is shipped or flown across the Atlantic to lawless, corrupt coastal states like Guinea Bissau, then it is moved thousands of miles across the Sahara to Algeria, Morocco and Libya.

Now, though, the trade’s potential to wreak far wider havoc has become horrifyingly clear, in helping to bankroll the al-Qaeda movements behind both the Islamist take-over of northern Mali and the murder of western workers at the Algerian gas facility earlier this month.

The planes into Gao fly in directly from Venezuela, drugs’ #1 point of departure in Latin America.

In addition to the profiting, al-Qaeda terrorists use stimulants – cocaine, meth – during battle.

The war on terror and the war on drugs have joined into a new stage.

Read the whole report.