Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Mexico: Murders on the rise at the capital

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Would it be unfair to call Mexico a “functional narcostate”? (amongst all its disfunction, that is)

Rise in Violent Crime Shakes Mexico City. Increase in murders in capital stokes fears that brutal drug gangs have grabbed foothold (emphasis added)

The Federal District, home to some nine million of the 20 million inhabitants in the Mexico City metropolitan area, saw homicides rise 21% to 566 in the first eight months of this year, according to Interior Ministry data released last week, putting the capital’s murder rate at its highest level over the same period since 1998.
. . .
The increase in murders in Mexico City has contributed to a nationwide rise in homicide for the first time since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power in late 2012, months after the rate of killings linked to the country’s murderous drug war began to fall.

During the first eight months of this year, murders rose 5% nationwide. August was the fourth consecutive month in which the murder rate increased.

The rising toll is a big challenge for Mr. Peña Nieto, whose administration had trumpeted the decline in murders over the past two years as proof that the government’s security initiatives, such as improved coordination between crime-fighting agencies like the army and federal police, were working.

Raúl Toledo, a security consultant and former city official, said the rise in Mexico City’s crime rate coincides with estimates by local authorities of a 17% increase in drug consumption in the capital over the past three years.

Latin American countries are prone to deny the existence of drug use among their citizenry. Yet it exists.

And of course they also deny the existence of organized crime.

A Mexico City judge has sentenced three men to 520 years in jail each for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of 13 young people two years ago.

Mexico: 1 body identified, 1 suspect in, on #Ayotzinapa investigation

Friday, September 18th, 2015

News breaking this week on the 43 disappeared students:

Mexico Captures Alleged Gang Member Linked to Student Disappearances. Gildardo López Astudillo, nicknamed ‘El Gil,’ said by authorities to have incinerated bodies

Authorities say alleged members of the gang known as Guerreros Unidos testified that Mr. López was in charge of the operation to incinerate the bodies of the 43 students, who were mistaken as members of a rival gang, according to the official investigation.

Guerreros Unidos and rival Los Rojos operate in Guerrero, a center for heroin production. Numerous members of the Guerreros Unidos have been taken into custody and charged. Some of those arrested had originally confessed to the crimes but later recanted, while others have denied any wrongdoing.


Mexico Says More Remains Identified from Student Killings. Government says experts identify second teachers college student from among 43 reported killed in Guerrero

Prosecutors say the students, who had commandeered long-haul passenger buses to travel to Mexico City for a planned demonstration, were mistaken as members of a rival drug gang.

More than 100 people have been detained as part of the investigation and some of them were later charged with various crimes.

The Inter-American group of experts said forensic evidence suggests such a massive fire never took place in the landfill.

Although government officials said they would review the investigation and take into account the Inter-American experts’ report, several senior Mexican prosecutors have defended the initial conclusions.

Ms. Gómez, the Attorney General, said Wednesday that she has ordered the formation of a team of experts to study more than 63,000 fragments of remains recovered from the dump and the river for viable DNA samples, and that experts of the Inter-American group could join that team.

Odds are this will take years to resolve, and it’s very likely the guilty will not serve time

Only 4.5% of reported crimes in Mexico are ever investigated and just 1% ever go before a judge, according to a recent study by Mexico’s National Autonomous University. The criminal conviction rate in Mexico is 1.8%.

Mexico: A fifth bus on the Iguala students case

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

42 student teachers have been missing in Mexico for nearly a year.

Authorities had previously identified the remains of 1, out of the 43 students from a rural teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa who traveled to Iguala in four buses.

Now the Discovery of ‘fifth’ bus adds to mystery of Iguala missing students case. OAS says Mexican authorities did not probe key vehicle that may have been carrying heroin

Experts commissioned by the OAS say there was a fifth bus at the scene of the crime and, despite the fact that there were students on it, it was never attacked. Armed police stopped the vehicle and the students ran off into the hills, the report says. Mexican officials considered the vehicle an insubstantial piece of evidence and failed to mention it in their report.

OAS experts now think the fifth bus was in fact an important part of the case. The organization believe that it may have concealed a shipment of heroin, the main drug trafficked in Guerrero, which feeds the United States black market.

The plot thickens while the authorities waffle:

OAS experts say the students probably took the vehicle from the bus terminal to travel to an event in Mexico City commemorating the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre without being aware of the hidden cargo. And that this fact was fully known by those who did not want that bus to make it to the march.

The problem for the commission was that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) had not considered the bus an object of its investigation. Although the bus had been “recorded” in the report, it was given scant consideration.

The article has much more, but one thing remains clear: Somebody – most likely at the PGR- doesn’t want the truth to come out.

In other Mexican drug news, a doctor would lose his license for prescribing medical marihuana.

Bolivia: The catch in the numbers

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Mac Margolis at Bloomberg writes about Bolivia’s Hollow Victory in the War on Drugs

Last week the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime turned some heads. In a much-publicized press conference in La Paz, the UN announced Bolivia had reduced the amount of land planted with coca — the waxy leafed bush from which cocaine is made — for the fourth year running.

So far, so good, but (emphasis added),

Soon after the UN announced its survey, critics noted that the report focused on the coca leaf but omitted data on how much of the crop is being converted to cocaine. And without that data, the heralded fall in coca may be an optical illusion.

When it comes to trafficking and transport of cocaine,

One yardstick for the problem is the almost sevenfold rise in arrests for drug possession, up from 238 in 2000 to 1,456 in 2012, the last complete year for which Bolivia’s National Statistics Office has published statistics.

Another is the spiking volume of drugs seized by police: from 1,300 kilos of cocaine in 2005 to 4,175 kilos in 2012, according to the same census.

. . .

Former national drug control minister Ernesto Justiniano told a nationwide television show last week that Bolivia’s cocaine production amounts to a staggering 160 tons a year, double the figure for 2008.

Double. In seven years.

And the cartels are branching out: Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia now sits alongside the second biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world: Brazil. Bolivia also borders the world’s principal producer of cocaine, Peru, and South America’s primary producer of marijuana, Paraguay. Meanwhile, Argentina is experiencing ballooning domestic drug consumption, particularly of “basuco” or “paco,” a form of crack cocaine which can be produced in Bolivia. Even the domestic drug markets in Chile and Peru are growing.

Read both articles.

Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

(See Argentina’s Cabinet Chief Refutes Drug Trafficking Allegations as Extortion

With a week to go for the primaries in Argentina, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez was accused of involvement in drug trafficking by those implicated in ephedrine trafficking in a television program, Periodismo para Todos (Journalism for Everyone), or PPT.)

Here’s Lanata’s Sunday show of Aug. 2 (in Spanish but NSFW),

Full show here,

Following which, Police: Lanata building damaged during street fight

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Not only did he tunnel out, ‘El Chapo’ Ally Tunneled Out Months Before

Nearly 14 months before crime boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from his maximum-security cell through a tunnel, one of his Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants broke out of another prison in the same way. (emphasis added)

The passage through which Adelmo Niebla González and two underlings busted out of a prison in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa state, in May 2014 shared many of the same technological and building styles.


We’re talking about a cartel known for its elaborate tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border, but Mexican authorities put them all on ground-floor because,

“No one can say it was obvious this would have happened,” Mr. Rubido, whose more than three decades included several stints as Mexico’s top spy chief, said of Mr. Guzmán’s escape.

How do you spell c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n . . .

Hey, how about an open border!

At Breakfast to Talk El Chapo, Drug War Veterans Serve Up Cynicism

Over eggs at a San Antonio café, a reporter listens as former law enforcement officials and one ex-drug cartel operative swap theories about El Chapo’s latest escape and what it says about the U.S. and Mexico

Sinaloa became the McDonald’s of the drug trade. Customers could find its products — cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines — everywhere. Operations ran so smoothly that after Chapo’s arrest in February 2014, many experts predicted that they’d continue to hum along without him. However, hopes ran high in the United States and Mexico that Chapo’s arrest would herald a new era of trust between the two governments. The arrest was seen as a sign that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was serious about ending a long history of government corruption, and that Washington, after some skepticism, could trust him.

Chapo’s latest spectacular escape seems to have put an end to any such illusions.

El Chapo’s new song: Gimme shelter

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

BREAKING: Joaquin “#ElChapo” Guzman Offers $10 Million To Any U.S. Citizen Who Provides Shelter For Him

“It’s time for us to ban together to protect El Chapo. It’s important for our people to remain strong through the American media disrespecting our people and culture. El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people.

The Sinaloa Cartel, with permission from El Chapo, is offering $15 Million Dollars to any Mexican-American willing to provide a safe haven for El Chapo. We will give $10 Million Dollars to any other American person willing to assist El Chapo, and $7 Million Dollars to anyone who can successfully get El Chapo across the Mexican-American border without detection. Send this message to everyone affiliated.”

Interesting nationalistic wording (“El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people“) aside, the announcement leads to conjecture on what factors may be behind it:

  • El Chapo’s already in the U.S. and the announcement is a red herring
  • El Chapo’s US$10 million offer counters the Mexican government’s 60 million pesos  reward (almost US$4 million) to show who’s boss
  • The person(s) running top day-to-day operations are not too willing to relinquish their positions of power
  • Competing cartels (Zetas, Nueva Generación, etc.) may not want him back in action and be heating things up enough to make him/his organization want to get him out of the country
  • El Chapo may have decided to move closer to where the consumer is
  • Mexican authorities may have abetted his escape on the condition that he leave the country

None of these are mutually exclusive.

Plus, of course,

there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Sing it, Mick!

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Mexico: Oh look, they did tape El Chapo’s exit

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

As you may recall, two days ago Mexican authorities said there were no cameras in El Chapo’s shower. The implication was that there was no video of his exiting the cell.

Oh look, they did tape El Chapo’s exit:

This ain’t exactly Shawshank Redemption

When prisoners manage to tunnel out of their confinement, their tunnels are rudimentary, dangerous, and short. This tunnel resembles those that cross the US-Mexico border, or those in Gaza leading into southern Israel. It’s clear that a number of people tunneled in to get Guzman out, and those people spent a lot of money to do so. Guzman wasn’t going to be able to install electricity and ventilation, after all.

Indeed, the LA Times calls the tunnel “a minor engineering masterpiece“.

Another corrido names him King of the Tunnel,

El gobierno mexicano
muy fácil es de comprarlo
[It’s very easy to buy off the Mexican government]

Speaking of which, Drug Kingpin’s Escape Sets Back Mexican Leader
Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s jail break caps a run of bad news for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

The Mexican government set a $3.8million reward on El Chapo’s capture. What was the old saying, closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?

Today’s Capt. Louis Renault moment brought to you by El Chapo

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

El Chapo escaped through a tunnel

Drug lord Chapo Guzman tunnels out of maximum-security Mexico prison

Guzman slipped out of the prison through a rectangular passage in the shower area of his cell that led to a nearly mile-long tunnel running underneath the prison

What does that remind me of?

Colombia: FARC blows up oil pipeline

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

This week the FARC attacked Colombia’s oil infrastructure, the major way the Colombian economy is not held hostage by the narco-terrorist group. The worst attack was an explosion at a pipeline in the southeastern Nariño province.

FARC attack caused Colombia’s ‘biggest environmental disaster in 10 years’

A FARC attack on an oil pipeline in the southwest of Colombia has caused the country’s biggest environmental disaster in the past decade, said the country’s environment Minister on Thursday.

Alleged FARC rebels blew up a pipeline in the southeastern Nariño province on Monday, causing the spilling of more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil into nearby rivers, streams and mangroves.
. . .
Not only does the oil threaten the local ecosystem, it has cut off the water supply of the approximately 160,000 inhabitants of the town of Tumaco who depend on the polluted waters for their drinking water.

Rebel attacks on oil sites threaten peace talks in Colombia (emphasis added)

The FARC’s motive is thought to be a show of strength to force the government to agree to a bilateral cease-fire, something the Santos government has refused to do until a overall peace agreement has been signed, said Bruce Bagley, a Colombia specialist at the University of Miami.
. . .
Adam Isacson, a Colombia researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank in Washington, said that despite the upsurge in violence, the odds are good that the peace talks will continue, noting that slow but incremental progress has been made. But the future hinges on whether the attacks continue.

The talks have stalled over the issue of

whether FARC commanders will stand trial and serve prison time for crimes against humanity, a prospect the rebels reject.

To an outsider like myself, the latest actions from the FARC make the answer to that crystal-clear.