Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Colombia: Santos throws the towel

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Methinks he’s really hankering for a Nobel Peace Prize:
Colombian President Santos Seeks New Path on Drug War
Leader Says He Hopes for Breakthrough on Drug War in Peace Talks With FARC Guerrillas

The Colombian leader, who faces a critical re-election test in May, said that an important breakthrough in the war on drugs would be achieved if, as expected, negotiators for his government and for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, reach an agreement on stamping out drug trafficking by the guerrillas, the third point in a proposed peace plan.

The FARC, which the U.S. considers to be a terrorist and drug trafficking organization, relies heavily on cocaine trafficking to finance its activities. The two sides have been locked in tough negotiations for the last 17 months in Havana to end the five-decade guerrilla insurgency.

“I expect to reach an agreement on that third point in the near future,” he said. If the FARC stops drug trafficking and becomes a partner with the government in eradicating drugs, it would have “enormous implications repercussions for Colombia and the world,” he said.

It sounds like Santos believes that the FARC will throw away its hugely profitable main source of revenues, everybody will hold hands, and a choir of potheads stoned on legal pot will Kumbaya as peace breaks out all over the land.

Forgive my cynicism, dear reader, but I visualize a slightly different scenario: The FARC signs whatever agreement will get them into congress (since Santos wants them in congress without being elected), legalizes all its drug activities consolidating power, and Colombia kisses the rule of law good-bye.

Álvaro Uribe’s not buying Santos’s tripe:
Pres. Santos forgot to tell the BBC that he promised secure democracy and he has allowed terrorism to advance

Mexico’s Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Fascinating article in Popular Science on Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies
Inside the communications infrastructure of the ultraviolent syndicate

Why walkie-talkies? To enable communication even in locations without cellular service.

How Jose Luis Del Toro Estrada was tapped to develop the covert radio network also remains a mystery, but as his system grew, it supplied the Zetas with what’s called a command-and-control capacity. “It essentially linked all the different members of the cartel—the people doing the trafficking and the people doing the protection—so there was a communication between them,” says Pike, the DEA special agent. Armed with handheld radios, the cartel’s street-corner halcones, or hawks, could help commanders avoid arrest by alerting them whenever police set up checkpoints. A midlevel boss in Nuevo Laredo could monitor a semitruck carrying several tons of cocaine as it trundled across the border into Texas. Most crucially, Zetas gunmen could use the system to attack and seize plazas, or smuggling corridors, held by other drug gangs.

And,

The Zetas’ military training and ultraviolent tactics were crucial for propelling their rise to power, but one other factor was essential: After splitting from the Gulf Cartel, it was the Zetas who maintained control of the radio network.

Read the whole thing.

Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation and the Narco-Terrorist Connection

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Pedro Roig writes on Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation and the Narco-Terrorist Connection
Key Figures at the Head of the Oppressive Alliance

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Castro regime was in dire need of cash that would replace the Soviet subsidies. During this period, drug trafficking routes involving Nicaragua and Panama became prime operational areas. These drug trafficking links surfaced in the indictment against Carlos Lehder who admitted meeting with Raul Castro to coordinate drug shipments. Lehder also testified in the Southern District of Florida that Cuba controlled cocaine trafficking in Nicaragua.

The Cuba-Venezuela Drug-Trafficking Connection

In 1999, Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in Venezuela changed the Castro brother’s focus to South America. The Cuban government became not only interested in the large subsidies provided to them by Chávez’s government but also on the profitable drug trafficking routes already existent on the Colombia-Venezuela border. Cuba’s prior involvement in narcotics trafficking proved to be a valuable component in a growing partnership between Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels

Read the rest here.

You can read a transcript of Cuba and Cocaine here.

Mexico: How Chapo was nabbed

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


Alfredo Corchado, Mexico Bureau Chief for the Dallas Daily News, and one of the foremost experts in the subject, relates how Mexico nabs top drug kingpin in operation with U.S. without firing a shot. Also important is the timeline,

TIMELINE: Detentions and killings of reputed Mexican drug kingpins

Top Mexican drug cartel captures or killings in recent years:

SATURDAY: Authorities said Mexican and U.S. officials captured the world’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in the beach resort of Mazatlán.

JULY 15, 2013: Authorities in northern Mexico captured Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, alias “40,” leader of the brutal Zetas cartel.

OCT. 7, 2012: Mexican marines killed Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias “El Lazca,” a founder and top leader of the Zetas. His body was later stolen from a funeral home. Treviño Morales took over the Zetas.

OCT. 6, 2012: Mexican marines arrested alleged Zetas regional leader Salvador Alfonso Martínez Escobedo, who was suspected of involvement in massacres and the killing of U.S. citizen David Hartley in 2010 on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.

SEPT. 12, 2012: Mexican marines captured purported top Gulf cartel leader Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias “El Coss.” U.S. authorities had offered a $5 million reward for his arrest.

DEC. 9, 2010: Mexican federal police killed Nazario Moreno González, leader of La Familia Michoacana cartel, during a gunfight in the village of El Alcalde. His body was never recovered, and rumors have persisted that Moreno, known as “the Craziest One,” is still alive.

JULY 29, 2010: Mexican army troops raided a house in the town of Zapopán and killed Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, one of the top leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.

DEC. 16, 2009: Mexican marines killed Arturo Beltrán Leyva, leader of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, in a shootout in Cuernavaca.

Read the whole article, buy Corchado’s book.

Related:
Will El Chapo Rule From Prison?

Mexico: El Chapo caught

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

El Chapo, Most-Wanted Drug Lord, Is Captured in Mexico

Mr. Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel is considered the largest and most powerful trafficking organization in the world, with a reach as far as Europe and Asia, and has been a main combatant in a spasm of violence that has left tens of thousands dead in Mexico.

How investigators turned the screw on ‘El Chapo’

On Feb. 13, a man known as “19,” whom officials called the new chief of assassins for Zambada, was arrested with two other men on the highway to the coastal resort city of Mazatlan. Four days later, a man described as a member of the Sinaloa cartel’s upper ranks was seized along with 4,000 hollowed-out cucumbers and bananas stuffed with cocaine. In the middle of this week, a 43-year-old known by the nickname “20″ and described as Zambada’s chief of security, was arrested transporting more cocaine-stuffed produce.

By the middle of the week at least 10 Sinaloa henchmen had been seized.

A U.S. law enforcement official said Saturday that at least some were actually security for Guzman, and authorities used them to obtain information that helped lead to the head of the cartel.

The article says that US DEA and Marshals Service were “heavily involved” in the capture.

As Allies Fell, Noose Closed on ‘El Chapo’ Guzman

Mexico: Michoacán vigilantes to join with police

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

and El Tio, one of the Knights Templar bosses, was arrested,
Mexico Reaches Pact With Vigilante Groups
Self-Defense Groups in Michoacán State Agree to Join Rural, Town Police as Security Forces Capture a Top Cartel Leader

Since the government intervened two weeks ago, federal forces have detained more than 100 people, but the detainees hadn’t included any of the top leaders of the Knights Templar, which takes its name from a medieval organization of crusading warrior monks. The vigilantes have demanded the government capture the Templars’ top leaders as a prerequisite for their laying down their arms.

Aside from their drug profits, the Knights Templar made tens of millions of dollars from extorting Michoacán’s lime and avocado growers, cattlemen, hoteliers and other businessmen. Many of the state’s towns and cities were forced to give a 10% cut of their budget to the criminal organization, local officials say.

El Tío, Dionisio Loya Plancarte, is not to be confused with this other Tío,

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Catholic priests, with the encouragement of their bishop, are actively encouraging people to fight the Knights Templars:
Priests take the lead in fierce revolt against drug gang in Mexico’s Michoacan

The anger of the clergy is aimed with equal vehemence at gangsters and at government officials, who they say have not done enough to rein in crime and extortion. That vexation will get a vast airing at morning Mass this Sunday, when priests across the Apatzingan diocese will read a scathing pastoral letter from Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez that accuses federal police and soldiers of doing little to capture Knights Templar bosses.

“Their leaders are fully identified and yet no authority stops them,” the letter says.

In his letter, Patino evokes the Nazi era, saying Christian believers should not only console the victims but also halt the Nazi campaign to kill its enemies.

“We ask politicians, the government and the Interior Secretariat to give people of our region clear signals that in reality they want to halt the ‘killing machine,’” Patino writes.

The vigilantes are fighting against corruption,

Since February 2013, a vigilante campaign by armed civilians has spread across nearly a third of Michoacan. The vigilantes call themselves self-defense groups or community police, and they have won broad citizen support from nearly everyone, from large farm owners down to tortilla vendors and doormen at public restrooms.

In barely 11 months, the vigilantes have occupied at least 15 townships. In each, they have disbanded municipal police and run off politicians believed linked to organized crime

As you may recall, the government clashed with the militia last week.

It’ll be interesting to see how it develops. Will the militia turn into criminal paramilitary groups, as the did in Colombia? Or will they clean up Michoacan?


Mexico: Military clash with cartel-fighting militias

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

In Michoacán state, militias fighting the Knights Templar cartel get smashed by the government.

Mexico Confronts Cartel-Fighting Militias
The Mexican military confronted armed vigilantes that had organized to repel a crime cartel from their rural southern state, Michoacán, in deadly clashes on Tuesday.

There were no reports on arrests or confrontations with cartel members on Tuesday, prompting some confusion among Michoacán residents over why the military seemed determined to disarm the militias but not the cartel. Others were concerned over the vulnerability of unarmed and readily identifiable militia members if Knights Templar members seek to retaliate.

A spokesman for the vigilantes, Estanislao Beltrán, said during a news conference that Tuesday’s confrontation began when soldiers who had confiscated weapons from the militias in the town of Antúnez were blocked by townspeople.

It was unclear how many people died during the morning clash. Mexican media, citing unofficial accounts by the military, put the number at two, while Mr. Beltrán said four had died.

Interestingly, the attack on the militia coincides with this:

In recent days the vigilante groups appeared to gain the advantage over the cartel. On Sunday, they entered Nueva Italia and encircled Apatzingán, the town of 100,000 where the cartel is based.

Mexico has some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the hemisphere.

Was it John Adams who said, “An armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject”?

Related:
Militia Mayhem for Mexico

En español: Fausto Vallejo, gobernador de Michoacán, en la unidad de quemados,


Colombia: Maicao, Hezbollah money-laundering center

Friday, December 20th, 2013

In the Colombia-Venezuela border town of Maicao, which is also near the Caribbean and has a free-trade zone and the third-largest mosque in the Americas, Hezbollah financing evolves beyond Colombia’s Muslim communities

Today, Hezbollah is the most powerful political movement in Lebanon — and its influence stretches all the way to Maicao. Each year, millions of dollars of drug money are laundered in Maicao, where some community members openly proclaim their support for Hezbollah. Recent U.S. Treasury Department actions have slowed the flow of cash to terrorist groups, but financiers have fled and new networks have reconstituted that are harder to identify.

This mirrors, as Spain’s ABC has reported, chavismo’s alliance with the FARC Colombian guerrilla becoming an essential factor of the illegal trade,

The way it works is a money launderer today may work for 5-10 different drug trafficking groups. Those groups in turn pay taxes or fees to terrorist groups to operate in their territories, proliferating terrorism and violence in Colombia and the Middle East. Likewise, sympathizing launderers may make sizable voluntary donations to Hezbollah.

The article states,

The launderers may not even realize they are ultimately funding terrorism organizations.

And yet, “the conversation switches to Arabic when it involves transferring drug money to terrorist groups abroad.”

It makes perfect sense for Maicao to be a location for this:

  • a commercial center because of its free-trade zone,
  • large Muslim population where Hezbollah operatives may go unnoticed
  • geographic location near both the Caribbean and Venezuela, the departing point for much of the drugs.

I wonder how this fits in with the FARC negotiations in Havana, considering the links to Colombia’s FARC, El Salvador’s FMNL, and their connection to Hezbollah.


Uruguay: UN says pot law against international law

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

As you may recall, Uruguay is the first country in the world to legalize the production and mass distribution of marijuana.

Boz points out, that, while keeping mum on Cuba’s human rights abuses,

It took exactly one day for the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to announce that Uruguay’s new marijuana regulations are against international law.

But the news on marijuana is not good: Marijuana linked to brain-related memory woes, schizophrenia risk in teens

They found changes in gray matter areas of the brain associated with working memory, which is the ability to process information and transfer it to long-term memory, if needed. Gray matter is rich in neurons (nerve cells) and plays a role in routing signals to areas responsible for numerous functions like memory and movement.

Additionally,

Marijuana likely increases the risk of testicular cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, a type of brain tumor, and the risk of leukemia in the offspring of women who use it during pregnancy.

Keep that in mind if you’re a user.

But back to Uruguay,
Uruguay opposition demands marijuana referendum
Last minute opposition to Uruguay’s plans to legalise sale and consumption of marijuana

The rationale for the legalization “experiment” – as President Lugo calls it – is that government intervention will regulate the market.
Like the drug itself, we’ll yet find out what the side effects are.