Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Bolivia: 27 tons of ground coca seized on their way to Lebanon

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Last week I posted on Argentina as the #3 drug shipping link.

Today, Bolivian media report that 27 tons of ground coca leaves disguised as mate were seized by authorities.

The final destination? Lebanon.

Apparently the ground coke was going to be shipped from a Chilean – not Argentinian – port.

The only use for ground coca leaves is cocaine production.

A Bolivian government minister stated that this is the first time authorities seize ground coca leaves meant to be processed into cocaine outside the country. He estimated that the $350,000 ground coke would have a street value of over $90million.

Considering the political landscape in the Middle East, would it be unreasonable to assume Hezbollah is involved?

[Post edited for clarity]

Argentina: #3 port of departure for Europe’s cocaine?

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Alejandro Rebossio of Spain’s El País reports that Pope Francis’s comment on “Mexicanization” was prompted by UN data showing Argentina as the country with the third-largest number of seized cocaine shipments, after Brazil and Colombia.

The cocaine route starts in Colombia and Peru, makes a layover in Bolivia, and is processed in Argentina, where some of it is consumed, while most is exported to Europe.

Gustavo Vera also mentioned, in his emails to Pope Francis, that Argentina has the highest per-capita cocaine consumption in Latin America.

You can read Rebossio’s article here (in Spanish).

Venezuela: The talking bodyguard

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Leamsy Salazar, former bodyguard of Hugo Chávez and Diosdado Cabello, is in New York and talking:
Bodyguard Outs Diosdado Cabello as Drug Cartel Chief
Chavismo’s Number Two Security Official in New York to Testify with DEA

Salazar has already testified that Cabello heads up the Soles cartel, a criminal organization that monopolized drug trafficking within the country, according to sources involved in the case.

An post shared on Twitter by Ramón Pérez-Maura, an ABC journalist covering the case, stated that Salazar’s testimony had also linked Cuba with the country’s narcotrafficking trade, “offering protection to certain routes along which drugs were brought to Venezuela from the United States.”

Pérez-Maura‘s colleague in New York Emili J. Blasco added further details that Cabello gave direct orders for the distribution of illicit substances, and that Salazar knew of locations where the accused “keeps mountains of dollar bills.”

Interamerican Security Watch translated a report from Spain’s ABC (emphasis added),

The Cartel of the Suns, primarily composed of members of the military (its name comes from the insignia worn on the uniform of Venezuelan generals), has a drug trafficking monopoly in Venezuela. The drugs are produced by the Colombian FARC [Fuerzas Revolucionarias de Colombia guerrillas] and taken to their destinations in the U.S. and Europe by Mexican cartels. Recent international figures indicate that Venezuela ships five tons of narcotics on a weekly basis. Ninety percent of the drugs produced by Colombia transits Venezuela.
. . .
In his revelations, Salazar also implicates the governor of Aragua state, Tarek el Aissami, who also has links with Islamic networks, and José David Cabello, brother of the National Assembly president, who for several years served as director of SENIAT [tax agency] and minister of industry. José David Cabello is allegedly responsible for the finances of the Cartel of the Suns. Salazar mentions that [the state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela] PDVSA is a money-laundering machine (sic). PDVSA’s former president from 2004 to 2014, Rafael Ramirez, was appointed in December as Venezuela’s ambassador before the U.N. Security Council.
. . .
Regarding the links with Havana, Salazar mentioned the regular use of PDVSA aircraft to transport drugs. A son of Chávez’s and a son of former Cuban ambassador in Caracas, Germán Sánchez Otero, organized these shipments. Other Cuban officials are mentioned as part of the scheme. The final destination of these shipments was the United States.

Caracas Chronicles has more on The Bodyguard.

In Latin America, drugs, terrorism and crime are threads of one fabric.

And paying for the Bolivarian Revolution is not cheap.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Stones Cry Out. Thank you!
Linked to by Pseudo-Polymath. Thank you!

Mexico: Gulf Cartel run from Texas

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Which should come as no surprise,
THREE MEXICAN CARTEL LEADERS CAUGHT IN TEXAS SINCE OCTOBER

A Tamaulipas law enforcement official who spoke with Breitbart Texas said the Gulf Cartel is undergoing a hostile takeover of sorts where a faction of old timer’s that include Gulf Cartel members and original Zetas is moving in trying to run out the younger inexperienced crowd.

“The younger ones are the ones doing all sort of crazy stunts kidnappings, extortion and such,” the official said. “The old timers claim to want to bring peace or at least that’s what they claim.”

The claims were made through a communiqué published by Breitbart Texas where the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel claim to make peace and plan on restoring peace so they can focus on their business without disturbing the public.

People tend to confuse the definition of cartel when used in the drug trade. Cartel, in economics, means

An organization created from a formal agreement between a group of producers of a good or service, to regulate supply in an effort to regulate or manipulate prices. A cartel is a collection of businesses or countries that act together as a single producer and agree to influence prices for certain goods and services by controlling production and marketing. A cartel has less command over an industry than a monopoly – a situation where a single group or company owns all or nearly all of a given product or service’s market. In the United States, cartels are illegal; however, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – the world’s largest cartel – is protected by U.S. foreign trade laws.

In the drug trade, however, Wikipedia has it right (emphasis added),

A drug cartel is any criminal organization developed with the primary purpose of promoting and controlling drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking organizations reached an agreement to coordinate the production and distribution of cocaine. Since that agreement was broken up, drug cartels are no longer actually cartels, but the term stuck and it is now popularly used to refer to any criminal narcotics related organization, such as those in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Japan, Italy, France, United States, Colombia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Click on the map for an interactive map of the Mexican cartels:

Colombia: FARC using al-Qaeda for European drug trade

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Via Álvaro Uribe’s tweet,

FARC using al-Qaeda networks to bring in cocaine in Sahel FARC-coke-al-Qaeda

The EFE article (in Spanish, my translation) FARC Using al-Qaeda Networks to Bring in Cocaine in Sahel

The FARC attempt to bring cocaine into Europe through the Sahel [note: a band of desert stretching across Africa – from Senegal in the West to Eritrea in the East], and are relying on Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) networks active on the Argelia, Mali and Mauritania border, according to Monday’s Al Massae Moroccan newspaper.

The newspaper, quoting an official report, explains that the FARC use the Sahel as springboard to Europe, after entering through Argelia and Morocco.

According to sources, AQIM charges the FARC a 15% “tax” on the cocaine value to guarantee a sage passage through the vast area it controls from the Western Sahara to north Mali, Mauritania y Argelia.

This alleged collusion between the FARC and AQIM translates into heavier weapons traffic in the zone, believed to be paid by the drug trade.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has gone on the record supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

The Telegraph has an interactive Al-Qaeda map: Isis, Boko Haram and other affiliates’ strongholds across Africa and Asia

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb
Operates in the Saharan countries – mainly in southern Algeria and Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. Formed from a hard-core of fighters involved in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s, in which Islamist fighters took arms after a democratically-elected Islamic government was ousted. Briefly set up its own fiefdom in northern Mali in 2012, before being ousted by French-led security force in January 2013. Makes a living by kidnapping foreigners, earning an estimated $60m from ransoms in the last decade.

And Colombia’s president wants unelected FARC members in the Senate, and broadening the definition of “political crime” to include drug trafficking, but only for FARC members.

[Post corrected for more accurate translation.]



Colombia: Peace at all costs?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Former president, now senator, Álvaro Uribe has been keeping track of the FARC casualty list during the peace talks:

FARCMETER (on peace talks) Attacks: 842,
Civilians wounded: 326, murdered: 105,
FARC wounded: 726, murdered: 650,
Kidnappings: 71

But president Juan Manuel Santos is intent on leaving a legacy as the president who ended “the longest-running conflict in the hemisphere.” Cynic that I am, he’s probably hankering for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Now he’s proposing broadening the definition of “political crime” to include drug trafficking, but only for FARC members. Mary O’Grady explains,

Not all drug traffickers would be eligible to have their crimes reclassified, he said. Instead the proposal would be a sweetener offered by the government “specifically” for the narco-terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the peace talks, now in their fourth year in Havana. The idea, he said, is to prepare for “the day that members of FARC want to participate in politics.”

The negotiations, which were supposed to last a year, have gone on for 40 months, which gives the Cubans plenty to work on,

Cuba is notorious for 24/7 surveillance of influential visitors. The home-court advantage allows it to psychologically evaluate Colombian negotiators, study their weaknesses and develop relationships of trust to manipulate them. The KGB also taught the Cubans to recognize, and make use of, excessive personal ambition, Mr. García said.

Mr. Santos has not hidden his yearning for a deal that would be labeled the end of the longest-running conflict in the hemisphere. It’s hard to ignore the possibility that Cuba and the FARC are toying with the president’s ego.

Fifteen months ago, Santos was saying he was amenable to granting unelected guerrilla leaders seats in Congress. He has become enough of a tool to destroy democracy in the process.

Mexico: Remains of #Ayotzinapa students found

Saturday, November 8th, 2014


Demonstrators last month

Mexican Official: Remains Believed to Be Students Found
Investigators have found the incinerated remains they believe belong to the missing 43 students who were allegedly abducted by police and handed over to a local drug gang to be executed, Mexico’s attorney general said.

The remains will be sent to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, which officials said had the most advanced forensics laboratory, for further attempts at identification. Because of the extent of the incineration, Mr. Murillo Karam said he set no deadline.

Mexico missing student: Gang members ‘confess’ to killing 43 in Iguala and burning their bodies

Mexico: 22,000 missing, 43 of them are the #Ayotzinapa students

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

#HastaEncontrarlos

I have been blogging about the 43 student teachers missing since September 26, but, as I pointed out in yesterday’s podcast, they are only a few of the thousands missing/killed by the drug cartels.

How many?
At least 22,000:

But searchers have found plenty of other horrors, including a string of mass graves with 50 unidentified victims that DNA tests show are not the students. Most of those victims were chopped into bits and set on fire.

As the discovery of the other grave sites shows, the mystery of the missing students isn’t an isolated case. The Mexican government estimates more than 22,000 people went “missing” during the last eight years of violence here between cartels fighting each other and security forces. Human-rights groups say the toll could be far higher.

If most of those missing are dead, as rights groups fear, that would significantly raise Mexico’s already staggering death toll of some 100,000 drug-related homicides during the past eight years by more than a fifth.

Before you blame the war on drugs, bear in mind that the cartels (sometimes with the help of the authorities) are killing each other and whoever dares to speak against them:

Mexico’s missing is a somewhat different phenomenon. Here, the crimes tend to be more about money than ideology. Drug and kidnapping gangs have perpetrated most of Mexico’s disappearances, officials say. But, if investigators’ version of events holds true, the case of students shows the line between organized crime and government security forces can be thin.

Disappearing victims has long been a strategy of the warring gangs, who earn the bulk of their income trafficking marijuana and methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine to U.S. consumers.

Someone knows where the 43 students are, but no one is talking.

In other headlines,
Mexico’s 43 Missing Students: Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca ‘Murdered Political Rival’; additionally,

Abarca has been accused in the past of direct participation in torture and murders of activists, while his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa has links to gangs as members of her family (at least three brothers) are part of the Beltrán Leyva drugcartel.

Mexico: 43 students missing since September 26

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

#HastaEncontrarlos

Vigilantes in Mexico students search
Hundreds of members of self-defence groups join the search in the Mexican town of Iguala for 43 missing students who disappeared almost two weeks ago.
None of the missing are known to have crime connections:

The students, from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, travelled to the nearby town of Iguala to protest against what they perceived as discriminatory hiring practices for teachers.

After a day of protests and fundraising, they wanted to make their way back to their college.

Accounts of what happened next differ.

Members of the student union say they hitched a lift aboard three local buses, but the police says the students seized the buses.

In the hours which followed, six people were killed when armed men opened fire on the three buses and that of a third division football team which they presumably mistook for one carrying students.

Three students, a footballer, the driver of one of the buses and a woman in a taxi were shot dead. Many more were injured.

Municipal police gave chase to the students, and are believed to have fired at them.

Twenty-two officers have been detained in connection with the shooting.

But there are also reports of other armed men opening fire on the students. Eight people not belonging to the municipal police have also been arrested.

Disappearance
Following the incident on the night of 26 September, 57 students were reported missing.

On 30 September it was announced that 13 of them had returned to their homes.

One name was found to have appeared in the list of the missing twice, leaving 43 students unaccounted for.

On 4 October, prosecutors announced they had found six shallow graves containing the remains of at least 28 people.

Authorities are investigating the possible involvement of a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors, a pun, since the state’s name is Guerrero), led by a thug nicknamed El Chucky, and are affiliated with the Beltran Leyva cartel. Additionally, Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, and the police chief have not been seen since the events on 26 September. However, so far the biggest suspect is Mexico’s Police

The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala — the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred — containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies.

The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang. Two witnesses in custody told prosecutors that the gang then killed the protesters on the orders of a leader known as El Chucky.

According to witnesses

More police officers arrived, accompanied by gunmen in plainclothes. Prosecutors have now identified these shooters as members of a cell of assassins called “Guerreros Unidos” or “Warriors United,” who work for the Beltran Leyva cartel. The cartel’s head Hector Beltran Leyva was arrested last week following the incident.

Federal agents are now in charge instead of local police.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to identify and punish those responsible for the recent disappearance of 43 students after clashes with police.

On one front, the September 26 murders of six people in Iguala, Guerrero, has plunged the conflict-ridden state south of Mexico City into renewed political turmoil.

Paco Almaraz features the governor of the state of Guerrero in the burn-out unit (in Spanish),



Mexico: La Tuta’s newest YouTube

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Knights templar chief Servando Gómez “La Tuta” (the teacher) has a new one,

Video shows Mexican drug lord paying journalists for ‘good press’

The video, which was published yesterday by Mexican news site MVS, shows two reporters from Mexico’s troubled Michoacan state appearing to accept money from one of the country’s most wanted drug lords, Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar Cartel. The men then discuss a “communication strategy” to improve the cartel’s image and are heard asking for trucks and cameras.

The handoff occurs at the: 22:56 mark

An offer they really could not refuse.