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Latin America's cartels build their own arms industry

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

narco-tankYet more grim evidence emerged this week that Mexico's warring cartels are becoming a real military force and underground parallel state in the country's lawless northeast. Small Wars Journal on Feb. 13 noted a press release from the Mexican attorney general's office, the PGR, announcing that federal police and army troops had raided a winery near Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, where 13 vehicles were being fitted with armor plating. Small Wars Journal calls it a "narco-tank factory." A huge amount of ammunition was also confiscated in the raid, although it seems the people who were running the workshop all escaped. The PGR said they believe the makeshift factory was being run by the Gulf Cartel.

Mexico cracks down on narco-oil

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoIn an open acknowledgement that it cannot secure its pipeline system from plunder by criminal gangs, Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex announced Feb. 18 that it will no longer pump refined gasoline and diesel through the duct network. Mexico lost $1.14 billion last year to pipeline thefts last year—a 70% increase over the previous year. This is an ominous sign that the drug cartels are becoming the real power on the ground throughout much of the country, and are moving beyond their mainstays of illicit substances to contraband control of legal commodities like oil and minerals, establishing a virtual parallel economy. Pemex will now only be sending "unfinished" fuel through its more than 14,000 kilometers of pipeline, reported El Universal. The company said in a statement: "Customers should make sure that the fuel they buy has been delivered from Pemex terminals, and not buy gasoline or diesel from anyone other than gas stations or authorized dealers, given that...it could damage motors."

Will Burma opium war draw in China?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIn another grim signal of a widening war in northern Burma's opium zones, last week saw an outbreak of intense fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels, prompting some 50,000 Kokang civilians to flee across the border to China. The clashes at the town of Laukkai (also rendered Laogai), Shan state, saw government air-strikes and helicopter strafing on villages controlled by the Kokang rebel group, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and two allied militias. Some 50 government troops have been killed in the fighting, and soliders have recovered the bodies of several rebels. A line of refugees 10 kilometers long has reportedly piled up at the Chinese border crossing of Nansan. (AP, Feb. 14; Democratic Voice of Burma, Feb. 12; The Irrawady, Feb. 11)

US legalization initiatives and the Mexican cartels: good news or bad?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

MexicoIs the relieved pressure on cannabis in the United States undermining the Mexican cartels, as we'd long hoped? There are encouraging sigs. Global Post cites a new report by California cannabis industry think-tank The ArcView Group finding that legal marijuana sales jumped 74% in 2014 to a new high of $2.7 billion—a growth pace expected to continue for several more years. And Mexican producers may be taking the hit. In 2014, the US Border Patrol saw a plunge in pot seizures—1.9 million pounds, down 24% from 2011, the year before Colorado and Washington voted to legalize.  

Taiwan descending into drug war dystopia?

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

East AsiaIt's the kind of headline we're more used to seeing from Mexico or Brazil. On Feb. 11, Taiwan's Kaohsiung prison exploded into violence as inmates took two guards hostage and seized rifles and other weapons, starting a 14-hour stand-off in which the facility was surrounded by police troops. It ended when six of the rebel inmates killed themselves, according to authorities. 

ISIS on meth: evidence mounts

Posted on February 11th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ISISOK, some of the sources have axes to grind, but claims are mounting that the ultra-puritanical ISIS are stoned out of their minds on meth. Reuters reported last month that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has noted a surge in trafficking across the Middle East of Captagon, brand-name of fenethylline—an amphetamine notorious for its popularity among militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. Black-market knock-offs of the stuff are being produced by armed factions in Syria, both to fund their insurgencies and for their own fighters' use. Reuters said, "Syrian government forces and rebel groups each say the other uses Captagon to endure protracted engagements without sleep." We're sure they're both right.

Napalm Death frontman to Indonesia: don't execute grandma!

Posted on February 7th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIndonesia, facing global criticism over a spate of executions of foreigners on drug charges, is now under pressure from the grindcore lobby. The Independent reported Feb. 3 that Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway is personally petitioning President Joko Widodo for clemency—taking advantage of the fact that His Excellency Widodo is an avid fan. (The Independent amusingly shows him wearing a Napalm Death T-shit.) Last month, Greenway appealed in the case of two Australian members of the "Bali Nine," Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, facing execution on a heroin trafficking charge. Chan and Sukumaran are apparently also metal fans, and Greenway is reaching out to Widodo in a spirit of headbanger solidarity. Now, the English rocker has released an open letter to Widodo urging clemency for Lindsay Sandiford, a 57-year-old British grandmother who faces the firing squad in Bali on a coke-smuggling charge. Adopting considerably more dulcet tones than he uses onstage, Greeway writes:

California's Pinoleville Pomo tribe launches major grow op

Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaThe Pinoleville Pomo Nation of Northern California's Mendocino County is set to be the first Native American tribe to grow cannabis, pursuant to the new Justice Department policy taking a hands-off approach to cultivation on Indian reservations. The 250-member tribe signed a contract last month with Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms and Colorado-based United Cannabis to develop a large-scale grow operation on its 99-acre rancheria just north of Ukiah. "We anticipate construction to begin in early February, and operations to commence by the end of the month," Barry Brautman, president of FoxBarry Development Company, told Indian Country Today Media Network. "Our first phase will include 90,000 feet of greenhouse space, and another 20,000 feet of indoor space." FoxBarry will also oversee distribution for California's medical market. Cannabis grown on the rancheria will be distributed only to card-holding medical users and dispensaries. “Our business model involves doing everything legally and by the book,” Brautman emphaszied to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

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