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El Salvador terror: gang warfare or death-squad provocation?

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaEl Salvador's Feb. 2 presidential election was overshadowed by a dramatic spike in the country's homicide rate—less than a year after a truce between warring criminal gangs had led many Salvadorans to hope that their country was back from the brink. Most alarming was the December discovery of 44 bodies in 14 mass graves in a wooded area of Villa Lourdes barrio in Colón, a suburb of the capital San Salvador and a notorious gang stronghold. Many of the bullet-ridden bodies were mutilated and half-naked. Authorities accuse the Barrio 18 gang of depositing their victims in the clandestine graves. A March 2012 truce between Barrio 18 and its deadly rivals, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), was credited with slashing El Salvador’s homicides from more than 4,000 in 2011 to just 2,500 over the past two years. For at least 15 months after the truce, the number of killings per day averaged 5.5, up from 14 before. But January 2014 saw a daily average of 7.7. This made easy propaganda for the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) to bait the ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) as soft on crime.

Medical advocates: Obama has authority over cannabis classification

Posted on January 31st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

medical marijuanaMedical marijuana advocates are telling President Barack Obama he has the power to reclassify cannabis after he said Jan. 31 it is up to Congress. In an exclusive CNN interview, Obama responded to a question about the federal cannabis classification by saying that, "what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress." Responded Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA): "President Obama just told the nation during his State of the Union address that because Congress has been unable to act, he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people,. The president has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time."

Colombia: cops seize ton of para cocaine

Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaColombia's National Police announced Jan. 24 the seizure of 1.2 tons of cocaine allegedly belonging to paramilitary group Los Urabeños in the northwestern department of Córdoba. The find came when police searched a truck at a checkpoint that had been established in Montería municipality. The interception was reportedly planned by police intelligence in advance. The two truck occupants who were arrested apparently tried to bribe the officers with $150,000. The agents also confiscated 6,800 gallons of biodiesel and 3,400 gallons of gasoline, worth around $30,000. The cocaine was reportedly en route to the port of Turbo in Urabá region, the Urabeños' heartland in the northern part of Antioquia department, and was intended for export to the US and Europe. The Urabeños are a "neo-paramilitary" group that remained in arms after the ultra-right paramilitary network was officially "demobilized" some 10 years ago. Authorities now consider the Urabeños Colombia's most powerful drug trafficking organization. (Colombia Reports, Jan. 24)

Michoacán: paramilitarization of the 'community police'?

Posted on January 28th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexico's federal government signed an accord with Michoacán's "community police" network Jan. 27, calling for the self-defense militias to be incorporated into the official security forces. The pact was signed by Alfredo Castillo, the government's special pointman for pacification of Michoacán, and 30 leaders of the "community police" forces. The ceremony took place at the village of  Tepalcatepec, one of those recently seized by the militias. The "community police" are to be absorbed into the Rural Defense Corps, a paramilitary network under the command of the National Defense Secretariat.

Blood avocados: Michoacán cartels co-opt ag-biz

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

MexicoMexico's violence-torn state of Michoacán produces millions of kilos each year of its famous specialty crop, highly prized in US markets... Yes, avocados. Michoacán accounts for 72% of total Mexican production of this rich, green fruit, and over 80% of the state's output is exported to the United States. The trade amounts to nearly a billion dollars a year—even ahead of the state's notorious (and prohibition-inflated) marijuana. But now the two industries are experiencing a grim synergy, as narco lords acquire avocado plantations to launder money, facilitate smuggling and maintain a cover of "legitimate" income. According to a recent exposé in Mexico's Vanguardia newspaper, the Knights Templar cartel has in recent years been running an extortion racket on avocado farmers, seizing their lands if they can't pay up (on pain of family members being abducted and threatened with death), building a "legal" agrarian empire in the state. The local agribusiness association, with the clunky name of the Michoacán State Committee on Vegetable Health, has been co-opted by the Templarios through threats and bribes, according to the report.

Federales race with vigilantes to crush Michoacán cartels

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexican federal police arrested 38 people across violence-torn Michoacán state on Jan. 20, claiming a blow against the notorious Knights Templar drug cartel. Among those detained was Jesús Vázquez Macías AKA "El Toro"—claimed to be a top kingpin of the blood-drenched narco network. "El Toro" was apprehended in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, and flown to a prison in Veracruz state, far from his home turf. But Lázaro Cárdenas, one of Mexico's key Pacific ports and industrial hubs, was actually taken over by federal security forces back in November, ostensibly to protect it from the warring narco gangs. That El Toro apparently managed to remain at large in the city until now loans credence to the claims of Michoacán's vigilante network that the government is turning a blind eye to the drug lords. (AFP, BBC News, Milenio, Jan. 20; BN Americas, Jan. 10; Reuters, Jan. 1)

Mexican army clashes with 'community police' in Michoacán

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoOn the night of Jan. 13, one day after "community police" gunmen seized several pueblos that had been controlled by the Knights Templar narco-gang in Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán, federal army troops were sent in to take back the villages from the vigilante force. "Community police" leaders say up to 12 of their men have been killed in clashes with the army. The bloodiest incident is reported from Antúnez pueblo, Parácuaro municipality—where a 17-year-old youth is said to be among seven dead. Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) says it has confirmed the deaths of four at Antúnez, including a minor.  

Colombia: FARC proposal to protect coca, cannabis growers

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

ColombiaAt the peace talks with the Colombian government that just re-convened in Havana after a holiday break, the FARC rebels released a proposal Jan. 14 outlining a plan to decriminalize and "regulate the production of coca, poppies and marijuana." The proposal came in a lengthy document entitled "The National Program of the Substitution of the Illicit Uses of Coca, Poppy, or Marijuana Crops,” described in a press release as a "special chapter of rural and agricultural reform, social-environmental reform, democracy reform, and participatory reform." The guerrilla group, said to largely finance itself through the drug trade, agreed that growers should be encouraged "to voluntarily grow alternative crops"—a reference to the largely ineffectual crop substitution programs the US has long funded in Colombia. But FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo rejected the model of prohibition and eradication. "Instead of fighting the production [of illicit substances] it's about regulating it and finding alternatives," he said. "The fundamental basis of this plan lies in its voluntary and collaborative nature, and in the political will on the part of the growers to take alternative paths to achieve humane living and working conditions." Catatumbo also said that the "medicinal, therapeutical and cultural" uses of the substances should be taken into account. 

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