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Federal court to hear evidence on cannabis classification

medical marijuanaThe US District Court for the Eastern District of California will hold rare formal hearings beginning Oct. 27 to determine whether an indictment against Brian Justin Pickard and others for conspiracy to grow more than 1,000 marijuana plants violates the US Constitution, and whether marijuana is misclassified by the federal government as a...

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Italian military to grow medical marijuana

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

ItalyItaly's government announced Sept. 18 plans to cultivate medical marijuana at a secure military lab outside Florence and distribute it through pharmacies. Medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2007, but only some 60 patients have signed up with the program overseen by the national healthcare system, the Azienda Sanitaria Locale. The Florence Military Chemical-Pharmaceutical Plant (SCFM) currently produces so-called "orphan drugs" no longer made by large pharmaceutical companies but still needed to treat rare diseases. It is now to grow cannabis under a deal signed between Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti and Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin. "The institute already produces some medicines," Pinotti told Reuters, addressing the unlikely prospect of entrusting the military with weed cultivation. "And we can guarantee security conditions."

Narco-counter-coup in Guinea-Bissau?

Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

AfricaTwo years ago, a military putsch in the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau was dubbed a "narco-coup," with reports claiming the civilian president had been removed for his unwillingness to turn a blind eye to lucrative cocaine smuggling rackets by commanders of the armed forces. On Sept. 16, BBC News reported that the leader of the coup, armed forces chief Gen. Antonio Indjai, was dismissed by the new president, Jose Mario Vaz, who came to power following elections and a return to civilian rule earlier this year. Reuters suggests international pressure was behind the move. Indjai was replaced with Gen. Biague Na Ntan, described as a confidant of Vaz. Reuters notes that he is an ethnic Balanta like Indjai, which could smooth over resentment from the ethnic group that makes up about 60% of the army and security forces but just 25% of the population.

Mexico: Templario operative killed, secrets spilled

Posted on September 22nd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMichoacán state police on Sept. 12 found the body of a brother of Servando Gómez Martínez AKA "La Tuta"—leader of the notorious Knights Templar cartel and Mexico's most wanted drug lord. Aquiles Gómez Martínez was found dead of a gunshot wound at his home in the Pacific port city of Lázaro Cárdenas. A 9 mm pistol, two ammunition clips and a box containing 50 bullets were also found at the residence. Prosecutors had identified him and two other purported brothers of "La Tuta," Flavio and Luis Felipe Gómez Martínez, as chief operatives of Los Caballeros Templarios. (EFE, Sept. 19)

Saudi Arabia goes on beheading spree

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Middle EastWhile ISIS has sparked global outrage with its beheading of journalists (and less global outrage for its beheading of captive Kurdish and Syrian fighters), US ally Saudi Arabia has been gone on a beheading spree of its own. We've noted that Saudi Arabia is among the Middle Eastern nations responsible for a global execution spike. Al Jazeera reported on Sept. 2 that Saudi Arabia carried out more than one execution per day in the first three weeks of August. The Saudi Ministry of Justice has announced the execution of 26 since Aug. 4. In the seven months prior to that date, 15 executions were carried out, bringing the total number to 41 so far this year. Drug charges have been prominent. Four were beheaded in the southwestern city of Najran on Aug. 18 after being convicted of smuggling "a large quantity of hashish" into the country. The Saudi Press Agency boasted that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and his government are taking aggressive measures againts the "social ill of narcotics" and meting out punishment "according to Sharia." Creepily, a man was beheaded Aug. 19 in the northern city of Qurayyat on charges of "sorcery." Amnesty International denounced what it called a "disturbing surge" in executions in the desert kingdom. "The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions," the group said, adding that some beheadings were "reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture."

Fortune magazine ranks top five global cartels

Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Shadow WatchWell, this is really cute. With refreshing honesty, Fortune magazine on Sept. 14 issued a list of the "Fortune 5"—the biggest organized crime groups in the world, ranked by their annual revenue estimates. No sources are given, but the Fortune editors presumably relied on international law enforcement intelligence. The results are slightly surprising for those of us who grew up in the era of the Sicilian Mafia and Medellín Cartel. Brave new crime machines have long since eclipsed these entities from the global stage, and far outstripped their earnings from human trafficking, extortion, credit card fraud, prostitution and (above all) drug smuggling. In the number one slot, by a mile, is Yamaguchi Gumi, a wing of Japan's Yakuza, with revenue estimated at $80 billion. A distant second is Russian mafia group Solntsevskaya Bratva, with revenue at $8.5 billion. Three and four are two Italian outfits that have long superceded Sicily's Cosa Nostra: the Camorra, based in Naples, with revenues of $4.9 billion; and the 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria, with revenues of $4.5 billion. Number five is Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, with revenues of $3 billion.

ISIS to attack US through Mexico —not!

Posted on September 14th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

ISISHere we go again. Francis X. Taylor, under-secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security on Sept. 10 that operatives of the extremist jihadi movement variously known as ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State have discussed infiltrating the United States through the Mexican border. "There have been Twitter and social-media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility," Taylor said in response to a question from Sen. John McCain, who wanted to know if any ISIS chatter had been intercepted that "would urge infiltration into the United States across our Southwestern border." But Taylor said he was "satisfied that we have the intelligence and the capability at our border that would prevent that activity." And when pressed further, he admitted: "At present, DHS is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the US homeland from ISIL." This weasily flipping gives the media the opportunity to play it however they want. So the liberal Huffington Post headline reads "DHS Doesn't Think ISIS Is Plotting Attack Through US-Mexico Border," while the establishmentarian Bloomberg goes with "Islamic State Talked of Entering US Through Mexico."

Mexico: protest campaign for imprisoned vigilante leader

Posted on September 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoSupporters of José Manuel Mireles Valverde, the imprisoned leader of the "community police" self-defense forces in Mexico's violence-torn Michoacán state, are holding a protest mobilization to demand his release. The biggest rally so far was held Aug. 31 in Hermosillo, Sonora, where he is being held in a maximum-security prison. Mireles was the one significant leader of the "community police" movement who refused to accept the government's deal to bring the vigilante militias under the control of the official security forces. He was arrested by state and federal police on June 27 at the Michoacán pueblo of La Mira, and charged with narcotics and arms trafficking. His legal team says the evidence against him was fabricated, and that he was tortured while in detention. In announcing the protest campaign, his lawyers and supporters said they would file complaints about his treatment with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and United Nations. They say that Mireles, a longtime activist who ran for Mexico's senate with the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 2006, is really being punished for refusing to go along with the "community police" movement being integrated into official police and military forces themselves deeply co-opted by the drug cartels. (El Impercial, Hermosillo, Sept. 1; La Jornada, Aug. 31; El Universal, Aug. 29; AM de Queretaro, Aug. 26; Milenio, Aug. 19; El Siglo, Durango, Aug. 12; Excelsior, Jan. 17)

Peru: record coke bust points to Mexican cartel penetration

Posted on September 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

PeruA record-breaking cocaine bust on Peru's Pacific coast points not only to the country's booming production, but also the increasing role of the Mexican cartels in the Andean narco economy. Peru's Interior Ministry announced the haul in a Sept. 1 statement, saying National Police and DEA agents had uncovered an unprecedented 7.6 metric tons of coke hidden in a shipment of coal at a warehouse in the northern fishing port of  Huanchaco, Trujillo region. "This is the largest drug seizure ever in Peru," said Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, speaking at a Lima press conference below a banner reading "Historic Blow to Illegal Drug Trafficking" at the hanger where the shipment had been flown for incineration. "It's historic."

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