Taliban versus ISIS in Afghan opium wars

Posted on November 2nd, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

AfghanistanIn a "worrying reversal" for global anti-drug efforts, the latest annual report from the United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC) finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan increased 43% over the past year—with a total estimated yeild of 4,800 tons compared to 3,300 tons in 2015, The area under poppy cultivation increased 10% according to the report—clocking in at 201,000 hectares (496,681 acres), up from 183,000 hectares (452,200 acres). Simultaneously, there was a 91% decrease in eradication across the country—with no eradication reported at all in the top producing provinces. "It is very disturbing to see a considerable increase in poppy cultivation in the north which may be linked with a deteriorating security situation in the region," said Andrey Avetisyan, UNODC's chief in Afghanistan, at an Oct. 23 Kabul press conference.

Pro-legalization mayor defeated in Rio de Janeiro

Posted on November 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilRio de Janeiro's pro-legalization mayoral candidate Marcelo Freixo was defeated in the Oct. 30 run-off by the conservative Marcelo Crivella—a bishop in the evangelical Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Crivella, who won by a safe 20%, is also nephew of the founder of what Reuters calls the "evangelical megachurch." He had to back down from his past criticisms of homosexuality in gay-friendly Rio—as well as of Catholicism, Brazil's dominant religion. With the country still reeling over the August impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff of the left wing Workers Party (PT), the race in Rio represents a further gain for Brazil's political right.

Big pharma, alcohol fund anti-legalization drives —surprise!

Posted on October 26th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Shadow WatchWho do you think is pouring money into the campaigns against the legalization initiaves that will go before the voters in five states next month? Well, an Oct. 22 exposé in The Guardian newspaper will confirm your most cyniical suspicions. In August, the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics became the biggest donor to the campaign to defeat Arizona's Proposition 205, making a $500,000 donation to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP). In making the donation, Insys cited concerns for child safety. But The Guardian points out the delicious irony: Insys manufactures Subsys, a prescription painkiller derived from fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. And the Phoenix New Times adds that Insys is under investigation in four states, including Arizona, for marketing practices related to Subsys that have allegedly resulted in patient deaths.

El Chapo one step closer to extradition

Posted on October 26th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

Chapo Mexico's imprisoned top drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán came another step closer to extradition Oct. 20 when a Mexican federal judge in Ciudad Juárez found that the process has been legally sound and turned down five requests for an amparo (or injunction) to halt it. Extradition to face criminal charges in the United States had been approved in May, but suspended later that month by a higher court in Mexico City. The suspension was inteneded to allow the lower court to hear arguments by Guzmán's lawyers that extradition would be unconstitutional. These arguments have now been rejected. Chapo's lawyers were given 10 days to file an appeal.

Wanted police chief arrested in Mexican massacre

Posted on October 24th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

Mexico The former police chief of Iguala, the Mexican city where 43 college students disappeared in 2014, was finally apprehended after two years as a fugitive, officials announced Oct. 21. Felipe Flores was arrested while visiting his wife in Iguala, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales told a press conference. Mexico's Prosecutor General Arely Gómez hailed Flores' capture, stating on Twitter that it would allow investigators to get "a fundamental statement to clear up the events."

Bolivia scores major marijuana hauls

Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

AndesCochabamba region, long the heartland of Bolivian coca-leaf production, now appears to be emerging as a cannabis cultivation zone. October saw raids by the government's Special Force for the Struggle Against Narco-Trafficking (FELCN) in which eight metric tons of marijuana were seized across the region. Several campesinos were arrested, and crops burned in the fileds at various locations. La Razón newspaper names the municipalities of Omereque and Mizque as the site of major raids. Both lie on th edge of the rainforest—just where the Cochabamba plateau drops down into the Amazon. This transition zone is the country's key coca production area—but now more and more cocaleros are apparentrly turning to cannabis.

US extradites well-connected businessman to Mexico on narco charges

Posted on October 19th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

MexicoBusinessman Zhenli Ye Gon, accused of producing and trafficking methamphetamine, was extradited to Mexico Oct. 18. Placed by US Marshals on a flight from Virginia to Mexico City, he was upon his arrival immediately taken to the country's top-security lock-up, the notorious Altiplano Prison. The turn-over comes after he lost a nine-year legal battle against extradition from the US, BBC reports. Zhenli Ye Gon fled to the United States in 2007 after Mexican police seized $205 million in cash from his Mexico City villa. As South China Morning Post notes, this was hailed as the biggest cash haul in the history of global drug enforcement. Authorities say he was importing vast quantities of precursor chemicals for meth production. Ye Gon, who has dual Chinese and Mexican citizenship, denies the charges, maintaining that his company, Unimed Pharm Chem Mexico, was producing legal prescription drugs.

Philippines to turn to China for drug war aid?

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East Asia The Philippines' ultra-hardline President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in China Oct. 18 for a high-profile visit that western media accounts are portraying as a tilt away from the United States. Washington has historically been the Philippines' imperial patron, providing investment and military aid—but relations are now strained over Duterte's murderous anti-drug crackdown, which is believed to have claimed 3,000 lives. Arriving in Beijing, Duterte blasted Washington and the European Union for their criticisms of his lawless crackdown, and praised his hosts for giving him free rein. "China is the only country to come out freely and [make] a firm statement that they are supporting the fight against drugs in my country," Duterte told Chinese state news agency Xinhua in a comment picked up by the Philippine Star. "The other countries, United States, EU, instead of helping us, they know that we are short of money... all they had to do was to criticize. China never criticized."

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