Brazil: deadly prison uprising ends in deal

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

BrazilBrazilian authorities reached a deal with inmates Aug. 25 after a deadly prison uprising at Cascavel in Paraná state. The riot erupted the day before as breakfast was being served, when inmates overpowered guards. In apparent score-settling between rival drug gangs, two prisoners were beheaded, and two others thrown to their deaths off the roof of a cellblock. At least 25 were injured in the fighting. Under the deal, two guards who had been taken hostage are to be freed in exchange for a commitment to improve conditions at the facility and the transfer of some inmates to other prisons. The prison had already exceeded its intended 925 capacity. Negotiations on the specifics are ongoing between prisoners and  the Paraná attorney general's office. Some 574,000 are incarcerated in Brazil; only the US, China, and Russia have more people behind bars. It is an open secret in Brazil that with prison overcrowding at unmanageable levels, guards routinely keep the peace by handing control of cellblocks to the inmates. The  overcrowding has been exacerbated by a legal reform eight years ago that dramatically increased sentences for drug trafficking. (AFP, BBC News, Al Jazeera, Aug. 25; AP, Aug. 24)

Colombia: FARC meets army brass, coke flow uninterrupted

Posted on August 24th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

ColombiaColombian military brass held their first meeting with FARC guerilla leaders at peace talks in Havana Aug. 22. The meeting focused on the specifics of implementing a ceasefire and the eventual demobilization of the guerillas.  Earlier in the week the guerilla leaders met, also for the first time, a group of war victims to discuss formation of a truth commission for the conflict. But Colombia's Prosecutor General Alejandro Ordoñez sent a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos criticizing creation of the Historical Commission on the Conflict and its Victims, fearing an outcome favoring the FARC’s version of events. (BBC News, Aug. 22; Colombia Reports, Aug. 21)

Saudis crack down on Yemeni hash pipeline

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

Middle EastBorder Guard patrols along Saudi Arabia's rugged mountain frontier with Yemen report mounting interceptions of hashish, weapons and other contraband. Over the past nine months, interceptions at the Najran border post alone netted four tons of hashish, as well as explosives, hand grenades, firearms and ammunition. Some 250 smugglers and 25,000 "infiltrators" were also detained at the post, and several vehicles impounded. But Border Guard officials admit that on several occassions the smugglers got away into the wilderness, with agents firing after them. At the Wadi post, to the east of  Najran, border guards last month confronted six "infiltrators," killing five and capturing the survivor. Four tons of hashish were confiscated along the border just during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended with the Eid al-Fitr festival July 28—possibly because smugglers thought patrols would be slacking off. On the contrary, Saudi forces beefed up patrols.

International manhunt after Haiti prison break

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

HaitiOfficials in Haiti on Aug. 12 announced that police have re-captured Clifford Brandt, a disgraced businessman who seems to have been the intended beneficiary of an armed prison break two days earlier. Brandt was reportedly taken at a town on Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic. In the audacious raid on Haiti's main Croix-des-Bouquets prison, gunmen attacked the facility from within and without, seemingly allowing the entire population of inmates to escape—more than 800. But Brandt, a scion of one of Haiti's most prominent families, is believed to have organized the attack. Brandt had been imprisoned since 2012 on charges of kidnapping at least two children. Two guards suffered bullet wounds in the prison shoot-out. Haitian officials have alerted authorities in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica to help in hunting down the escapees, who may have fled abroad. Some reports indicated Brandt was actually intercepted by the Dominican army as he tried to cross the border at Cornillon/Grand Bois, and then turned over to Haitian authorities.

Youth cannabis use drops in Colorado —surprise!

Posted on August 9th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

ColoradoWell, here's some telling news. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, cannabis use among Colorado teens has actually dropped slightly since the state legalized recreational use in 2012. Predictably, the bureaucrats did not emphasize these results. The department's Aug. 7 press release stressed another finding from the survey, that showed Colorado teens view cannabis as less risky than they did a few years ago. The release says preliminary results from the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey show that 54% of teens in the state consider the stuff risky, down from 58% in 2011. "If we want Colorado to be the healthiest state in the nation, then we need to make sure our youngest citizens understand the risks of using potentially harmful substances," said the department's executive director Larry Wolk. It was left to the Washington Examiner to tout the department's other findings—that even if kids view pot as less risky, they are also smoking it less. Kayvan Khalatbari, co-foundet the Denver Relief dispensary, is quoted venturing a plausible explanation: "Cannabis, now that it's legal, kind of is an old person's drug. It's something that kids are seeing adults use all over the place. It just doesn't seem as cool to kids anymore."

Catalan authorities to rein in Barcelona cannabis clubs

Posted on August 5th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

SpainIn the past few years, Spain's freewheeling Mediterranean port city of Barcelona has come to rival Amsterdam as Europe's premier cannabis scene, with a proliferation of clubs where merry-makers openly light up. Now the Public Health Agency of the Generalitat de Catalunya has proposed tight new measures to regulate the clubs, and discourage the burgeoning cannabis economy.  The Generalitat, the regional government of Catalonia, has broad powers under Spain's decentralized system, although it cannot override Spanish national law. And Spanish law allows private cannabis use—or for users to unite in non-profit associations to smoke together. As Amsterdam has imposed restrictions on cannabis cafés, the number of clubs in Spain has surged from some 40 in 2010 to more than 700 today—more than half in Barcelona, the Catalan capital. But emergence of Spain as the "Holland of the South" has been viewed with dismay by Catalonia's straight-laced business elite.

Aruba frees Venezuelan 'narco-general' wanted in US

Posted on August 4th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

VenezuelaVenezuela has scored a win in its ongoing diplomatic and propaganda war with Uncle Sam. The most recent flare-up started July 24, when authorities in Aruba arrested Gen. Hugo Carvajal, a top Venezuelan official wanted in the US on drug trafficking charges. Carvajal had been military intelligence chief under the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and was accused by the US Treasury Department of using his position to protect cocaine shipments for Colombia's FARC guerillas. He had just arrived in Aruba after being appointed Venezuela's consul there—and was promptly detained at Washington's behest. Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro called the detention a "kidnapping," and demanded Carvajal's immediate release. And three days later, a judge on the island found that since Carvajal had a diplomatic passport, his arrest was illegal. He was sprung and quickly made the short flight back to Venezuela. "He's returning free and victorious. It's a triumph for sovereignty and legality," president Maduro said, praising the "bravery" of the Dutch government. (The Guardian, July 28; BBC News, July 27; Maduradas, July 24)

Guerilla grow ops on Indian rez spark tribal anger —again

Posted on July 30th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CaliforniaAmid mounting concern about the ecological impacts of outdoor cannabis grows in California's Emerald Triangle comes news of last week's massive raid on the Yurok Indian Resolution in Humboldt Country. The California National Guard on July 21 joined more than a dozen other agencies to help Yurok tribal authorities uproot the grows, the LA Times reported. Tribal leaders say that grow ops have threatened the reservation's water supply, harmed its salmon, and interfered with cultural ceremonies. At the request of Yurok officials, officers served search warrants at several properties in and near the reservation along the Klamath River. Participating agencies in "Operation Yurok" included the Sheriff's Drug Enforcement Unit, the North State Marijuana Investigation Team, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Yurok tribal police.  Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O'Rourke joined officers at their staging area at a hillside fire station, where he complained bitterly of the growers.  "They're stealing millions and millions of gallons of water and and it's impacting our ecosystem," O'Rourke said. "We can't no longer make it into our dance places, our women and children can't leave the road to gather. We can't hunt. We can't live the life we've lived for thousands of years." And while growers once "brought their fertilizer in in batches in the dark," O'Rourke said dump trucks now enter the reservation with impunity in broad daylight, using heavy equipment to carve roads through tribal land. Yurok authorities said tens of thousands of plants would likely be eradicated in the operation, chipped on-site.   

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