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Five Washington state medical marijuana patients go to trial

Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington are expected to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients.

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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. 

Michoacán: 'community police' declare war on narcos

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

MexicoSome 100 gunmen from a "community police" force in Mexico's Michoacán state on Jan. 12 seized the town of Nueva Italia—precipitating a shoot-out with gunmen from the Knights Templar cartel who had been in control there. Two members of the vigilante force were wounded before the Templares retreated, leaving the "community police" in control of thw town. It is unclear if there were casualties on the cartel's side. It seems there were no "official" police in the town, nor any army troops. Traveling in a convoy of pick-up trucks and armed with rifles, the "community police" also seized several hamlets in Parácuaro, Apatzingán and other municipalities—where several trucks and other vehicles deemed to belong to cartel collaborators were burned. Jan. 10 saw a confrontation for control of the municipal palace in the center of Apatzingán. The vigilantes also briefly set up a roadblock on the coastal highway, where more vehicles were stopped and burned—a total of 13 across the state in three days of violence.

Turkey's hashish boom —fallout from Syria war?

Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Middle EastTurkish security forces report that they seized 150 tons of hashish in 2013, with 89 tons seized in southeastern Diyarbakir province, Turkey's Kurdish heartland. Authorities also said a somewhat improbable 56 million cannabis plants had been seized in Diyarbakir, and 382 arrested. The provincial Counter Narcotics Department called it a record-breaking year. (Trend, Jan. 9)

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