'Narco-jihadist' threat seen in North Africa

Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

North AfricaWith ISIS in control of a chunk of Libya and Tunisia militarizing after a deadly terrorist attack, an article appears in the United Arab Emirates' The National warning of a "narco-jihadist" threat in North Africa. The commentary by Abdelkader Cheref, a professor at the State University of New York, warns that "huge quantities of Moroccan hashish transit through the Sahara where so-called narco-jihadists, who control a triangle of no-man's land between northern Mali and Niger, eastern Mauritania, southern Algeria and Libya, smuggle the shipments to Europe. There are mounting concerns regarding the links between Moroccan drug barons and narco-jihadists linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa."

Colombia overtakes Peru in coca production

Posted on July 15th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaColombia surpassed Peru last year in land under coca cultivation, resuming its number one position for the first time since 2012. The latest annual report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finds that territory under coca cultivation dropped 14% in Peru, from 49,800 hectares in 2013 to 42,900 to 2014—the smallest area under cultivation since 1998. Colombia meanwhile experienced a 44% jump from 48,000 hectares to 69,000. Peru made gains againt coca in the Upper Huallaga Valley, while coca fields expanded in Colombia's Putumayo, Caquetá, Meta and Guaviare regions—all on the frontier lands of plains and rainforest east of the Andes. The findings do not necessarily mean that Colombia is now the world's top cocaine producer, as much of Peru's crop is more mature and higher yielding, having never been subjected to eradication. While Peru eradicates in the Upper Huallaga, it resists US pressure to do so in a second coca cultivation zone, the Apurímac-Ene Valley, for fear of inflaming peasant unrest. (AP, UNODC, July 15; UNODC, July 2)  

Mexico: Chapo Guzmán escapes —again!

Posted on July 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoWell, that didn't take long, did it? A massive manhunt is underway in Mexico after the country's most notorious drug lord escaped from the country's highest security prison on the night of July 11. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán stepped into a shower and through a secret door down a tunnel that led out of Altiplano Federal Prison. The lighted and ventilated tunnel was nearly a mile long, Mexico's National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido García admitted. Reports indicate the tunnel even had a "rail system." It came out in a warehouse.

Chile moves towards cannabis decrim

Posted on July 7th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Southern ConeCheers broke out in the public gallery July 7 as Chile's lower-house Chamber of Deputies voted 68-to-39 with five abstentions to decriminalize cannabis—including a provision for cultivation. The reform of the country's anti-drug statute, Law 20.000, would "depenalize" the possession of up to 10 grams (0.35 ounce) and the growing of up to six plants. The bill makes reference to recreational, medical and spiritual use of the herb. To become law, it still has to be studied by a health committee before the Chamber of Deputies votes again on each specific provision. It will next pass to the senate, and then to the desk of President Michelle Bachelet, who is expected to approve it.

Details emerge in Mexican massacre

Posted on July 7th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged .

MexicoMexico's independent Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center (or Centro Pro) on July 2 released new evidence that high-ranking military officers gave soldiers orders to kill prior to an army mass slaying of more than 20 supposed narco-gang members in June 2014. The facts of the bloody incident at Tlatlaya, México state, have been disputed  for over a year now. Purported documents from the 102nd Infantry Battalion released by the Centro Pro read like extermination orders. "Troops must operate at night, in massive form, reducing daytime activity, to kill criminals in hours of darkness," one document says. This casts further doubt on the official version that the casualties died in a gun battle that began when suspects fired on soldiers in a warehouse raid. An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has already determined that between 12 and 15 of the victims were killed unarmed or after surrendering. Yet the defense secretary, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, continues to stand by the official story, charging that "people and groups who perhaps don't like what the army is doing have already convicted the soldiers."

Cannabis cultivation decriminalized in Spain?

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

SpainThe new "Citizen Safety Law" that took effect in Spain on July 1 is notoriously draconian, making it illegal to march on public buildings, and imposing prohibitive fines for holding any protest without a permit. It also raises the minimum penalty for public cannabis use or possession from 300 to 600 euros, with the maximum penalty set at a whopping 30,000 euros for "grave infractions." But even this is something of a victory, as conservatives had been pressing to raise the minimum to 1,000 euros. And there may be a more surprising bright side. According to reports on the Medical Cannabis Spain Blog and LaMarihuana.com, language was added to the section of the law dealing with cultivation, saying that it will only be punishable when it is "in visible public places." The reports state that this means cultivation behind closed doors is effectively decriminalized in Spain, as private possession has been for several years.

Another hashish mega-haul in Mediterranean

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

EuropeSpain's Guardia Civil on July 1 announced the seizure nearly 16 tons of hashish from a vessel intercepted 45 nautical miles south of Malaga. The crew of nine were all arrested—six Syrian and three Indian nationals. The 85-meter vessel, the Just Reema, was sailing towards the eastern Mediterranean under a Congolese flag when it was boarded by the Guardia in a joint operation with French and Italian police forces dubbed "Urca," coordinated through Europol. When the vessel was first searched at sea, police found only a cargo of about 1,500 tons of salt. However, once it was brought into port at Malaga for a more thorough inspection, agents discovered that the craft had a double bottom that hid 15.7 tons of hashish. Europol estimates the value of the haul to be about 24 million euros (about $ 26.5 million), if sold on the Spanish market. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), over the past two and a half years European police forces in the Mediterranean have seized 22 ships carrying up to 30 tons of hashish each.

ISIS exploits opium backlash to gain Afghan foothold

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

AfghanistanFighters loyal to ISIS have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan, according to an ominous Reuters report June 29. Witnesses who fled fighting in Nangarhar province told reporters that hundreds of ISIS fighters in convoys of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns seized several villages—and put local opium fields to the torch. "They burned poppy fields in Shadal village and banned shops from selling cigarettes," said tribal elder Malek Jan. Taxing opium production is a key source of Taliban revenue, but Reuters reports that ISIS loyalists in Nangarhar appeared to have other sources of money. Witnesses said they had plenty of cash. It is unclear where the money is coming from, but it frees ISIS to stigmatize the Taliban as soft on drugs.

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