Mexico: Knights Templar jefe busted

Posted on February 28th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

MexicoMexican authorities on Feb. 27 announced the capture of the country's most-wanted drug lord, Servando Gómez AKA "La Tuta"—boss of Michoacán's feared Knights Templar cartel. After a long surveillance operation, "La Tuta" was taken without a shot in a raid on a house in state capital Morelia. Also known as "El Profe" due his past as a schoolteacher, the leader of the cultish Knights Templar had overseen a bloody campaign for control of the Michoacán plaza (sphere of operations) against the group's principal rival, La Familia Michoacana, from which it broke off in 2010. Despite a $2 million price on his head, La Tuta had publicly proclaimed that he would rather die than go to prison. After his capture, he was taken to Mexico City, where he was paraded before TV cameras, before being flown by helicopter to the maximum-security Altiplano prison. Police seized several Michoacán properties in the weeks leading up the capture and arrested several of his associates, including his brother, Flavio Gómez, who was said to be in charge of the cartel's finances. The Knights Templars are said to control sprawling agricultural lands and real estate across Michoacán.

Chicago cops run 'black site'?

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

ChicagoChicago is abuzz with explosive claims in The Guardian Feb. 24 that police in the Windy City operate a CIA-style "black site" where arrestees are held incommunicado, subject to harsh interrogations without being formally booked—and therefore with no paper trail, and no means for attorneys or kin to determine their whereabouts. The facility, in a nondescript West Side warehouse known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of "secretive work by special police units," The Guardian writes, where beatings and abuse can be carried out with impunity. Detainees are held there up to 24 hours before being sent to a precinct to be formally processed. Kids as young as 15 have been held at Honan Square, and at least one man was found unresponsive in an "interview room" at the facility and later pronounced dead, according to a February 2013 Chicago Tribune story cited by The Guardian.

US troops to Peru's coca zone

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

PeruIt has been making practically no headlines outside Peru, and hardly any within, but a force of US Marines has apparently been mobilized to the Andean country—specifically to the conflicted coca-growing jungle region known as the VRAE, or Valley of the Apurímac and Ene Rivers. Peru's Congress quietly approved the deployment in a resolution Jan. 29. The first contingent of 58 soldiers arrived on Feb. 1, and a second of 67 troops on Feb. 15. They are to stay for a year on what is being called a "training" mission. A much larger contingent is to arrive in September, a total to 3,200 Marines, for a six-day joint exercise with Peruvian forces. (Defensa.com, Feb. 19)

Texas prison riot points to privatization problems

Posted on February 22nd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

TexasThe town of Raymondville, Tex., got a shock over the weekend as the local Willacy County Correctional Center exploded into an uprising by prisoners upset over conditions and poor medical services at the facility. The inmates set fire to several kevlar domes or tents that serve as housing for the 2,800 prisoners at the facility, rendering the prison "uninhabitable." The federal Bureau of Prisons and FBI as well as Texas Rangers and highway patrol were called in to evacuate the inmates to other facilities and negotiate with those who refused to move. Raymondville's residents were advised to stay indoors during the stand-off, and a local school was put on "soft lockdown." The Correctional Center, which mostly holds undocumented immigrants, is run by the private Management & Training Corp.  

Latin America's cartels build their own arms industry

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

narco-tankYet more grim evidence emerged this week that Mexico's warring cartels are becoming a real military force and underground parallel state in the country's lawless northeast. Small Wars Journal on Feb. 13 noted a press release from the Mexican attorney general's office, the PGR, announcing that federal police and army troops had raided a winery near Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, where 13 vehicles were being fitted with armor plating. Small Wars Journal calls it a "narco-tank factory." A huge amount of ammunition was also confiscated in the raid, although it seems the people who were running the workshop all escaped. The PGR said they believe the makeshift factory was being run by the Gulf Cartel.

Mexico cracks down on narco-oil

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoIn an open acknowledgement that it cannot secure its pipeline system from plunder by criminal gangs, Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex announced Feb. 18 that it will no longer pump refined gasoline and diesel through the duct network. Mexico lost $1.14 billion last year to pipeline thefts last year—a 70% increase over the previous year. This is an ominous sign that the drug cartels are becoming the real power on the ground throughout much of the country, and are moving beyond their mainstays of illicit substances to contraband control of legal commodities like oil and minerals, establishing a virtual parallel economy. Pemex will now only be sending "unfinished" fuel through its more than 14,000 kilometers of pipeline, reported El Universal. The company said in a statement: "Customers should make sure that the fuel they buy has been delivered from Pemex terminals, and not buy gasoline or diesel from anyone other than gas stations or authorized dealers, given that...it could damage motors."

Will Burma opium war draw in China?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIn another grim signal of a widening war in northern Burma's opium zones, last week saw an outbreak of intense fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels, prompting some 50,000 Kokang civilians to flee across the border to China. The clashes at the town of Laukkai (also rendered Laogai), Shan state, saw government air-strikes and helicopter strafing on villages controlled by the Kokang rebel group, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and two allied militias. Some 50 government troops have been killed in the fighting, and soliders have recovered the bodies of several rebels. A line of refugees 10 kilometers long has reportedly piled up at the Chinese border crossing of Nansan. (AP, Feb. 14; Democratic Voice of Burma, Feb. 12; The Irrawady, Feb. 11)

US legalization initiatives and the Mexican cartels: good news or bad?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

MexicoIs the relieved pressure on cannabis in the United States undermining the Mexican cartels, as we'd long hoped? There are encouraging sigs. Global Post cites a new report by California cannabis industry think-tank The ArcView Group finding that legal marijuana sales jumped 74% in 2014 to a new high of $2.7 billion—a growth pace expected to continue for several more years. And Mexican producers may be taking the hit. In 2014, the US Border Patrol saw a plunge in pot seizures—1.9 million pounds, down 24% from 2011, the year before Colorado and Washington voted to legalize.  

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