Andes

Peru: record coke bust points to Mexican cartel penetration

Posted on September 10th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

PeruA record-breaking cocaine bust on Peru's Pacific coast points not only to the country's booming production, but also the increasing role of the Mexican cartels in the Andean narco economy. Peru's Interior Ministry announced the haul in a Sept. 1 statement, saying National Police and DEA agents had uncovered an unprecedented 7.6 metric tons of coke hidden in a shipment of coal at a warehouse in the northern fishing port of  Huanchaco, Trujillo region. "This is the largest drug seizure ever in Peru," said Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, speaking at a Lima press conference below a banner reading "Historic Blow to Illegal Drug Trafficking" at the hanger where the shipment had been flown for incineration. "It's historic."

Colombia: freed cartel hitman demands protection

Posted on August 28th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

ColombiaJhon Jairo Velásquez Vasquez AKA "Popeye" is notorious in Colombia as former personal enforcer for late drug lord Pablo Escobar—and is now a free man after 22 years behind bars, two-thirds of his original sentence. But he seems to be more troubled than relieved about his release on parole—just before getting popped from the top-security Cómbita prison in Boyacá, Popeye asked Colombia's official human rights office, the Defensoría del Pueblo, for protection. "Please grant me police security from the moment I leave the prison gate," he wrote. We can imagine that Popeye has made a few enemies over the years. In jailhouse interviews with journalists, he boasted that he personally killed around 300 people and helped arrange for the murder of 10 times that many. A judge granted nonetheless his parole application, and he was sprung on a bond of 9 million pesos ($4,700) Aug. 27. "In his own hand he asked [authorities] to protect his right to life," the Defensoría said of the request, adding that the office has contacted the appropriate authorities to arrange security measures.

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)

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)

Peru: new ops against 'narco-senderistas'

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

PeruPeru's National Police force has stepped up operations against what the press in the South American nation calls narco-senderistas—surviving remnants of the Shining Path guerilla movement that control cocaine production in two remote pockets of jungle. On July 19, the special Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE) announced the arrest of four members of Shining Path's Huallaga Regional Committee, the command body for the guerilla column in the coca-producing Upper Huallaga Valley. They were arrested at a market stall in the town of  Ventanilla (Huánuco region), operated by one of the four, María Bautista Rojas, but DIRCOTE said they were part of the "platoon" led by the guerilla commander Juan Laguna Domínguez AKA "Comrade Piero," with responsibility for several caseríos (hamlets) in the nearby jungle. (El Comercio, July 19)

Medellín kingpin busted in Spain

Posted on July 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

SpainSpanish authorities on July 19 announced the arrest of wanted Colombian kingpin Hernán Alonso Villa AKA "El Ratón" (The Mouse), who was apprehended on a highway outside the Mediterranean port of Alicante. Alonso Villa is said to have been a top European operative for the Oficina de Envigado, now Colombia's most powerful criminal organization, and is held responsible for exporting massive amounts of cocaine to Spain, the Netherlands, and elsewhere on the continent. He is also accused of having led the Oficina's paramilitary enforcement wing in Colombia. The Oficina has been linked to nearly 400 murders, according to authorities. Spain's National Police said Alonso Villa has been transfered to Madrid pending extradition to Colombia. (The Guardian, July 20; Latino Post, El Tiempo, July 19)

Colombia: FARC renounce narco-profits

Posted on May 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

ColombiaColombia’s government and the FARC guerilla organization announced an agreement May 16, entitled "Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs," in which they pledge to work together agianst the narco trade. The FARC, whose top leaders face extradition to the United States on trafficking charges, agreed to "end any relationship" with the illicit drug trade, and cooperate in a "National Program for the substitution of the illicit uses of coca, poppy, and marijuana crops." The accord calls for "integral development plans" for rural communities impacted by the drug trade, to be drawn up with the participation of those communities, in the context of an "Integral Rural Reform." It also calls for an international conference to be held under the auspices of the UN to reconsider global strategies against drugs—the one veiled reference in the agreement to the FARC's earlier proposals to decriminalize cultivation of coca leaf and cannabis. "With this we will eliminate the gasoline that has fuelled the conflict in Colombia—drug trafficking," said the government's lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

Peru: cannabis activists stage sit-in against yellow press

Posted on May 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

PeruMembers of the group Legaliza Perú held a sit-in at the doors of Lima's conservative daily newspaper El Comercio on May 16 to protest an opinion piece by columnist Martha Meier that ran a week earlier, with the sneering title of "Y ahora... el lobby de los pastrulos," or "And now... the pastrulo lobby." Pastrulo is Peruvian slang for someone who smokes cocaine paste—yet Meier was reacting to the successful cannabis legalization march that was held in Peru's capital on May 3! So this is sort of like calling cannabis smokers "crack-heads." The article was full of the usual distortions about how cannabis is "very addictive" and "affects mental health" (recycled from the world media's scare machine, and duly accepted unquestioningly). Legaliza Perú's press release charged that the article was "inexact and prejudicial," which is being very polite.

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