cartels

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.  

Taiwan descending into drug war dystopia?

Posted on February 13th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

East AsiaIt's the kind of headline we're more used to seeing from Mexico or Brazil. On Feb. 11, Taiwan's Kaohsiung prison exploded into violence as inmates took two guards hostage and seized rifles and other weapons, starting a 14-hour stand-off in which the facility was surrounded by police troops. It ended when six of the rebel inmates killed themselves, according to authorities. 

Another sentencing in Sinaloa-Chicago connection

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

Identical twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores on Jan. 27 were the latest to be sentenced in a series of high-profile federal cases targeting the Sinaloa Cartel's operations in Chicago. Accused of running a continent-spanning trafficking ring, they each received 14 years in prison after US District Judge Ruben Castillo agreed to sharply reduce their term in recognition of their work as government informants. Castillo called the Flores twins, natives of Chicago's West Side, the "most significant drug dealers" he'd dealt with in two decades on the bench, stating that they had "devastated the walls" of US national security by bringing at least 70 tons of cocaine and heroin into the country from 2005 to 2008. Prosecutors also charged the twins smuggled $1.8 billion back to Mexico—wrapped in plastic and duct tape. But it was federal prosecutors who pleaded for leniency, hailing the twins for gathering evidence against the Sinaloa Cartel's long-fugitive kingpin "El Chapo" Guzmán, who was finally busted in Mexico last year. 

International drug trade funds Boko Haram insurgency

Posted on January 27th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe brutal Boko Haram rebels are gaining ground at a frightening pace in northwest Nigeria, even mounting a bloody attack this week on the region's major city, Maiduguri. Reports are mounting that the exremist movement is funding its insurgency by exploiting Nigeria's strategic place as a crossroads of the global narco-traffick. BBC News on Jan. 25 asked "How have Nigeria's militants become so strong?" It cited the findings of the International Crisis Group that Boko Haram "has forged ties with arms smugglers in the lawless parts of the vast Sahel region." Plenty of its arms (including tanks and armored vehicles) have been plundered from the Nigerian army itself. But plenty more are thought to have come from Libya, where arms depots were looted when Moammar Qaddafi's regime was overthrown in 2011. Trafficking networks have been moving that plundered war material across the Sahel and Sahara, integrating the traffick into routes already established for moving drugs and other contraband between West Africa, Europe and Asia.

Mexico: cops arrested in 'disappearance' of journalist

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexican authorities on Jan. 8 detained 13 members of a local police force in the state of Veracruz in connection with the Jan. 2 abduction of journalist Moisés Sánchez. The detained constitute a third of the police force in the town of Medellín. State prosecutor Luis Ángel Bravo said the men could be held for 30 days while an investigation is underway.  Sánchez was taken from his home by unknown gunmen in civvies. Tests are underway on a body found in the town, to determine if it is the remains of the missing journalist. Sánchez edited a local weekly in Medellín, La Unión (it appears not to have a website), with a reputation for fearless coverage of drug-related violence. The arrests came in the case hours after a group of journalists interrupted a session of the Veracruz legislature in state capital Xalapa with placards reading "7 DAYS WITHOUT MOISES."

Are the FARC narco-traffickers?

Posted on December 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaAmid peace talks in Havana, Colombia's FARC guerillas issued an angry communique Dec. 14, insisting "We are a rebel group, not narco-traffickers." This was in response to President Juan Manuel Santos'  suggestion that FARC drug-trafficking could be considered a "political crime," potentially sparing guerilla leaders prosecution. This of course won Santos howls of outrage from the right; now he gets it from the other side. The FARC statement accused the government of trying to "confuse the minds of Colombians" with a "distortion," and decried the existence of a "capitalist narco-trafficking business" in the country. (El EspectadorEl Tiempo, Dec. 14)

Chicago link to Mexican mass abduction?

Posted on December 15th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Reuters on Dec. 10 reported that the alleged Chicago jefe of Mexico's Guerreros Unidos narco-gang faces federal charges with seven others for a plot that involved moving heroin and cocaine to the Windy City in passenger buses. Pablo Vega Cuevas and his brother-in-law, Alexander Figueroa, both of Aurora, Ill., were arrested in Oklahoma; three suspected accomplices were busted in the Chicago area. Warrants have been issued for three others, including one believed to be in Mexico. The investigation led to the seizure of 68 kilos of heroin, nine kilos of cocaine and more than $500,000 in cash. "These arrests will have a significant impact on the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine throughout the Midwest," Dennis Wichern, the DEA's Chicago special agent-in-charge, said in a statement.

Sentencing in Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection

Posted on December 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoThe sentencing last month in a case related to the Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection provided further fodder for the increasingly plausible conspiracy theory that the DEA protected Mexico's biggest criminal machine. Federal Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced Alfredo Vázquez Hernández, who had been extradited after serving a sentence in Mexico, to 22 years in prison for shipping 276 kilograms of cocaine to Chicago hidden in railway cars. Federal  prosecutors said Vazquez was a top-ranking operative of the Sinaloa synidcate, who arranged airplanes, submarines, trains and trucks to move cocaine from Colombia to Chicago via Mexico. Vazquez was characterized as a lifelong friend of the cartel's now-imprisoned top kingpin "Shorty" Guzmán. Judge Castillo said this hadn't been proved, but stated:  “Given the amount, it’s nonsensical to think this was this defendant’s inaugural voyage into cocaine trafficking."

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