cartels

Spanish police can't break Moroccan connection

Posted on January 28th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

SpainOperation TELOS, an effort by Spain's Guardia Civil to halt the flow of Moroccan hashish into the Iberian peninsula, is now in its thrid year—but ongoing busts only testify to the ingenuity and resources of the smugglers. On Jan. 13, the Guardia announced that they'd broken up a ring that brought the stuff into Spain's southern province of Cadiz using a fleet of pleasure boats with false bottoms, arresting 17 people and seizing five of the boats along with 4.5 ton of hash. The arrests were made in a series of raids over the past months. The nationality of those arrested was not specified. 

Was Chapo's overture to Hollywood fatal?

Posted on January 10th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ChapoThe story of the capture of Chapo Guzmán—Mexico's top fugitive drug lord—took a turn for the surreal Jan. 9 with the relevation that Hollywood heavy Sean Penn had interviewed the kingpin when he was on the lam last year for Rolling Stone magazine. In the account, Penn describes the complicated process of estabishing contact, with encrypted communications and such, before being flown from an unnamed location in central Mexico to a "jungle clearing" for some face time. We have to be a tad skeptical here. Chapo was tracked down by Mexican federales to a luxury condo in a Sinaloa seaport—nowhere near any jungle. Even if the meeting was arranged at a remote location, it was still likely to be in Chapo's northern stronghold state of Sinaloa—and the only real jungle in Mexico is in southern Chiapas state, hundreds of miles away. Taking some liberties for dramatic effect perhaps, Sean?

El Chapo re-capture: 'Mission Accomplished'?

Posted on January 9th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoMexican President Enrique Peña Nieto might have made a more auspicious choice of words in proudly announcing the recapture of fugitive drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera AKA "El Chapo" on Jan. 8. "Mission accomplished: we have him," the prez declared in Spanish on his Twitter account. El Chapo's escape from Mexico's top-security prison in July was a bitter humiliation for Peña Nieto and his government. The elusive Chapo had spent a decade and change as the country's most-wanted fugitive after his last escape from a Mexican prison, in 2001. The first time around, he allegedly used bribes to slip out in a laundry cart; the second time he slipped out through an elaborate tunnel that had been built from his shower block at Altiplano Prison to a nearby apartment. The Sinaloa Cartel kingpin taunted the world on social media as the second manhunt was carried out. So we have to ask: Was a nervous Peña Nieto unconsciously echoing the famously premature boast of George W. Bush after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003?

Mexico: Zapatistas host Ayotzinapa families

Posted on January 3rd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoThe Zapatista rebels in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas marked the anniversary of their 1994 New Years Day uprising by hosting a national activist gathering in their territory. Guests of honor at the proceedings in the small pueblo of Oventic were a group of parents and other family members of the 43 students who disappeared in September 2014. The students, from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero state, are said to have been abducted by corrupt local police and turned over to a murderous narco-gang—but surviving kin and their supporters increasingly charge Mexico's government with a cover-up in the case. The Zapatistas' Subcommander Moises, joined by 43 masked rebels (one for each missing student), oversaw the ceremony and each embraced the family members. Moises expressed his own skepticism of the official investigation: "The Zapatistas believe that we cannot trust the bad governments anymore, they are the servants of capital, stewards of big capitalist business," he said. "The one calling the shots is global capitalism, that is why we cannot believe them." (TeleSur, Jan. 1)

Florida cops snared in Venezuela money-laundering op

Posted on January 2nd, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

VenezuelaWell, this is a little funny. The US has been eager to find any evidence that the left-wing government of Venezuela is tainted by narco-trafficking. But now it looks like a Florida police force may have been co-opted by the Venezuelan narco-networks. Federal authorities now say that for two years starting in 2010, police in Bal Harbour, Miami-Dade County, funneled millions in drug money into the bank accounts of Venezuelans—including William Amaro Sánchez, now special assistant to President Nicolás Maduro. The supposed goal was to disrupt the networks. But this supposed undercover sting operation generated millions for a local police task force and never made a single arrest.

Mexico: narco hand in assassination attempt on ex-governor?

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

MexicoBeing the governor of Mexico's Pacific coastal state of Colima seems to be high-risk proposition —even once you're out of office. Two gunmen shot Fernando Moreno Peña, Colima's governor from 1997 to 2003, as he ate breakfast in a restaurant in the state capital on Oct. 12. He was struck six times, although doctors say he will likely survive. In 2010 another Colima ex-governor, Silverio Cavazos, who held office from 2005-2009, was slain outside his home. Gustavo Vázquez Montes, Cavazos' predecessor, met his fate in a plane crash while returning from meetings in Mexico City in 2005. The cause of the crash was never determined, but mysterious plane crashes appear to be a favored way of getting rid of members of Mexico's political elite. All three men were members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)—Mexico's generations-ruling political machine, which once again holds the presidency after finally losing it for two terms starting in 2000.

Mexico: extraditions signal continued Sinaloa impunity?

Posted on October 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

MexicoMexico on Sept. 30 extradited 13 people to the United States—including two accused high-ranking drug lords and several suspects in two high-profile attacks on US citizens. One was the 2011 deadly ambush of US immigration agents in San Luis Potosí state; the other the previous year's killing of US consulate workers in Ciudad Juárez. The two accused kingpins were Edgar Valdez Villarreal AKA "La Barbie" of the Beltran- Leyva Organization and Jorge Costilla Sánchez AKA "El Coss" of Los Zetas. The US Justice Department hyped the extraditions as signaling a new coordination effort between Mexico and Washington following a June meeting between US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her Mexican counterpart, Arely Gómez. As AP noted, extraditions had fallen dramatically since 2012, the final year of President Felipe Calderón's term, when Mexico sent 115 people to face criminal charges in the US. Under President Enrique Peña Nieto, the number dropped to just 66 last year. (AP, Sept. 30)

Honduras oligarchs busted for money-laundering

Posted on October 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Central AmericaThree members of the ruling elite in Honduras were charged by US authorities with money-laundering this week. Yankel Rosenthal, a former minister of investment and president of the popualr Club Deportivo Marathon soccer team, was arrested Oct. 6 upon landing at the Miami airport. His cousin Yani  Rosenthal  and uncle Jaime Rolando Rosenthal, a four-time presidential candidate and owner of El Tiempo newspaper, were also detained. Grupo Continental, owned by the Rosenthal family, is a pillar of the Honduran economy, with holdings in real estate, tourism, industry and telecommunications. US officials now say these businesses helped launder narco-profits, transfering dirty money from New York to Honduras over a period of more than 10 years. The three men provided "money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations," said the US Treasury Department in a statement. Seven of their businesses were labelled under the US Kingpin Act as "specially designated narcotics traffickers." Yankel Rosenthal, who served in President Juan Orlando Hernandez's cabinet until stepping down unexpectedly in June, has won popularity in Honduras through his largesse. Among other public works, he built a brand-new stadium in the city of San Pedro Sula, which was named after him. (El Heraldo, Oct. 8; BBC News, Oct. 7)

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