Central America

Central America: 'narco-deforestation'?

Posted on April 8th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaCentral America's rainforests are being destroyed by drug traffickers who cut roads and airstirps on officially protected lands, according to a paper in the journal Science. The phenomenon, called "narco-deforestation," is occurring across large swaths of Guatemala and Honduras, and perhaps elsewhere. Erik Nielsen, an assistant professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University, said: "Not only are societies being ripped apart, but forests are being ripped apart." He added that cattle ranches are being established on cleared land as fronts to launder drug money.

El Salvador terror: gang warfare or death-squad provocation?

Posted on February 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaEl Salvador's Feb. 2 presidential election was overshadowed by a dramatic spike in the country's homicide rate—less than a year after a truce between warring criminal gangs had led many Salvadorans to hope that their country was back from the brink. Most alarming was the December discovery of 44 bodies in 14 mass graves in a wooded area of Villa Lourdes barrio in Colón, a suburb of the capital San Salvador and a notorious gang stronghold. Many of the bullet-ridden bodies were mutilated and half-naked. Authorities accuse the Barrio 18 gang of depositing their victims in the clandestine graves. A March 2012 truce between Barrio 18 and its deadly rivals, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), was credited with slashing El Salvador’s homicides from more than 4,000 in 2011 to just 2,500 over the past two years. For at least 15 months after the truce, the number of killings per day averaged 5.5, up from 14 before. But January 2014 saw a daily average of 7.7. This made easy propaganda for the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) to bait the ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) as soft on crime.

Guatemala considers legal opium cultivation

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

opiatesGuatemala has emerged as a major opium producer in recent years, and now President Otto Pérez Molina—a conservative who is increasingly breaking with the US-led "drug war" consensus—is considering legalized and regulated cultivation of the poppy as an alternative to eradication. "We started exploring the capacity that we could have for controlled planting," said Pérez Molina. "What that means is that we would know exactly what extensions are being planted, what the production would be and that the sale would also be well controlled, especially for medicinal use." Interior minister Mauricio López added: "There are two paths; one is cultivated substitutes, and the other is the alternative which is controlled cultivation. This is what is already being done in other countries such as India and China, that is to say identifying hectares clearly, seeing how they are grown, carrying out the harvest, taking control of the commercialization and above all making sure this serves mainly the pharmaceutical industry."  

Costa Rica: the next narco-state?

Posted on December 23rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Central AmericaCosta Rica's authorities announced 17 raids by the elite Drug Control Police across the Caribbean provinces of Limón and  Cahuita as well as locations in the capital San José Dec. 17, that they boast resulted in the dismantling of the most important narco-trafficking operation in the country to date—with ties to Colombia and Jamaica as suppliers of cocaine and cannabis, and Europe as an export destination. Prosecutor General Jorge Chavarria said that among the 12 arrested were two officers of Public Force, the country's national police, and an officer at the Bank of Costa Rica who facilitated laundering of proceeds. The ring was reportedly led by one Rivas Bonilla AKA "Tito" or "Patrón"—who kept ahead of the law for at least three years through tip-offs from his pal on the police force. Chavarría said that the ring was the largest yet run by Costa Ricans, instead of Colombian or Mexican networks operating within the country. "History has changed," Chavarría said. "We now have Costa Rican groups who want to be entrepreneurs in drugs: owners of the drugs, the organization and the routes."

Gulf Cartel's Guatemalan jefe busted in Chiapas

Posted on October 5th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaMexican federal police on Oct. 4 announced the apprehension of a fugitive Gulf Cartel operative, Eduardo Francisco Villatoro Cano AKA "Guayo"—wanted in Guatemala for a bloody attack on police earlier this year. Guayo was captured in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of southern Chiapas state, bordering Guatemala. Guatemalan authorities hold him responsible for a June armed attack on a National Civil Police post in Salcajá, Quetzaltenango, in which nine officers were killed.  He was arrested along with his cousin, Édgar Waldiny Herrera Villatoro AKA "El Gualas." Although both men are Guatemalan nationals, they were said to be serving as agents of Mexico's Gulf Cartel. They were turned over to authorities in Guatemala, where President Otto Perez Molina said the Gulf Cartel network in the country has now been dismantled.

'Drug war' dissent at OAS summit

Posted on June 8th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Central AmericaMore than 160 civil society organizations representing hundreds of thousands of citizens in Mexico, Central America and the United States, sent an open letter to the OAS General Assembly meeting in the Guatemalan city of Antigua this week,  calling for alternatives to the "war on drugs" that guarantee respect for human rights. "Our organizations have documented an alarming increase in violence and human rights violations. While we recognize that transnational crime and drug-trafficking play a role in this violence, we call on our governments to acknowledge that failed security policies that have militarized citizen security have only exacerbated the problem, and are directly contributing to increased human suffering in the region," the letter states.

Will OAS summit broach drug decrim?

Posted on June 3rd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Central AmericaAs the  Organization of American States (OAS) summit opens under tight security in the historic Guatemalan city of Antigua—some 2,000 army and National Police troops deployed—fighting narco-trafficking is certain to top the agenda. Secretary of State John Kerry will be in attendance, with US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske—prepared to oppose initiatives to reconsider the "war on drugs," including from Guatemala's otherwise arch-conservative President Otto Pérez Molina. But it remains to be seen if the summit will take up the iconoclastic recommendations of a draft report on drug policy released by the OAS last month. When the ground-breaking report was issued, OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza asserted, "this is not a conclusion but only the beginning of a long-awaited discussion." As the Guatemala summit opened June 3, he reiterated that the report will not be officially adopted by the international body, but that "it will be only a platform for discussion." This equivocation will doubtless be welcome in Washington, given the report's open dissidence from generations of "drug war" dogma.

Honduras: police seize $50,000 gold-plated AK-47

Posted on January 14th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Central AmericaAuthorities in Honduras on Jan. 7 announced the seizure of a gold-plated, jewel-encrusted AK-47 assault rifle, complete with two silver magazines. The rifle, estimated to be worth more than $50,000, turned up in a raid along with other military equipment at a ranch in Choloma, some 300 kilometers from Tegucigalpa, where two security guards were detained. Authorities said the gold-plated rifle had an engraving associated with the Malverde drug gang, which is allegedly in league with Mexico's notorious Zetas. "It's an exclusive design and a fine carving," said National Police chief Leo­nel Sau­ce­da.

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