Colombia

2014: international drug war round-up

earth2014 witnessed considerable fraying of the international Drug War consensus—but the horrific violence that finally sparked this long-overdue reckoning continued to take its grim toll. On the upside, Uruguay regsitered its first cannabis clubs, and Jamaica is now studying a decrim initiative. In a very hopeful sign, regional bodies in the Caribbean and West Africa are following suit with studies of potential decrim or legalization. And signs of the failure of the prohibitionist model kept mounting. For a second consecutive year, opium cultivation in Afghanistan broke all previous records—despite some $7 billion spent by the US to combat Afghan opium over the past decade. Hashish busts at sea—especially the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean—also soared. Saudi Arabia went on a beheading spree, targeting drug convicts (as well as those found guilty of adultery, "sorcery" and other such wackery). ISIS (whose beheadings somehow sparked far greater media outrage) started eradicating the cannabis fileds of northern Syria, after the Syrian civil war had sparked a regional hashish boom, with a profusion of militias needing narco-profits to fund their insurgencies. The same cycle that Afghanistan saw with both hashish and opium when the Taliban was in power before 9-11.

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)

Colombia: corrupt cops caught in crackdown

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

ColombiaNineteen officers of Colombia's National Police force have been arrested this week in Medellín, the latest busts in an ongoing sweep of corrupt officers. Another 27 were arrested along with the officers, accused of being their handlers for criminal bosses. The targetted officers, associated with the downtown Candelaria police station, are accused of collaborating with Los Urabeños narco-paramilitary gang. Prosecutors say the officers were paid to turn a blind eye to criminal activity in the plazas of downtown Medellín, and to provide tip-offs on planned raids. The arrests come under the National Police force's new "Transparency Plan." National Police commander Rodolfo Palomino tweeted:  "They deserve to be treated like Judas, public officials of any institution that are thrown into the maw of corruption." Last month, 25 National Police agents were arrested in the crackdown nationwide. (Colombia Reports, Dec. 4; Colomba Reports, Nov. 20)

Colombia: Guajira crime lord falls, para links revealed

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

ColombiaColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos on Oct. 22 announced the capture of one of the country's top fugitive crime lords—Marcos de Jesús Figueroa AKA "Marquitos"—in the Brazilian jungle city of Boa Vista. The extraordinary operation was coordinated by police forces in both Colombia and Brazil. "Marquitos" was considered the reigning boss of the lucrative narco trade in Colombia's northern region of La Guajira, with access to both the Caribbean Sea and the porous Venezuelan border. He is held responsible for a long reign of terror by criminal gangs and their paramilitary allies in the region—personally culpable in at least 100 deaths, according to authorities. Santos took the apprehension of Marquitos as an opportunity to crow: "With this, we say to criminals that it makes no difference where you are, we are going to catch you." (El Tiempo, Oct. 23; El Espectador, El Tiempo, Oct. 22)

Honduras: new anti-narco force claims blow against Sinaloa Cartel

Posted on October 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Central AmericaIn an operation dubbed "Saturn II," a unit of the new Honduran National Police elite anti-narco force, the Intelligence Troop and Special Security Response Groups (TIGRES), joined with DEA agents Oct. 2 to raid a house in the pueblo of El Porvenir Florida, near Copán on the Guatemalan border—scoring the arrest of one the country's reigning kingpins, José Inocente Valle Valle. The Valle Valle family is said to control the greatest share of cocaine passing through Honduras. Three other brothers of José Inocente remain at large, and face trafficking charges in the United States. Troops from the Guatemalan National Civil Police also participated in the raid. Among the items recovered in the house were 12 pieces of solid gold each impressed with the inscription "Sinaloa"—presumably indicating commerical ties between the Valle Valle family and Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. (Tiempo, Honduras, Oct. 2)

Colombia: peasants detain soldiers after villagers’ arrest

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged .

ColombiaOn Oct. 3, authorities invaded the pueblo of El Reposo, in Campamento municipality of Colombia's Antioquia department, arresting three locals—including a minor and the president of the village Communal Action Junta—in connection with a supposed cocaine laboratory discovered nearby. But El Reposo's residents quickly turned the tables, rising up with their machetes, demanding that the three be liberated—and finally detaining 14 soliders and six agents from the Fiscalía Technical Corps. The soliders and agents were held for several hours in the village schoolhouse. The government of Antioquia and Colombia's human rights ombudsman, the Defensoría del Pueblo, quickly mobilized a team to El Reposo to negotiate the release of the troops and agents. However, demands for the freedom of the three arrested locals remain outstanding, and the situation is still tense. (Semana, Bogotá, Oct. 3; Colombia Reports, La W Radio, BLU Radio, RCNEl Espectador, Bogotá, Oct. 3)

Colombia and Peru in joint operation to 'cleanse' Putumayo

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaOn Sept. 30, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos and their respective cabinet ministers held a rare joint meeting in Peru's Amazon river port of Iquitos. There, they signed a binational accord to launch a joint effort to "cleanse Putumayo"—a reference to the jungle river basin that has for many years been under the virtual control of criminal enterprises. The Río Putumayo, a tributary of the Amazon, forms the border between the two countries in the lawless region. The Colombian side is a key stronghold of the FARC guerillas, which is believed to do business with the criminal gangs that operate freely on the Peruvian side. Santos said "we have common enemies, such as the narco-traffic, illegal mining and cutting of forests." (El Tiempo, Sept. 30) He did not mention that efforts at cooperation to get the Putumayo under control have been hampered by an ongoing border dispute in the area.

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.

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