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Beheaded for hashish in Saudi Arabia —again

Posted on February 17th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Middle East Saudi Arabia's relentless campaign of beheadings continued Feb. 17 with the execution of three drug convicts, AFP reports—bringing to 63 the number of people put to death so far this year. Two Yemeni nationals accused of bringing hashish into the kingdom were were executed in the southwestern city of Jazan, near the border.  A Saudi national was meanwhile executed in the northern region of Tabuk after his conviction for smuggling amphetamines. The desert kingdom seems set to make a new record in beheadings this year—having executed 47 people in a single day on Jan. 2 for "terrorism."

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?

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.

Cannabis legal in North Korea? Don't believe the hype

Posted on October 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

DPRKHere we go again. The Weed Blog was last week the latest to repeat the urban legend that cannabis is legal in North Korea. Earlier this year, the same click-bait nonsense was heard on a YouTube video produced by TopTrending.com. The mis-informed line goes like this (in the Weed Blog's gushy prose): "North Korea doesn’t consider marijuana a drug at all, and is completely legal in the country. [Sic] That's right. I can repeat that: marijuana is completely legal in the country of North Korea." You can repeat it all you want, but that doesn't make it true. It's an absurd irony that probably the most cannabis-unfriendly country on Earth has won a rep as a free zone where the stuff is legal. How did this all get started?

Federal court finds drug dog unreliable —but upholds conviction

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

In an utterly maddening decision, on July 28 the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found that a police dog in a drug bust was unreliable in detecting drugs—yet let the conviction in the case stand anyway! Lex, the drug-sniffing pooch of the police force in Bloomington, Ill.,  must have been at the "bottom of his class" at dog-training school, the court stated. The defense presented evidence that Lex signals for drugs 93% of the time, often inaccurately. The court admitted Lex only had a "59.5% field-accuracy rate," which is "not much better than a coin flip." It also agreed that giving the critter treats for each alert—false or not—was a "terrible way to promote" accuracy. But the conviction of Larry Bentley Jr was upheld, on the grounds that contradictory answers to officers' questions and other evidence separately justified the search of his car in a traffic stop, which turned up cocaine.

China: officialdom hypes drug scare

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

ChinaHong Kong's South China Morning Post reports May 12 that Chinese authorities are warning of a rapid rise in abuse of synthetic drugs. The number of "registered abusers" of synthetic drugs—a whopping 1.46 million who get high on methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy—for the first time overtook that of registered heroin addicts last year, according to the National Narcotics Control Commission. In total, there were said to be 2.95 million registered abusers of all drugs, but the NNCC estimated the real figure—including those not registered—was over 14 million. NNCC deputy chief Liu Yuejin said cross-border trafficking was also rising because of the increasing demand for drugs in the People's Republic—but also that internal production is rising, wth drug laboratories shifting from coastal areas to inland provinces.

Mexico: Knights Templar jefe busted

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

MexicoMexican authorities on Feb. 27 announced the capture of the country's most-wanted drug lord, Servando Gómez AKA "La Tuta"—boss of Michoacán's feared Knights Templar cartel. After a long surveillance operation, "La Tuta" was taken without a shot in a raid on a house in state capital Morelia. Also known as "El Profe" due his past as a schoolteacher, the leader of the cultish Knights Templar had overseen a bloody campaign for control of the Michoacán plaza (sphere of operations) against the group's principal rival, La Familia Michoacana, from which it broke off in 2010. Despite a $2 million price on his head, La Tuta had publicly proclaimed that he would rather die than go to prison. After his capture, he was taken to Mexico City, where he was paraded before TV cameras, before being flown by helicopter to the maximum-security Altiplano prison. Police seized several Michoacán properties in the weeks leading up the capture and arrested several of his associates, including his brother, Flavio Gómez, who was said to be in charge of the cartel's finances. The Knights Templars are said to control sprawling agricultural lands and real estate across Michoacán.

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 signs. 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.  

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