opiates

ISIS exploits opium backlash to gain Afghan foothold

Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

AfghanistanFighters loyal to ISIS have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan, according to an ominous Reuters report June 29. Witnesses who fled fighting in Nangarhar province told reporters that hundreds of ISIS fighters in convoys of pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns seized several villages—and put local opium fields to the torch. "They burned poppy fields in Shadal village and banned shops from selling cigarettes," said tribal elder Malek Jan. Taxing opium production is a key source of Taliban revenue, but Reuters reports that ISIS loyalists in Nangarhar appeared to have other sources of money. Witnesses said they had plenty of cash. It is unclear where the money is coming from, but it frees ISIS to stigmatize the Taliban as soft on drugs.

South India ganja boom —linked to Maoist guerillas?

Posted on June 25th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South AsiaA June 21 article in Sri Lanka's Sunday Leader claims a huge influx into the island nation of cannabis being grown in southern India. The news peg for the report was a find of 685 kilograms abandoned on a beach in India's southern Tamil Nadu state. Tamil Nadu, just across the Palk Strait from Sri Lanka, has apparently emerged as a key transit corridor. Sri Lankan naval forces have this year seized over 200,000 kilos of cannabis, and arrested scores in connection with the hauls—both Indian and Sri Lankan nationals. Two zones are identified as centers of Indian cultivation: the southern state of Kerala (just to the west of Tamil Nadu) and the border area between the eastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (formerly Orissa, up the coast).

Saudi Arabia carries out 84th execution this year —for drug smuggling

Posted on May 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastSaudi Arabia on May 17 beheaded a Pakistani man convicted of drug trafficking, bringing to 84 the number of executions in the kingdom so far this year. The pan-Arab news agency Al Bawaba  reports that the convict was beheaded in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, after being found guilty of attempting to traffic heroin into the kingdom in balloons he had swallowed. In 2014, Saudi Arabia carried out a total of 87 executions, so it is about to break last year's record not even halfway through 2015. Some of these have won much attention in the countries the convicts hailed from. On April 16, Saudi Arabia beheaded an Indonesian female domestic worker, just two days after executing another woman from the Southeast Asian country. In January, Saudi authorities publicly beheaded Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a Muslim woman from Burma who was convicted of murder, in the holy city of Mecca. Footage of the execution showed Basim being dragged into a street and held down by four police officers as she repeatedly shouted, "I did not kill, I did not kill." Basim then screamed as a sword-wielding executioner struck her neck. Second and third blows completed the beheading and authorities quickly removed her body from the street.

Laos to lighten up on medicinal opium?

Posted on April 5th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

South East AsiaLaos was once a major opium producer—and now production is creeping up there again after eradication efforts had dramatically slashed it. But this time around authorities may take a more tolerant and realistic approach. Voice of America reported March 27 that the Asian Development Bank and other international donors helping Laos promote alternatives to opium production are actually listening to analysts who emphasize the reasons for the bounce in production. Poppy cultivation in Laos fell from a peak of 26,800 hectares in 1998 to 1,800 hectares by 2005 under an aggressive eradication program. In 2006 the Laotian government declared the country "drug free." Now, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finds cultivation in Laos rose to some 6,200 hectares in 2014. However, while the far greater quantities of opium grown in neighboring Burma are largely processed into heroin for export, much of that in Laos is consumed locally for traditional and medicinal use by hill tribes in country's remote north.

Burma opium war spills into China

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaAfter weeks of escalating tensions along the remote mountain border, a Burmese MiG-29 fighter jet carried out an air-strike on Chinese territory March 13, killing four people working in a sugar-cane field in Yunnan province. Chinese authorities stepped up security along the border and registered a diplomatic protest. Burma, after initially denying everything, issued a statement expressing "deep sorrow" over the deaths. But Beijing says there have been at least three similar incidents of bombs from Burmese government forces falling in Chinese territory in recent weeks, and warned of "decisive" measures if there were any more. This all concerns the fast-escalating war in Burma's northern Shan state, where the rebel army of the Kokang ethnicity has again taken up arms against the government. More than 50,000 people—mostly Kokang—have fled the fighting into Chinese territory since the war was re-ignited earlier this year, and Burma accuses local military commanders in China of allowing the rebels to establish a staging ground in the border zone. (BBC News, March 16; Al Jazeera, March 15; Reuters, IBT, March 14)

Will Burma opium war draw in China?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIn another grim signal of a widening war in northern Burma's opium zones, last week saw an outbreak of intense fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels, prompting some 50,000 Kokang civilians to flee across the border to China. The clashes at the town of Laukkai (also rendered Laogai), Shan state, saw government air-strikes and helicopter strafing on villages controlled by the Kokang rebel group, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and two allied militias. Some 50 government troops have been killed in the fighting, and soliders have recovered the bodies of several rebels. A line of refugees 10 kilometers long has reportedly piled up at the Chinese border crossing of Nansan. (AP, Feb. 14; Democratic Voice of Burma, Feb. 12; The Irrawady, Feb. 11)

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. 

Harsh abuses seen in Burma opium war

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaDespite a democratic opening and hopes for peace with the ethnic insurgencies in the northern hinterlands, horrific accounts of rights abuses continue to emerge from the multi-sided war over Burma's opium production. According to reports from village leaders, Burmese army troops on Jan. 19 tortured, raped and killed two young volunteer teachers. The women were both Kachin and Christians, so may have been targeted for ethnicity or religion. The attacks came when the village of Shabuk-Kaunghka, in Shan state's Mungbaw township, was occupied by a Light Infantry battalion that entered the area following clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). New fighting erupted after three police officers and a local highway administrator were detained by the KIA while carrying out a road inspection in the area. They were released after mediation, but clashes continue. 

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