opiates

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.

Chicago link to Mexican mass abduction?

Posted on December 15th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Reuters on Dec. 10 reported that the alleged Chicago jefe of Mexico's Guerreros Unidos narco-gang faces federal charges with seven others for a plot that involved moving heroin and cocaine to the Windy City in passenger buses. Pablo Vega Cuevas and his brother-in-law, Alexander Figueroa, both of Aurora, Ill., were arrested in Oklahoma; three suspected accomplices were busted in the Chicago area. Warrants have been issued for three others, including one believed to be in Mexico. The investigation led to the seizure of 68 kilos of heroin, nine kilos of cocaine and more than $500,000 in cash. "These arrests will have a significant impact on the supply and distribution of heroin and cocaine throughout the Midwest," Dennis Wichern, the DEA's Chicago special agent-in-charge, said in a statement.

Sentencing in Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection

Posted on December 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoThe sentencing last month in a case related to the Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection provided further fodder for the increasingly plausible conspiracy theory that the DEA protected Mexico's biggest criminal machine. Federal Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced Alfredo Vázquez Hernández, who had been extradited after serving a sentence in Mexico, to 22 years in prison for shipping 276 kilograms of cocaine to Chicago hidden in railway cars. Federal  prosecutors said Vazquez was a top-ranking operative of the Sinaloa synidcate, who arranged airplanes, submarines, trains and trucks to move cocaine from Colombia to Chicago via Mexico. Vazquez was characterized as a lifelong friend of the cartel's now-imprisoned top kingpin "Shorty" Guzmán. Judge Castillo said this hadn't been proved, but stated:  “Given the amount, it’s nonsensical to think this was this defendant’s inaugural voyage into cocaine trafficking."

Afghan opium boom again breaks record

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

opiatesOpium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose 7% from 209,000 hectares in 2013 to 224,000 hectares, according to the 2014 Afghanistan Opium Survey (PDF) released Nov. 12 by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Opium production may increase 17%, with yields estimated to reach 6,400 tons in 2014 compared to the previous year's total of 5,500 tons. These increases come after record highs were marked in 2013, when cultivation rose 36% and production by almost a half over 2012.

Burma burns opium, but UN sees hype

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

South East AsiaTo mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26, Burmese authorities held drug-burning ceremonies, boasting the destruction of seized opium, heroin and methamphetamine said to be worth a combined $130 million. The mass burnings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi were attended by officials from the DEA as well as from Chinese drug enforcement agencies. But UN officials meanwhile warned that illicit drug production in Burma continued to rise—mostly to supply a growing Asian market. Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, told The Irrawady website that Burmese opium production was "in 2006, at the lowest point, representing roughly 7% of the global production; it is now 18%. So it has increased year on year." As usual, the bulk of the opium was produced in Shan and Kachin states, where tribal armies have long used the opium trade to finance their insurgencies. But Douglas, speaking at a Rangoon press conference announcing release of the UNODC's new World Drug Report, also said Shan state has become a major transshipment point for methamphetamine—seizures of which in Southeast Asia are at the "highest levels ever recorded." 

China's cannabis contradiction

Posted on June 29th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ChinaOn June 26, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, China's Supreme People's Court announced with pride that a whopping 39,762 have been sentenced for drug-related offenses in the People's Republic the first five months of 2014, up more than 27% for the same period last year. The official state news agency Xinhua reported that a total of 9,168, or about 23%, were sentenced to more than five years, life imprisonment, or death. A quoted SPC official made much of a supposedly growing drug meance. "Drug-related crimes have been spreading from bordering and coastal areas to the country's inland," said deputy jurist Ma Yan. South China's Guangdong province, with its booming export zones and free-wheeling capitalism, has topped the list since 2007. Yunnan and Guangxi, bordering Southeast Asia's opium-producing Golden Triangle, also continued to report high rates of drug-related crimes. But such cases are also mushrooming in inland Chongqing and northern Liaoning, Ma said. No breakdown was provided of the substances in question, but a proporiton of the cases certainly included cannabis.

Syria war fuels Lebanon hashish boom?

Posted on May 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Middle EastA May 20 Reuters report picked up by Israel's dialy Ha'artez portrays Lebanon's government as having basically thown in the towel on cannabis eradiction in the Bekaa Valley, apparently afraid of the war spilling across the border from neighboring Syria. Towns in the Bekaa were hit by rocket fire last year, and the valley continues to be shaken by periodic sectarian attacks related to the fighting across the border in Syria. During Lebanon's own 1975-1990 civil war, the fertile Bekaa Valley produced up to 1,000 tons of hashish annually, before production was nearly stamped out under an aggressive eradication program. "From the 1990s until 2012, cannabis eradication took place on an annual basis," Col. Ghassan Shamseddine, head of Lebanon's drug enforcement unit, told Reuters.  "But in 2012...it was halted because of the situation on the Lebanese borders and the instability in Syria."

Colombia: FARC renounce narco-profits

Posted on May 20th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

ColombiaColombia’s government and the FARC guerilla organization announced an agreement May 16, entitled "Solution to the Problem of Illicit Drugs," in which they pledge to work together agianst the narco trade. The FARC, whose top leaders face extradition to the United States on trafficking charges, agreed to "end any relationship" with the illicit drug trade, and cooperate in a "National Program for the substitution of the illicit uses of coca, poppy, and marijuana crops." The accord calls for "integral development plans" for rural communities impacted by the drug trade, to be drawn up with the participation of those communities, in the context of an "Integral Rural Reform." It also calls for an international conference to be held under the auspices of the UN to reconsider global strategies against drugs—the one veiled reference in the agreement to the FARC's earlier proposals to decriminalize cultivation of coca leaf and cannabis. "With this we will eliminate the gasoline that has fuelled the conflict in Colombia—drug trafficking," said the government's lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle.

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