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Political economy of Mexico's narco-nightmare

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

Drug War MexicoAs nightmarish violence continues in Mexico, with horrific massacres and chaotic urban warfare right on the USA's southern border, a couple of academics at England’s University of Sheffield provide a readable 250-page primer on why this is happening now, and take a stab at what can be done to address the crisis—other than escalating it with militarization.

Blood Ganja

The most enlightened cannabis connoisseurs—those who still have a link back to the values that defined the hippie culture—tend to be conscious consumers when it comes to food or computers or whatnot. They may buy organic tomatoes, boycott Taco Bell to support exploited farm workers in Florida, and petition Apple about the brutal conditions in their Chinese assembly plants. But do they pay as much attention to the source of their preferred smoking herb? 

Is there blood on your ganja?

Crime wars rock Cape Town

Posted on December 5th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

The Cape Flats, a sprawling poor area on the outskirts of Cape Town, has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's crime crisis, the country's key transshipment point for dagga (cannabis), tik (cystal meth) and heroin. Long-simmering gang wars over control of the traffic exploded into horrific violence this year, leading to political stand-offs over how to respond. Western Cape province has called a special commission of inquiry into police actions in the conflicted township of Khayelitsha following charges that corrupt and aggressive policing has enflamed violence and led to vigilantism. But national Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the inquiry is illegal and exceeds provincial powers. In July, a request from West Cape Premier Helen Zille for military troops to patrol the Flats was turned down by President Jacob Zuma. By then, some 25 people, including seven children, had been killed in drug-related violence in the Flats over the past five months. (IOL, Dec. 4; SABC, Nov. 27; The New Age, South Africa, Nov. 14; Times Live, Johannesburg, Nov. 8; AllAfrica, Oct. 4; The Economist, Aug. 11)

Iran: drug war execution spree

Posted on October 25th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIran hanged ten men convicted of drug trafficking Oct. 22, defying pleas from the United Nations, European Union and human rights groups. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled" by the  hangings, which add "to the alarming execution rate in Iran"—now at over 300 since the beginning of the year. "Most of the executions took place after summary trials, without the right to appeal and for offenses which according to international minimum standards should not result in capital punishment," she added. "I call on Iran, once more, to halt pending executions and to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty." The 10 men, who were hanged at a Tehran prison, were members of two drug smuggling gangs, according to Iran's judiciary. One of the men, Saeed Sedeghi, was a shop worker who Amnesty International believes was tortured and subjected to mock execution while serving in time in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

Burmese warlord confesses to Mekong massacre

Posted on September 25th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

South East AsiaSix men accused of murdering 13 crew members of two Chinese merchant ships on the Mekong River last year pleaded guilty Sept. 20 at their trial in Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan province. The defendants included Naw Kham (also rendered Nor Kham), purportedly one of the most powerful warlords in the Golden Triangle opium-growing region that straddles the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos. The crew were massacred by an armed gang that attacked two cargo ships last October. Chinese media said the gang was involved in kidnapping as well as international drug running.

Afghanistan: Reaper drones in fruitless fight against opium

Posted on September 3rd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

opiatesThe UK's Royal Air Force on Aug. 22 boasted that its Reaper drones helped uncover a stash of heroin with an estimated street value of over £10 million. The Reapers, remotely piloted by members of the RAF's 39 Squadron, tracked two vehicles after determining that they were likely to contain the hidden compartments typically used by drug traffickers. One vehicle was low on its suspension, while the rear of an accompanying flatbed truck appeared too shallow, suggesting a hidden storage area. A raid on the two vehicles by Afghan National Security Forces and the US Marine Corps led to the seizure of 1,208 kilograms of dry opium and 59 kilograms of processed heroin. (Defence Management, Aug. 22)

DEA pledge "hot and heavy" season of California pot busts

Posted on August 26th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaThe feds are promising an especially aggressive crackdown on Emerald Triangle cannabis growers this harvest season. "It's one of the most beautiful parts of this country, but it's just being destroyed by marijuana cultivation," said Randy Wagner, the DEA special agent in charge of Northern California operations. "I can tell you, we're going to be hot and heavy in Humboldt County from here on out." An Aug. 26 report n the Eureka Times-Standard says the feds are frustrated with the ongoing dispute over medical marijuana in California and determined to pick up the slack following harsh budget cuts at the state's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. The report suggests local enforcement is ready to cooperate directly with the DEA, even with reduced state involvement.

Central Asia opium wars escalate

Posted on August 2nd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

opiatesTajikistan sealed its border with Afghanistan this week, after clashes with armed rebels left 48 dead. Security forces are now searching for Tolib Ayombekov, a former rebel who became a commander of the border guard after a 1997 peace deal and is now believed to have taken up arms again. Ayombekov has been a fugitive since he refused to show up for questioning about the July 21 murder of a local security official in southern Badakhshan province, or to turn over men under his command suspected in the slaying. A conflict over control of the cross-border traffic in Afghan opium is said to be behind the conflict. (IWPR, July 31; DPA, July 30; Registan, July 27; AP, July 25)

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