Tag Archive | "drugs"

Calderon says US bears huge responsibility for drugs

“[E]ither the United States and its society, its government and its congress decide to drastically reduce their consumption of drugs, or if they are not going to reduce it they at least have the moral responsibility to reduce the flow of money towards Mexico, which goes into the hands of criminals. They have to explore even market mechanisms to see if that can allow the flow of money to reduce,” says outgoing Mexico President Calderon.

The dirty truth of course is that much of the literal blood money from drugs ends up being laundered by corrupt US hedge funds and investment banks, which makes them every bit as criminal as the drug cartels themselves.

And why do Americans take so much drugs? We need to face this unpleasant truth and ask why, and what can we do to change it. But the underlying problem is that we have a parasite, criminal financial class that doesn’t care how many die, are tortured, or become addicts, so long as the money keeps coming in.

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Huge Arizona drug bust just a fraction of smuggling

Federal and state law enforcement recently made three mass arrests of drug smugglers in Arizona, resulting in a staggering amount of confiscated drugs, weapons, and money. In total, 76 suspected smugglers were arrested. Over 20 tons of marijuana, 160 pounds of heroin, 210 pounds of cocaine, almost $760,000 in cash, and 108 weapons were seized.

Yet, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says this is just a tiny fraction of the drugs coming through and that these busts will slow the cartel down but certainly not stop it.  Perhaps even more unsettling, two of the weapons found in the arrests were tied to the botched Fast and Furious attempt by ATF to allow guns to pass across the border into the hands of the cartels so they could be tracked.

The drug traffickers are believed to be part of the massive and powerful Sinaloa Cartel, who some think seem to be curiously untouchable and immune from arrests, although that’s certainly not what happened this time.  They have complete control of the Mexico / Arizona border and are the biggest of all the drug trafficking organizations. They ship cocaine from Columbia as well as their own marijuana, heroin, and meth (The Sierra Madres provide an ideal growing climate for poppies).  Their leader is the elusive Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán who somehow managed to escape from a maximum security prison in a laundry truck in 2001. He is Mexico’s most-wanted, and the DEA considers him the “godfather of the drug world.”

Arizona drugs mostly come in through an 80 mile corridor between Yuma and Sells. This is rugged, barren land with few roads. A large portion of it runs through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Some roads there are closed in the winter. The enormous Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range is directly north of Cabeza Prieta, so I’m guessing smugglers wouldn’t be going through that way! For one thing, any arrests there would automatically be under federal jurisdiction and penalties much harsher. 

Rte 85 goes from the border at Lukeville through Organ Pipe, connecting with I-8 at Gila Bend. This seems a probable route for drug traffickers, even if it is heavily watched by law enforcement. Most of the rest of the 80 miles is on Tohono O’Odham land. There is a network of small roads heading south from Sells but there are no obvious crossing points at the border.

This border land is mostly unremittingly hostile to humans. It is rugged terrain with little water, scorching temperatures in the summer, and the usual assortment of Arizona desert flora and fauna that bite, sting, and imbed themselves in you. The geography of the land makes it is one of the few areas in the entire US / Mexico border that has no fences, nor is it easy to patrol. That’s why smugglers use it.

I can understand how a few hundred pounds of heroin and cocaine can be backpacked across the borders. But transporting twenty tons of marijuana requires large vehicles which probably can’t maneuver well on remote dirt roads and thus would have to go on highways like Rte. 85.

Think about it. These busts, massive as they are, probably won’t even cause much panic in their destination cities because vast quantities continue to be smuggled in. This is our problem too, not just Mexico’s.

(crossposted from AZIVN)

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“Global commission” of former officials: War on drugs has failed

Their obvious and sane conclusion that legalization needs to be discussed will be ignored by D.C. because far too many lawmakers and their corporate benefactors make huge amounts of money from this failed war; either by building prisons, gittin’ tough on crime, or just outright corruption, bribery, and money laundering.

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US military weaponry being used by drug cartels in Mexico

DJ was right. He’s long maintained that while drug cartels may be getting some weapons from straw buyers in the US this couldn’t possibly account for the huge numbers of weapons they have nor are such weapons powerful enough.

He recently commented on a post here about straw gun buyers being arrested in Arizona.

Always the accountant, I note that 38 guns [bought by one person arrested] is a mere fraction of a percent of the 30,000-odd guns confiscated in Mexico each year. We now know that it happens. But to what degree?

If I was a drug cartel purchaser, working for an organization with unlimited money and excellent skills at covert shipping, I wouldn’t spend $450 (plus bribes) to buy an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle that can be gotten by the handful across the border. No, I’d by caseloads of full-auto AK-47s at $100 apiece (or less) from Somalia and other places around the world.

Anyone using an American-bought AK-47 semi-auto would be seriously outgunned.

As it turns out, much of the weaponry is indeed coming from the US. But it’s not via small purchases from gun shops. Narco News presents convincing evidence based on Wikileaks cables and their own investigations that seriously heavy weaponry used by the US military is finding its way, sometimes legally sometimes otherwise, to Mexico and the cartels. This is military-grade weaponry and is not available in gun stores. (That semi-auto AK you can buy in some US gun shores is comparatively, a pea shooter. Full auto AKs, while legal in some areas, are strictly controlled by the federal government and require a special license. They are also very expensive, like $15,000 vs. $100 in Somalia. Thus, they aren’t trafficked in the States.)

Narco News

Those [firearms] exports are approved through the State Department, under a program known as Direct Commercial Sales. A sister program, called Foreign Military Sales, is overseen by the Pentagon and also taps U.S. contractors to manufacture weapons (such as machine guns and grenades) for export to foreign entities, including companies and governments.

The State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually.

Narco News says weapons sent to the Contras by the US have been refurbished and are now being used by drug cartels. They note that a shadowy company here in the States has been shut down after being accused of illegally trafficking for years in firearms, including gun barrels.

As the death toll mounts in the drug war now raging in Mexico, it pays to remember that weapons trafficking, both government-sponsored and illegal, is a big business that feeds and profits off that carnage.

So, we have the despicable spectacle of major US banks admitting they laundered money for drug cartels (and getting off with fines and not prison for those responsible) while US military grade weaponry somehow keeps finding its way to those same cartels. Sounds like Third World corruption, doesn’t it?

Among the blowback from the odd refusal of the US to imprison money launderers or to stop trafficking of military weaponry is a new genre of video, that of real-life torture and murder by one cartel against the captured members of another cartel or law enforcement.

A dramatic video has surfaced titled “brother of Patricia González la piñata,” where various masked men assault a man with a bat and an electric stungun. The victim is presumably Mario González, brother of a former prosecutor for the state of Chihuahua, whose previous interrogation videos were released on YouTube.

Let’s legalize drugs, all of them. Portugal decriminalized use of all drugs ten years ago and their drug usage has dropped compared to the rest of the EU. This would also put an end to the violence and corruption. Hey, Joe Kennedy was a bootlegger who went legit when Prohibition ended and a generation later, his son became president. It’s not like we don’t have a precedent for legalizing what was once illegal.

Posted in News

Why money laundering matters


Bank Info Security

“It is easy to forget and/or never really truly understand why this is such an important issue if you only see anti-money laundering as a paperwork detail,” Sullivan says. “Just look at what is going on at the border currently; you have got the drug lords and their gangs who are absolutely running wild.”

And how do the drug lords finance their activity? Money laundering.

“I don’t mean to speak on some sort of moral high horse here, but there is much more to this AML stuff than just shuffling papers across a desk, and it is really not an issue of Big Brother looking over the average guy’s shoulder,” Sullivan says. “This stuff cuts to the very fabric of who we are as Americans and the future of our children and our country. And if we are able to put a damper on the means to commit and/or continue the various organized criminal activities, then that must be our combined focus to do.”

There are powerful forces in this country who profit mightily from laundered money and thus who do not want this flow of literal blood money to stop. This includes corrupt banks, dirty hedge funds, and no doubt plenty of politicians too.

Posted in News

‘Murder City.’ Juarez is collapsing

Podcast interview from KUER at University of Utah

Journalist Charles Bowden has spent some 15 years writing about Ciudad Juarez and in that time, he’s witnessed what he describes as the collapse of a society. In 2009, there were 2,600 murders in Juarez – up from around 300 in 2007. Houses sit empty, jobs have disappeared and gangs hold the city in their grip. Friday, our conversation with Bowden about his book Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.

Imagine a place where you can kill a person or rape a woman for days, and nothing happens. That’s what Juarez is like now, Bowden says. 10-15 million Mexicans live in the US illegally now, desperate to escape the violence and poverty. It’s the biggest mass migration in history.

Juarez is Ground Zero for the madness. It’s common for 10-20 people to be murdered each day there, often being tortured then beheaded. There’s no health care. One reporter sought political asylum here because the Army wanted to kill him (and was jailed here for seven months before being freed.) “Something’s going on in Juarez that’s larger than Juarez. A modern city based on all our principles and industry and trade is collapsing.” And it’s collapsing into sickening violence.

He spoke with a contract killer, someone who has probably killed 500 people and who kills for cartels, the army, and the government. He said the killer was not deranged, not at all. “Terrible things are done by people who are completely normal.” That’s the truly hideous part about it. The killer, who once tortured two DEA informants for three days by burning them alive, was trained by the FBI when he was a police officer. Cops desert now to join the cartels, it pays better. Juarez is now so dangerous that contract killers live in El Paso because it’s safer and commute to Juarez to kill.

Mexico can’t shut down the cartels. Their oil fields are dying and will be depleted in nine years. Mexico’s primary source of income are drug profits and migrants sending money back home.

Bowden says, the war on drugs is lost and we need laws mandating that imported goods are not made by children and the people making them were paid a living wage. Otherwise they will keep coming here because they have little choice. That’s how to control the border. Give people reasons to stay in their own countries. And legalize drugs too.

He says we can’t deny what’s happening there, even if we want to. “You can not know of the slaughter running along the border and remain the same person… Once you know, you can’t ignore it.”

Posted in News

Mexico as semi-failed state that doesn’t want to stop drugs

Coming Anarchy summarizes Stratfor’s assessment that Mexico makes so much money from drugs that while it may try to whack a few cartels it doesn’t want to disrupt the aggregate flow of drugs and money.

Nederland CO just legalized marijuana. Not just small amounts, but completely. Legalization of marijuana is on the Calif. ballot in Nov. and will probably pass.

The drug cartels get 75% of their profits from marijuana. So legalization makes excellent sense.

Except for corrupt banks, hedge funds, politicians, and police that is. In addition to destroying their cash flow, legalization will also be a direct challenge to the federal government.

This is going to get real interesting.

I mean, what will the feds do, send in the Marines to eradicate the Humboldt pot farms?

I heard a story about Humboldt marijuana recently. A young man was hired by Park Service and told to go down streams and small rivers to determine if they’d changed course during the the Spring runoffs. They made a point of telling him, do not *ever* save time and cut across land. Stay in the water and make noise as you are coming. If you stumble across a growing operation, we’ll never find your body.

Multiply that by 100 for marijuana growing that drug cartels do here. Or for backwoods Southerners, for that matter. Marijuana is way more profitable than moonshine

Posted in News

Mexico drug cartel map


Map from Al Jazeera’s comprehensive Mexico in the Crossfire report. Phoenix AZ is now the cartel’s primary drug distribution point in the US and violence is escalating. So far it’s primarily been drug-related and between narcos. Let’s hope it stays that way. But even with that, neighborhoods and dangerous, there have been hundreds of kidnappings, and police worry about being outgunned.

The best way to end this madness is to legalize marijuana.

Via Barking up the wrong tree

Posted in News

Associates of Al Qaeda arrested by DEA on drug charges in Africa

Maghreb

Maghreb

All manner of criminals, terrorists, and renegades are linking up in a lawless area of northwest Africa. The DEA just arrested three of them, who were linked to al Qaeda, in a sting in Ghana. (How the DEA gets access into Ghana certainly bears pondering but this is no phony threat. Read on.)

Moreover, conversations among undercover informants and suspects suggest that the lawless region around the Gulf of Guinea is a crucible for alliances among groups united by hatred of the United States: Al Qaeda, Mexican gangsters, Colombian guerrillas and Lebanese militant groups.

“For the first time in that part of the world, these guys are operating in the same environment in the same place at the same time,” said Michael Braun, a former chief of DEA operations. “They are doing business and cutting deals. What’s most troubling about this is the personal relationships that these guys are making today, between drug organizations and terror organizations, will become operational alliances in the future.”

“The Moroccans have been pounding on the table warning about the involvement of al Qaeda in the Magreb in drug trafficking,” he said. “This shows they were right. Nobody in [Washington] has been talking about this threat. The only agency that has really gone after it is the DEA.”

While I’m sure some of the more deranged members of the far left will probably vow solidarity with the drug traffickers because they hate the US and therefore must be swell fellows, those of us living on planet Earth realize such poisonous and dangerous alliances should be stopped.

The simplest and best way to do that is, of course, by legalizing drugs.

Posted in News

DC police arrest fellow officer on murder charges related to drug robbery

marijuana

The officer allegedly helped plot a drug robbery then drove his squad car through the area with lights flashing to scare off rival gang members. But the ripoff went went bad and in the ensuing gun battle one of the robbers accidentally shot and killed his father. That makes it murder for anyone participating in the crime.

“Who will police the police?”

Also, was the officer a cop who became corrupt or a gang member who became a cop?

Really folks, let’s just legalize drugs, starting with marijuana (most drug profits come from it not other drugs.) This would get rid of the gangs, the drug violence, the money laundering, and the corruption of police. Our country would then be a vastly safer and more honest place.

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NSA surveillance



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