marijuana

Peru escalates cannabis crackdown

Peru's National Police on Feb. 4 announced the discovery of over 100,000 cannabis plants at the high Andean community of Minasel, 4,000 meters above sea level, on the border of Áncash and Huánuco regions. The plants were burned in the fields, police said, while the growers escaped into the mountains. (RPP, Feb. 4) On Jan. 15, elite troops of the Special Anti-drug Operation Division eradicated 65,000 plants of moño rojo (red bud) at the remote mountain village of San Martín de Porres, Chinchao district, Huánuco. (Peru21, Jan. 15)

Blood avocados: Michoacán cartels co-opt ag-biz

Mexico's violence-torn state of Michoacán produces millions of kilos each year of its famous specialty crop, highly prized in US markets... Yes, avocados. Michoacán accounts for 72% of total Mexican production of this rich, green fruit, and over 80% of the state's output is exported to the United States. The trade amounts to nearly a billion dollars a year—even ahead of the state's notorious (and prohibition-inflated) marijuana. But now the two industries are experiencing a grim synergy, as narco lords acquire avocado plantations to launder money, facilitate smuggling and maintain a cover of "legitimate" income. According to a recent exposé in Mexico's Vanguardia newspaper, the Knights Templar cartel has in recent years been running an extortion racket on avocado farmers, seizing their lands if they can't pay up (on pain of family members being abducted and threatened with death), building a "legal" agrarian empire in the state. The local agribusiness association, with the clunky name of the Michoacán State Committee on Vegetable Health, has been co-opted by the Templarios through threats and bribes, according to the report.

FARC proposal to protect coca, cannabis growers

At the peace talks with the Colombian government that just re-convened in Havana after a holiday break, the FARC rebels released a proposal Jan. 14 outlining a plan to decriminalize and "regulate the production of coca, poppies and marijuana." The proposal came in a lengthy document entitled "The National Program of the Substitution of the Illicit Uses of Coca, Poppy, or Marijuana Crops," described in a press release as a "special chapter of rural and agricultural reform, social-environmental reform, democracy reform, and participatory reform." The guerrilla group, said to largely finance itself through the drug trade, agreed that growers should be encouraged "to voluntarily grow alternative crops"—a reference to the largely ineffectual crop substitution programs the US has long funded in Colombia. But FARC negotiator Pablo Catatumbo rejected the model of prohibition and eradication. "Instead of fighting the production [of illicit substances] it's about regulating it and finding alternatives," he said. "The fundamental basis of this plan lies in its voluntary and collaborative nature, and in the political will on the part of the growers to take alternative paths to achieve humane living and working conditions." Catatumbo also said that the "medicinal, therapeutic and cultural" uses of the substances should be taken into account.

Colombia: US suspends spraying after pilots downed

News accounts revealed in December that the US-funded glyphosate spraying in Colombia has been indefinitely suspended after presumed FARC guerillas shot down two fumigation planes—killing one US pilot. One plane came down Sept. 27, killing the pilot, whose name was not revealed. Reports were unclear where this incident took place. The Los Angeles Times on Dec. 17 named the village of Tarra, which is in Norte de Santander, along the Venezuelan border; Bogotá's El Tiempo implied it was in the southern jungle department of Putumayo. A second crop-duster was brought down Oct. 5, apparently at a location in Caquetá—also in the southern jungle. This prompted the US embassy to halt the spraying, according to anonymous sources. Neither the embassy nor the State Department would confirm the report.

Persian Gulf militarized —by drug war

The past year has seen a spate of dangerous brinkmanship in the Persian Gulf, with Iran and US naval forces along with those of the Gulf's oil-rich Arab mini-states playing chicken over the strategic choke-point of the Strait of Hormuz. But in addition to this show-down over a global oil outlet, the Gulf has seen escalating militarization in the guise of narcotics enforcement. Bahrain's Gulf Daily News on Nov. 26 ran a story boasting of the exploits of a 29-nation Combined Maritime Forces group, based at the petro-kingdom's sprawling US Navy base and commanded by Capt. Robert Slaven of the Royal Australian Navy. While it claims to have "considerably reduced the number of terrorist attacks in the region" over the past decade, it's most concrete gains are hashish and heroin seizures.

Mexico narco networks inside and outside prisons

A new riot between rival gangs in the dangerously overcrowded prison at  Altamira, in the Mexican border state Tamaulipas, left seven inmates dead Oct. 26.  State authorities said the prisoners were killed with makeshift knives in a fight in one cellblock at the facility, officially known as the Execution and Sanction Center (CEDES). Thirty-one inmates died in a riot in the same prison early last year, pointing to a crisis rooted in the confluence of teeming lock-ups and the bloody narco wars being waged in Tamaulipas both inside and outside the prisons. The state is currently Mexico's most violent. The CEDES was designed to hold 2,000 inmates, but now has a population of more than 3,000. (APNotimex, Oct. 26)

Mexico: narcos abduct migrants —again

In very disturbing news from Mexico's northeast border state of Tamaulipas, police on Oct. 1 said they rescued 73 abducted migrants outside Reynosa after following their apparent captors to a house and hearing frantic calls for help. Of the victims, 37 were Mexicans, 19 were from Honduras, 14 from Guatemala and another three from El Salvador. They included women and minors, some of whom reported having been sexually abused. Three suspects were detained, who are believed to have seized the migrants on buses they stopped in the desert. Some of the victims had been held for up to four months while their captors demanded payment from their families, police said. Weapons and drugs were also seized at the home, including nearly 700 rounds of bullets, a hand grenade, and almost 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) of what was "believed to be" marijuana. (Reuters, Oct. 2)

Mexico: notorious kingpin Caro Quintero freed

Mexico's most notorious kingpin, Rafael Caro Quintero, was released Aug. 9 from Puente Grande federal prison in Jalisco where he had been incarcerated for the past 28 years. He left the facility at dawn, several hours before the release order was made public. The First Appellate Tribunal in Guadalajara found in March that Caro Quintero was improperly tried for the 1985 torture-killing of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, and that charges should have been brought at the state rather than federal level. Federal prosecutors immediately appealed to the Supreme Justice Court of the Nation, which refused to rescind the lower court's decision. The Third Circuit Tribunal, also in Guadalajara, has now followed through by issuing Caro Quintero an amparo—a judicial order barring any federal action against him. 

Syndicate content