Tag Archives: Drug War

El Chapo (Shorty) Guzman on the Lam

El Chapo (Shorty) Guzman on the Lam

Although Mexico’s attorney general has called for a “full investigation” into Guzmán’s escape, we may never know exactly what happened. But if there is a level of complicity by the state, or state agencies, this would not be illogical. Friendly relations between the state and Guzmán would have a rational motive. Not for nothing did the Sinaloa cartel, until recently, have its own hangar at Mexico City airport, not far from the President’s.

In matters mafia, one of the dilemmas is whether it is harder for a state to live with an organised, patriarchal pyramid of power, like Guzmán’s, or the myriad mini-cartels, street-gang micro-cartels, so-called combos and super-combos, that arise if the pyramid is smashed. Which is worse: a formidable power with which some kind of accommodation is possible, or a narco-nuclear-fission reactor of electrons and protons charging into one another?

Colombia had to opt for smashing the pyramid, in the form of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, because it was becoming a a state within a state that threatened to take over. In the improving situation for Colombians, the problem is now the miasma of uncontrollable combos.

But the Mexican experience is different. The worst violence has ravaged the country since December 1996, when President Felipe Calderón sent the army into Tamaulipas and Michoacan to deal with insurgencies in those states by the Zetas and a cartel called La Familia, which were breaking up the prevailing order of things. Once the hornet’s nest was kicked, the killing accelerated as Guzmán laid claim to the whole frontier (previously allocated by his predecessor Gallardo) and the army and police established mafia systems of their own, often in league with one cartel or another.

In this war, Guzmán and the state have a common cause against the insurgents and new-wave cartels, and it is no secret that Mexico’s best bet in bringing down the violence is to back the strongest and biggest against its rivals, or at least to act in tandem. An official of the ruling PRI party, when it was fighting the last election, talked to me about the need for “adjustments” with the most powerful cartel.

The figures speak for themselves. For a while, in 2008, Tijuana was the most violent city in Mexico, as Guzmán assailed the local Arellano Felix cartel. Soon afterwards, Ciudad Juárez became the most dangerous city in the world, as Guzmán, the local Juárez cartel, army and police factions fought over local drug markets and smuggling routes to the US.

The military went into both places, followed by the Federal police, with Guzmán’s cartel gunmen on the slipstream of both, recruiting local gangs. Now, both cities are relatively quiet; no one knows quite why, but the most common (and terrifying) explanation is that Guzmán now runs the drug business – domestic and export – in both cities, with official or semi-official blessing.

The tunnel began with a 50-by-50-centimeter (20-by-20-inch) opening inside the shower of Guzman’s cell, Rubido said. The tunnel stretched for about a mile and ended inside a half-built house

To pull off the escape, it’s likely the Sinaloa cartel had spent years infiltrating the country’s prison system, a Mexican official said on Monday. Whoever helped in the plot likely had the architectural plans for the prison that pointed them toward the shower area, the official said.

Official: 'El Chapo' escape tunnel had motorcycle track

 As authorities detailed the evidence they’d found pointing to Guzman’s escape through the underground passageway, one drug war expert questioned Monday whether the notorious kingpin even used the tunnel at all.

“If he went out that tunnel, it was with an armed escort, most likely a mix of prison guards and his own people, if the past is prologue,” said Don Winslow, who’s tracked Guzman’s career for 15 years and wrote about a fictional version of the famed kingpin’s 2001 escape in his recent novel “The Cartel.”

“My bet is that he went out the front gate, and the tunnel was a tissue-thin face-saving device for Mexican officials, the motorcycle a dramatic improvement over the laundry cart.”

How did Guzman slip by the prison’s extensive network of security systems?

It’s likely prison workers played a role, Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said Monday as he announced that he’d fired the prison’s director and other prison officials as authorities continue their investigation.

Guzman, he said, was inside a cell with 24-hour hour closed circuit video surveillance and a bracelet that monitored his every move. The video system, he said, had two blind spots that Guzman exploited. And he left the bracelet behind before he crawled into the tunnel and made his getaway.

Mexico’s attorney general said Monday that 34 people had been questioned in connection with the escape. And the country’s interior minister asked for help from the public in tracking Guzman down.

Where could he be?

It’s possible Guzman is hiding out in the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City while the search is hot, accordintg to a Mexican official.

But in the end, the official said it’s likely Guzman will head back to his home turf in the Sinaloa region on the Pacific Coast, where there’s a vast network of local residents who will help him stay out of harm’s way. Guzman is believed to have found refuge at times during his past stints on the lam in rugged mountain areas of Mexico.

No matter where he’s hiding, time is of the essence, according to Mike Braun, a former chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration who spent years tracking and gathering evidence on Guzman.

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Posted by on 07/14/2015 in Crime Watch, Crime!


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Let’s just say no to the war on drugs


Suspected members of a drug trafficking ring are presented to the media at police headquarters in Bogota, Colombia, Monday Feb. 27, 2012.

Let’s just say no to the war on drugs

Let’s just say no to the war on drugs

Gen. Oscar Naranjo, director of National Police, said that 35 people sought by the U.S. for extradition were arrested during the weekend in several cities for allegedly being part of an organization known as the Clan of the Galeano. linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. (FERNANDO VERGARA / AP)

Having just returned from Colombia — once known as the cocaine capital of the world — it’s not hard to see why impoverished Colombians turn to the cultivation and production of coca leaf, cocaine and opium poppies.

The climate is receptive, money is scarce, and there are few substitutes for such a lucrative crop. The so-called “balloon effect” also makes any crackdown on production ineffective, since crop cultivation, drug laboratories, and transportation routes squeezed in one area will inevitably pop up elsewhere.

Is it time, then, for Canadian to revisit our endorsement of a “war on drugs” approach to the illicit drug problem in Latin America? Such a hard-line, often militarized, strategy to narcotrafficking has produced precious few tangible benefits.

Mexico has been fighting the drug war for almost six years now and the supply to the U.S. market has remained intact, or even increased. But on the Mexican side, there is violence and seemingly irreducible carnage in certain parts of the country. More than 50,000 drug-related deaths mark Mexico’s failed efforts thus far.

For the law and order government of Stephen Harper — who has made inter-American affairs a key priority of his foreign policy — any softening of a robust supply-side approach is simply not on.

Harper’s communications director, Andrew MacDougall, was blunt when he spoke to the Globe and Mail: “The prime minister would be a strong voice in that debate against the decriminalization of drugs. The government’s strategy is in fact completely in the opposite direction.”

Some political leaders and opinion-makers in the Americas, however, are now talking about legalizing and regulating the drug market or, at least, decriminalizing the region’s drug trade.

In a mid-April interview with Agence France Press, and just before the beginning of the VI Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Guatemala’s President Otto Perez Molina explained: “The war we have waged over the past 40 years has not yielded results. It’s a war which, to speak frankly, we are losing.”

Even the summit host country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, pushed for a vigorous discussion of drug legalization. He was adamant in a Miami Herald interview: “We know that our success has negatively affected other countries and we are pedaling and pedaling and pedaling like we’re on a stationary bike. The moment has come to analyze if what we we’re doing is best or if we can find a more effective and cheaper alternative for society.”

In the end, the summit nations agreed to punt the drug football down the field for the time being by calling for more study. Nonetheless, there is a growing mood in the region for something radically different and this desire for change is not likely to disappear soon.

But as Harper said during a summit news conference: “Let me remind you of why these drugs are illegal. They are illegal because they quickly and totally — with many of the drugs — destroy people’s lives and people are willing to make lots of money out of selling those products to people and destroying their lives.”

But the issue is not the harmful effects of heroin and cocaine. It’s about how best to regulate, confront and diminish the harmful effects of illicit drugs.

Obviously, Canada has important interests at stake, since drugs from Latin America do make their way to our streets. Often accompanying that flow of drugs is other crime, violent gang activity, and devastation of Canadian lives and families.

So if Canada is to jettison the “war on drugs” paradigm, how should we replace it?

First, the Canadian government needs to acknowledge that militarizing the drug war has been woefully unsuccessful and counterproductive. After that, we can start to think about providing financial assistance to improve the region’s police and justice systems, to halting any program that sprays harmful chemicals on farmers’ fields, and to assist many campesinos in finding alternative cash crops to coca leaf and poppies.

We should not rule out the possibility of working with our Latin American partners to decriminalize (beginning with marijuana) or legalize the drug business, especially if it serves to undermine the transnational criminal groups that control the drug trade.

As of today, though, Canada and the U.S. stand out as the major dissenting voices on combating the drug problem. By adopting this approach, we run the risk of damaging our image in the region, of being seen as obstructionist and overly U.S.-friendly, and even undermining our efforts to widen and deepen our linkages with the Americas. We should just say ‘Yes’ ourselves to new thinking.

Peter McKenna is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Posted by on 05/09/2012 in Crime!, Drugs


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Bogota- Police Chief calls on Colombia to decriminalize marijuana

Bogota- Police Chief calls on Colombia to decriminalize marijuana

Gen. Oscar Naranjo, with over 30 years of experience, proposes that drug use comes under state control

The director of Colombia‘s National Police, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, who leaves office this summer, decided to make a stopover in the war on drugs to explore alternatives, including consumption of marijuana under state control.

“You have to make a stop on the way,” Naranjo asked in an extensive interview with the Colombian daily El Tiempo, which said that he favors a debate to explore “new policies around prevention and repression “of drugs.

Naranjo, who is stepping down this summer after more than three decades of service in the institution, he argued that “talk of decriminalization or legalization or decriminalization of drugs should be the outcome of the debate and not the gateway to the discussion, because this debate needs more solid and consistent.”

He should tell the truth about drugs, because the information available on them “is vague and inconsistent,” he claimed and stressed that in the streets of the world drugs are consumed “at least 480 different substances.” differentiating between them is necessary because there are “soft, like marijuana, very hard, as the acids that kill and cause irreparable addiction, and drugs like cocaine and heroin that are in that middle world, causing extensive damage to the health of addicts, “said Naranjo.

In this regard, he said “it would be extremely irresponsible” for society to remain undaunted against substances that kill the people, but should also consider the other end, which is marijuana, which is less harmful or addictive lethal, as demonstrated by science. Then we “have to raise regularization on marijuana.” The general, conditions for consumption that are set by the state, which must stop criminalizing the making use of it.

In the case of other drugs, “we must pursue them. That absolute prohibition itself, because it is tested (…) that cause lethal damage and harmful, “he said Naranjo, whose task in the fight against drug trafficking and illegal armed groups left great results that have been recognized internationally.

According to him, roads and consumption of marijuana can be controlled to release state forces that henceforth, it will focus on “the persecution of organizations (of traffickers) and not the consumer.”

The police chief said his country welcomes, which has moral authority on the problem, now promotes the discussion without pressure from drug traffickers and continental leadership of President Juan Manuel Santos.

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Posted by on 04/23/2012 in Drugs, Politics


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