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Asia the Next target for the Drug Cartels

Mexican soldiers unload bundles of seized marijuana before incinerating the drugs at a military base in Tijuana, Mexico.

David Maung | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mexican soldiers unload bundles of seized marijuana before incinerating the drugs at a military base in Tijuana, Mexico.

Latin American drug syndicates are sweeping into Asia, spurred by growing wealth, regional trade pacts that ease smuggling and some of the highest margins on offer.

Growth in the drugs trade, a significant part of an illicit economy worth more than $100 billion a year in east Asia alone, has led to a rapid rise in seizures: 254 million methamphetamine pills, for example, were intercepted in east and Southeast Asia in 2013 — a more than eight fold increase in just five years.

Officials warn that Asian law enforcement authorities are ill-equipped to cope with the rapid rise of drugs being smuggled across increasingly porous borders.

“Police and customs officials in Asia don’t often have connections in the Americas and have little knowledge of what may be coming their way,” said Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. “They don’t operate internationally. They’re about to have to.”

For those who are caught, the risks outweigh the rewards, with the death penalty operating for drugs offences in several Asian jurisdictions.

The Philippines, which has debated introducing the death sentence for drug offences, is the test bed for a pioneering case next month, when Mexican national Horatio Hernandez Herrera appears in court accused of being a high-ranking member of the notorious Sinaloa drugs cartel.

At a regional meeting in Bangkok last month, representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations raised red flags, saying that despite the potential for economic growth and trade, the region’s rapidly increasing connectivity could leave borders vulnerable to transnational trafficking and smuggling.

“Strengthening skills, capacity and cross-border co-operation among border and port security agencies is therefore essential to counter rapidly evolving transnational crime challenges,” said Jakkrit Srivali, a top official with Thailand’s foreign affairs ministry.

 

Growing wealth in Asia has translated into heightened demand for cocaine, with emerging pockets of consumption, trafficking and trade, according to a report last year from the UN office.

Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa cartel, whose head Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán staged a sensational jailbreak last month, has been pinpointed as a key supplier by authorities across Asia-Pacific.

The Jalisco New Generation cartel, an aggressive newcomer to Mexico’s drug wars that achieved notoriety in recent months after shooting down a military helicopter, is also targeting markets in Hong Kong and Japan, according to Canacintra, a Mexican business chamber.

“The severe penalties, such as life imprisonment or even the death penalty, for traffickers caught in Asia are reflected in the exorbitant price of the drugs there,” organisation president Rodrigo Alpízar Vallejo told media in Mexico.

Asia-Pacific economies offer much higher profit margins than the cartel’s traditional markets. In Hong Kong, a kilogramme of cocaine can sell for up to three times the price it would in the US. In Australia, it can be as much as six times, according to police and experts.

Meanwhile, according to financial crime investigators, the cartels will be closely studying regional trade deals, such as the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership, for clues about the liberalisation of certain routes or the reduction of tariffs on certain goods, which could be used to hide contraband and assist in the trade-based repatriation of smuggling profits.

“Anything that is going to increase the volume of trade, the efficacy of trade, is also going to increase the opportunity and bandwidth of criminals to move their products and launder funds,” said Bill Majcher, who worked with American and Canadian federal police.

“Over the past few decades I have seen a dramatic increase in trade-based laundering closely correlated with the opening up of transnational trade zones and treaties,” said another investigator, who asked to remain anonymous due to ongoing operations.

Robert Evan Ellis, professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College and an expert on the region’s relations with China, said the deal would “expand opportunities for transpacific organised crime by increasing trade volume, and the number of banks and companies doing transpacific transactions”.

However, he noted that regional ties fostered by the deal would “indirectly help increase law enforcement and transpacific legal frameworks that will help combat the cartels”.

Credit; Bryan Harris Financial Times

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Posted by on 09/25/2015 in Crime!, Mexican Drug Cartels

 

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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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More than a Hundred bodies dissolved in acid, located on the property of The Pozolero

Tijuana – The deputy against Organized Crime in Baja California, Abel Galván Gallardo said he found a second narcofosa

more than 100 dead bodies located that had been dissolved in acid

The deputy against Organized Crime in Baja California, Abel Galván Gallardo, confirmed the discovery of what could be more than a hundred bodies dissolved in acid, on a property owned by Santiago Meza “The Pozolero” where experts from The Attorney General’s Office (PGR), conducted excavations on Thursday located a second narcofosa on the grounds.

Whole bodies were not spotted until, the elements of the PGR and the Attorney General of Baja California found organic mass, but still digs for bones and teeth, as these tend to be placed at the bottom of the points excavated, said Fernando Ocegueda, representative of the United Association for the Disappeared.

Ocegueda Flores, said that this is the third piece of land owned by “The Pozolero” where human remains are discovered: the first was called ‘Ojo de Agua’ where in 2009, after the arrest of Santiago Meza, several bodies were discovered, the second , called Loma Bonita, and the third called La Gallera, located in the ejido Maclovio Rojas of this city.

Meanwhile, Abel Galvan found that “there may be more than one hundred bodies and diluted (are to) expected to find any particles or bone that has comparative and junction with existing genetic information in the databases of dependency” .

In this third field, experts sent by the PGR located a room with artifacts and drums that could have been used for the dissolution of bodies and a canal that opens into the pit where the bodies were going to stop in liquid, mainly of his chief rivals, the kingpin Teodoro Garcia Simental, alias “El Teo”.

Meanwhile, the human rights activist Victor Clark, said that the practice of dissolving the bodies to hide them, was very handy in the middle of this decade, but in recent years, was changed to the bodies being placed in water in order to intimidate the rival organized crime gangs

 
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Posted by on 11/30/2012 in Crime!

 

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The Tacks, leader of the Arellano Felix in Tijuana Arrested

Alfredo César García Meza was turned over to federal authorities for his extradition to the U.S.

 

The Tacks, leader of the Arellano Felix in Tijuana Arrested

TIJUANA, Elements of the State Preventive Police (PEP) Alfredo Meza apprehended César García, alias “El Tacks”, alleged leader of the Arellano Felix cartel in the border and who is wanted by U.S. authorities.

The director of the corporation owned by the Ministry of Public Security of the state, Marco Antonio Gómez Montoya said also stopped other alleged members of the criminal group, including a woman.

He explained that Garcia Meza was wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S., so this subject was made available to federal authorities for his extradition to the United States.

The official said that agents also arrested PEP Lagunas Adrian Vazquez, alias “El Macho Prieto” and other alleged members of that cartel, which disintegrated into a dangerous crime cell operating in this border.

The incident occurred on Boulevard Agua Caliente in this city, when Garcia Meza was recognized by police officers and confirmed his identity after it was discovered that he had a provisional warrant for extradition to the United States on charges of organized crime.

After which the police moved to the colony of Sepanal, where Joselyn and Leslie Marquez, 23, acted to commit an act of crime in a subdivision of Playas de Tijuana.

There also arrested Zazueta Luis Angel Cornejo, with one kilogram of cocaine, whose was paid $ 500.

In colonia Terrazas del Valle, agents intercepted a Ford Explorer 2002 and detained foreign plates Lagunas Vazquez and his companion Luis Gabriel Ramirez Duenas.

Both suspects were arrested and guns, drugs, a charger and plastic scrap for drug dosing was seized.

Later, in the Buena Vista neighborhood, she assured José Francisco Farias Prado, alias “Chucho”, who was driving a vehicle Geo Metro 1991, a wrapper with the drug known as “ice”.

The detainees were turned over to the appropriate authorities.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 09/28/2012 in Crime!, Mexican Drug Cartels

 

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The escort El Mayo Zambada’s son captured in Ensenada

The state Public Security Secretariat reported that Santos Lara, 26, escaped last January of a criminal Sinaloa

 

The escort El Mayo Zambada’s son captured

ENSENADA, The State Preventive Police (PEP) arrested Juan Ángel Santos Lara, who at the time of his arrest was carrying two firearms and rounds of ammunition and allegedly worked as an escort for a son of Ismael El Mayo Zambada.

The state Public Security Secretariat reported that Santos Lara, 26, escaped last January and was a criminal who sought refuge in Sinaloa and Baja California.

He said the capture of Santos Lara was made on Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas Boulevard corner Estancia, fractionation of Acapulco, where the agents ordered him to stop while riding aboard a pick-up truck GMC Sierra.

The escapee was identified with a driver’s license in the name of Pedro Nunez, 26, but then he confirmed his identity and was actually named Juan Angel Santos Lara, 26, a native of Guamuchil, Sinaloa.

During a precaution review he was found to have a concealed weapon tucked in his waist, a nine millimeter firearm, two thousand dollars, $ 40 and two envelopes with white powder which appears to be cocaine was seized.

Also seized in the arrest was a firearm caliber 25 mm supplied with five rounds of ammunition and a magazine with 10 cartridges, 39 shots nine millimeter caliber, 10 caliber ammunition 45, 15 rounds .38 Super and .25 caliber seven shots.

To verify your identity, Juan Ángel Santos proved that Lara was arrested in 2008 in possession of several long firearms, including a .50 caliber barret and fragmentation grenades.

After this arrest he escaped from prison to work as an escort Ismael Zambada alias El Mayito , son of Ismael El Mayo Zambada Garcia, leader of the Sinaloa cartel along with Joaquin El Chapo Guzman Loera.

However, the alleged offender was arrested again in November 2011, but in January 2012 he escaped with four other subjects from a penitentiary in Sinaloa with the help of a custodian of that criminal.

In this custodian allegedly paid the sum of 300 thousand dollars to facilitate the escape, so that also has an arrest warrant for the crime of escape of prisoners.

Currently residing in Lara Santos Juan Diego Residential fractionation Ensenada, municipality where you purchased taxis and went to work on public transport.

It also engaged in planting, harvesting and sale of marijuana for the Sinaloa cartel, said it unnerving to have crops in the village of El Pino, in the state of Sinaloa.

A Lara Santos also been linked as the perpetrator of a murder recorded in the mountains of Sinaloa, in revenge for the murder of his brother.

After his arrest in Baja California port, PEP agents moved to Tijuana, where apparently the subject had houses that presumably concealed firearms.

The detainee was turned over to the Attorney General’s Office.

 
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Posted by on 09/26/2012 in Crime!

 

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Eduardo Arellano Felix, will be tried in the U.S. tomorrow

Manuel Ocaño, correspondent for Notimex San Diego.

The last of the Arellano Felix brothers will be tried in the U.S. tomorrow

The eldest brother, Francisco Rafael, was sent to San Diego in September 2006. He was the first major Mexican drug lord to be extradited

The Justice Department on Tuesday presented before a court in San Diego Eduardo Arellano Felix, the last of the five brothers who founded the cartel with his surname in U.S. courts face.

Eduardo Arellano Felix, the last of the five brothers will be put on trial starting Tuesday

Eduardo Arellano Felix is ​​charged with conspiracy, trafficking tons of cocaine and marijuana and money laundering, according to official information.

Extradited from Mexico last week, Eduardo, 55, is the last of five brothers who founded the Tijuana drug gang face justice in U.S., except Ramon, who was killed in a shootout in Sinaloa in February 2002.

Francisco Javier El Tigrillo, the youngest brother, was captured at sea off coast of Baja California Sur by the U.S. Coast Guard on August 24, 2006 and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in San Diego on 6 November 2007.

The eldest brother, Francisco Rafael, was extradited to San Diego in September 2006, after spending ten years in a prison in Mexico. It was the first major Mexican drug lord to be extradited to the United States.

Francisco Rafael, 62, has been in all the Arellano Felix brothers who faced lesser charges in San Diego, just to attempt to sell nine ounces (about 258 grams) of cocaine to an undercover agent.

The drug dealer has pleaded not guilty, was tried, and he gave the U.S. authorities on the border between El Paso (Texas) and Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua), on February 2, 2008. As he had already served his sentence in Mexico was released.

Benjamin The Min , 58, was extradited to California on November 29, 2011. Under an agreement with federal prosecutors he avoided a potential sentence of 150 years was sentenced to 25 years in prison and $ 100 million for the Treasury.

He was returned to Mexico to finish serving his sentence of 22 years in prison, of which he had already served 17.

 
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Posted by on 09/04/2012 in Crime!, Mexican Drug Cartels

 

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Mexico extradites former drug lord Eduardo Arellano Felix to U.S.A.

Responds to a court in San Diego on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and drug trafficking

Mexico extradites former drug lord Eduardo Arellano Felix to U.S.A.

The government of Mexico extradites Eduardo Arellano Felix to the U.S., to respond to charges of conspiracy, money laundering and trafficking in cocaine and marijuana in a court in San Diego, California, on.

The attorney for the California border city with Mexico, Laura Duffy, reported that the government of Mexico had been requested since 2010 to extradite Arellano Felix who was arrested in October 2008 in Tijuana, Baja California.

The former head of the organization of the Arellano Felix will be filed with the federal court in San Diego on 4 September.

“We thank the Government of Mexico for this extradition,” Duffy said, adding that delivery of Arellano Felix is ​​”a step in bringing to justice another figure U.S. to face drug trafficking charges serious.”

The regional director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), William Sherman, said for his part that “the extradition of Eduardo Arellano Felix marks the end of 20 years of research by the DEA to the cartel.”

He said Arellano Felix’s extradition “illustrates how the DEA and other agencies to relentlessly pursue drug traffickers to bring them to justice.”

The indictment states that Eduardo Arellano Felix and other leaders of the organization are responsible for purchasing large quantities of cocaine to Colombian groups.

 
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Posted by on 09/01/2012 in Border, Crime!

 

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