Since voters in Washington and Colorado opted on Election Day to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, the Department of Justice has been relatively quiet over how it will handle what is likely to become a heated debate regarding states’ rights. In an article published by The New York Times this week, reporter Charlie Savage says senior White House and Justice Department officials are already attempting to tackle how to handle the new marijuana laws, and are amid deliberations right now that will determine when, where and how national law enforcement can intervene.
Savage cites anonymous sources familiar with the discussions in DC, whom he says are considering plans for legal action against the states of Colorado and Washington. Meanwhile this week the Obama administration once again chimed in on the topic, but as with earlier abbreviated statements, the only words out of the nation’s capital forecast an ominous battle likely to brew for some time.
When the results of the legislations up for vote in both states trickled through on the evening of Election Day, the Justice Department dispatched a short statement clarifying the federal classification of marijuana as an illegal substance. This week, the United States attorney for Seattle, WA once again warned that federal law is still on the books.
“In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” state attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced in a statement. “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”Additionally, the New York Times quotes Durkan as saying the Justice Department maintains that its "responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," meaning federal law enforcement isn’t necessarily interested in adhering to local rules.
But as the dawn of legalization arrives, Washington and Colorado, where a similar law passed last month, now face some genuinely complicated dilemmas: How on Earth do you go about creating a functioning legal-weed market? How do you ensure adults the freedom to use pot responsibly, or not so responsibly, while keeping it away from teenagers?
And perhaps most pressingly, will the Justice Department just stand by while the states issue licenses to the growers, processors and sellers of a substance that, under federal law, remains very much illegal?
"We're building this from the ground all the way up," said Brian Smith, spokesman for the Washington Liquor Control Board, which is charged with regulating the drug. "The initiative didn't just wave a magic wand and make everybody here an expert on marijuana."
The measures approved on Nov. 6 have two main facets. First, they OK the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults over 21. That took effect Thursday in Washington, though it remains illegal — for now — to buy and sell pot, so people have to keep getting it from the marijuana fairy.
In Colorado, where pot fans will also be able to grow their own plants, the law takes effect by Jan. 5.
The other part of the measures, the regulatory schemes, are trickier. Washington's Liquor Control Board, which has been regulating alcohol for 78 years, has a year to adopt rules for the fledgling pot industry: How many growers, processors and stores should there be in each county? Should there be limits on potency? How should the pot be inspected, packaged and labeled?
When it premiered at South By Southwest in March, Code of the West was an eye-opening, at times gripping, chronicle of Montana’s battle over medical marijuana—and a window into the high-stakes standoff between states that legalize it and a federal government devoted to the War on Drugs. After a pro-legalization voter initiative passed with strong bipartisan support in 2004, tens of thousands of Montana residents obtained medical marijuana cards and dispensaries cropped up with little regulation. The proliferation of pot paraphernalia led to hysteria; activists like Cherrie Brady, co-founder of a group called Safe Communities, Safe Kids, warned that the drug was seeping into schools and creating a whole generation of drug addicts—a claim with no basis in reality.
Mere months after the Code of the West premiered, a number of its protagonists were indicted on federal drug charges. The film’s main character, affable pro-legalization lobbyist and former managing partner of Montana Cannabis, Tom Daubert, pled guilty and was given five years probation. Another partner, Chris Lindsay, struck a deal as well. But their former partner, Chris Williams, refused to plead guilty to conduct that his own state did not consider criminal. (When viewers first meet Williams, he is chatting cordially with state authorities touring his operation; he vows to show them around whenever they wish. Later, he acknowledges the contradiction. "Even now, the DEA could come kick our door in and arrest us all.") The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibited Williams from invoking the legality of the state law at the time of the raid, so the fact that he was in compliance with Montana law has no bearing on his fate. Today, Williams, who has a teenage son, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of more than 80 years in prison.
More tragic still, 68-year-old Richard Flor, a Vietnam veteran who does not appear in the film, was given a five-year sentence and died in federal custody this past summer. “I wasn’t planning on being a martyr or ending my life in prison,” says Tom Daubert at the start of the film. But for Flor, this is exactly what happened.
Milton Friedman puts forward a compelling case for the legalization of drugs.
Drug prohibitionists like former White House drug czar staffer Kevin A. Sabet seem to be in a panic over Ken Burns' PBS documentary broadcast "Prohibition" because of its clear and convincing parallel to today's equally disastrous war on drugs. The earlier experiment lasted less than 14 years, but today’s failed prohibition was declared by President Nixon 40 years ago and has cost our country more than $1 trillion in cash and much more in immeasurable social harm.
As a student of history and a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department, I can attest that the damage that came from the prohibition of alcohol pales in comparison to the harm wrought by drug prohibition. In the last 40 years drug money has fueled the growth of violent street gangs in Los Angeles, from two (Bloods and Crips) with a membership of less than 50 people before the drug war to 20,000 gangs with a membership of about 1 million across the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice. These gangs serve as the distributors, collection agents and enforcers for the Mexican cartels that the Justice Department says occupy more than 1,000 U.S. cities.
Sabet, a former advisor to the White House drug policy advisor, ignores these prohibition-created harms, making no mention of the nearly 50,000 people killed in Mexico over the last five years as cartels have battled it out to control drug routes, territories and enforce collections. When one cartel leader is arrested or killed, it makes no impact on the drug trade and only serves to create more violence, as lower-level traffickers fight for the newly open top spot.
U.S. law enforcement officials report that as much as 70% of cartel profits come from marijuana alone. There's no question that ending today's prohibition on drugs -- starting with marijuana -- would do more to hurt the cartels than any level of law enforcement skill or dedication ever can.
Worse than being ineffective, though, the war on drugs creates dangerous distractions for police officers who would rather focus on improving public safety. For example, the LAPD announced this week that it will take 150 police officers off the streets to accommodate the state's shuffling of prisoners to the county level. The state must do this to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's order to cut our drug-war-induced overcrowded prison population by 30,000 -- and our state has already laid off thousands of teachers thanks in part to funding diverted to building more prisons and hiring more guards.
This follows on the heels of another reallocation of police resources in Los Angeles when the LAPD and the L.A. Sheriff's Department woke up to a three-year backlog of rape kits. Police labs have only a finite amount of resources, and drug testing often takes priority over other cases that demand attention. Detectives (and victims) waiting for lab results related to rape and other serious crimes stood in line for months while tests for custody-related possession of pot and other drugs took precedence.
There's no doubt that the violence, the growth of cartels and gangs, the overpopulation of our prisons and the squandering of our police resources would not occur if we eliminated illegal drug profits and implemented a non-criminal approach to regulating drugs. We did this once with alcohol, and there's no reason we can't do it with other drugs today.
-- Stephen Downing
Prohibition is not the solution
I am totally against the Drug Prohibition Regime and can't wait to see it thrown away into the dustbin of history greatest inequities humankind has inflicted on itself. I would have thought that any rational, responsible and caring individual could see that drug abuse and its profoundly disruptive consequences calls for enlightened policies where education, health and regulation would play central roles; that it calls for policies where no room is left for the Victorian values Prohibitionists seem so keen on: abstinence or punishment.
One can only assume that something deeply ideological, prejudicial or irrational prevents people from understanding that the problem is prohibition, and not the drugs themselves; that no matter what drug one is considering, prohibition is not the solution … far from it. If anything, what decades of pursuing and enforcing the prohibition regime and its dastardly offshoot, the so-called War on Drugs, have taught us is that it can only make things worse! […]
The government's hypocrisy
It is a stretch to assume that the social and health problems associated with alcohol abuse can in any way be compared to those caused by the use of cannabis. Alcohol destroys the internal organs of abusers. Marijuana has no known long-term effects. Alcohol is highly addictive. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Cannabis is less addictive than caffeine and withdrawal, at worst, amounts to a few restless nights and a few days of low appetite. Alcohol is the fuel of all kinds of violence. Marijuana users tend to be quiet and communal.
What is amazing to me is that our government supports and collects taxes on the two deadliest drugs in our society, alcohol and tobacco, but wants to send people to jail for making the much more rational choice to use marijuana recreationally instead.
What would Thomas Jefferson do?
The cruelest irony of this issue is that many far right goons, the so called champions of getting the government out of our lives and expanding freedom, have always been the biggest advocates of this outdated, morally wrong, government intrusion into our lives and denying us our "right to happiness", which Thomas Jefferson, the hard drug alcohol drinker, so correctly protected us with. George Washington gave his troops rum every day to keep them happy.
My life, my decision
The overriding question that the Mr Sabet clearly misses is this: Should the government be in the business of telling responsible adults what they can and cannot ingest? Many of us say "no" to that, while many folks who call themselves conservative and say they want less government in their lives nonetheless accept that nanny-state role. What I believe government should do is offer factual education regarding what drugs of all kinds can do to people, regulate the purity of drugs, continue to punish irresponsible behavior that endangers innocent people (such as driving under the influence, etc), and then trust the rest of us grown ups to enjoy life responsibly in whatever way we choose.
Nothing will change
This article is a laugher for many reasons:
1. Part of the human condition is to seek mood-altering substances, aka get "buzzed." Been going on for about 100,000 years or so, live with it.
2. In spite of all the laws that prohibit it, Americans continue to pursue an artificial high, regardless of the consequences. Laws DO NOT have a deterrent effect on consumption.
3. The cost of drug laws on society has been astounding. We have incarcerated generations of minorities, forced the status of "convicted felon" on hundreds of thousands of people with the attendant impact on society - with no impact on drug consumption.
4. The war on drugs has been an epic failure in every measurable category except one: a growth industry for the criminal justice system.
5. The public is already saturated with the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol. A change of legalization will not change consumption patterns that much. Those inclined to use will continue to, those that do not want the risk will refuse.
6. The odds of getting busted for drug possession, unless you are a minority in a gang neighborhood, is virtually non-existent. Therefore, in practical terms, it's already available on demand.
7. The impact of alcohol and tobacco dwarfs the impact of drugs, legal or not. We lose over 400,000 to nicotine addiction, and another 50,000 or so to booze EVERY YEAR.
Secret: nothing will change.
The goal was to curb production of methamphetamine by cutting off key ingredients. It worked: Domestic production of methamphetamine fell. But a blow to meth labs in the United States became, in turn, a boon to a group in Mexico.
La Familia started manufacturing meth a few years earlier in the western state of Michoacán. By 2006, the group had emerged as a major distributor.
No one claims that the emergence of La Familia was the direct result of the US law. But US production of meth has decreased dramatically since 2004, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center's National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment of 2008.
A global report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime from 2008 also shows a 92 percent decline in the number of large-capacity labs in the US from 2001 to 2007. But in the same period, methamphetamine seized along the Mexican border dramatically increased. (There was a significant dip again in 2007, but seizure numbers are still higher than they were in 2001.)
Experts say that the expansion of meth networks operated by Mexican organizations is a major factor in the sustained meth supplies in the US today, even with new import restrictions on chemicals in Mexico.
Some are not surprised.
"The entire history of US interdiction policies toward Latin America in the 20th century has created that pattern. The inadvertent [results] of crackdowns or interdiction policies in the Andes, and in the Caribbean, have always had enormously adverse effects," says Paul Gootenberg, a history professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and the author of "Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug."
Even meth's surging popularity was in part created by the crackdown on cocaine. In other words, he says, this is an old story about unintended consequences.
US Attorneys in California will send out more letters today to California dispensaries and their landlords telling them to shut their doors or face civil asset forfeiture. By threatening to involve the IRS, they’re effectively trying to treat those who provide safe access to patients as if they were Al Capone.
Meanwhile, a clear and present danger grows unabated south of the border. Far beyond any old-timey gangland massacre, the Mexican Drug War is now a genocide easily ten times worse than the 9/11 attacks. But the fact remains that there is nothing the DEA can do under the current policies of prohibition to quench the insatiable demand driving this bloodbath.
As we were reminded this week in Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” documentary, outlawing private conduct doesn’t work. Cracking down on the dispensary system only empowers the black market. The government knows they’re fighting a losing battle, and yet politicians still cling to the idea that busting potheads is a safe political bet. But former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper came around. US Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) came around. Even US Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) has started to come around.
United Sates(Reuters) - Law enforcement officials in Arizona seized thousands of pounds of narcotics and arrested at least 70 suspected drug smugglers with apparent ties to a violent drug cartel in Mexico, an official involved with the investigation in the U.S. Southwest told Reuters on Sunday. The operation, which included three raids conducted jointly by local, state, and federal officials over 17 months, led to the arrests of Mexican and American nationals working with the notorious drug cartel based in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Authorities confiscated drugs, money, weapons, ammunition, and bullet-proof vests, cracking a "sophisticated network" of international drug smuggling in one of the largest such operations conducted in the Southwestern United States, the official said. Drugs were smuggled from Mexico into Arizona by car, plane, on foot, and through tunnels. "This is one of the more substantial drug-smuggling operations going on right now. This is a billion-dollar drug trade organization linked to the cartel," the official said. The cartel is headquartered in the northwestern state of Sinaloa on Mexico's Pacific coast, an area home to big marijuana and opium poppy plantations and considered the cradle of Mexican narcotics trafficking since the 1960s. The cartel is believed to handle 65 percent of all drugs illegally transported to the United States, drug experts say. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his military campaign against the cartels after he took office in late 2006. Further details of the operation will be released at a press conference at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration field office in Phoenix on Monday. The raids were overseen by the DEA, Arizona state officials, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The official said the operation will shed light on elaborate drug smuggling into the United States and said the contraband confiscated in the raids was "jaw-dropping." Officials captured some of the key players in the smuggling operation, the source said, adding that the suspects will be prosecuted at the state level. The official said law enforcement officials are still looking for dozens of people in connection with the operation.
(Reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh)
ColombiaColombia – United States relations have evolved from mutual cordiality during most of the 19th and early 20th centuries to a recent partnership that links the governments of both nations around several key issues, including fighting communism, the War on Drugs, and especially since 9/11, the threat of terrorism. During the last fifty years, different American governments and their representatives have become involved in Colombian affairs through the implementation of policies concerned with the above issues. Some critics of current US policies in Colombia, such as Law Professor John Barry, consider that US influences have catalyzed internal conflicts and substantially expanded the scope and nature of human rights abuses in Colombia.  Supporters, such as Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, consider that the U.S. has promoted respect for human rights and the rule of law in Colombia, in addition to the fight against drugs and terrorism. 
According to author Robin Kirk,who says, most Americans remain naïve about the role of the United States in Colombia's historical development and the nation's continuing violence. 
Colombia's own history has been studied from the perspective of the so-called the "violentologist", a new type of social scientist created in order to analyze the nature and development of the country's violence.  Camilo A. Azcarate has attributed the violence to three main causes:
- a weak central state,
- poverty, and an
- elite political system which excludes the less affluent of society. 
Both countries maintained mutual diplomatic relationships since the early 19th Century. In 1846 the US Polk administration signed a treaty with Colombia, which owned Panama at the time. A railway across the isthmus was opened in 1855.  Under the treaty U.S. troops landed in Panama six times in the nineteenth century to crush rebellions, ensuring that the railway wasn't hindered. 
In 1903 the US and Colombia negotiated a new treaty. The representative of the company which owned the railway publicly predicted and threatened that Panama would secede if the Colombian Senate rejected the treaty.  In 1903, despite US threats, the Colombian senate refused to ratify the Hay-Herran Treaty.  The United States encouraged an uprising of historically rebellious Panamanians and then used US warships to impede any interference from Colombia.  A representative of the new Panamanian government then negotiated a treaty favorable to the US for the construction and operation of the Panama Canal. 
In 1928, US business interests were threatened in Colombia. The workers of the US corporation United Fruit banana plantations in Colombia went on strike in December 1928. The workers demanded "written contracts, eight-hour days, six-day weeks and the elimination of food coupons". 
An army regiment from Bogotá was brought in by United Fruit to crush the strike. The Colombia soldiers erected their machine guns on the roofs of the buildings at the corners of the main square, closed off the access streets  and after a five minute warning, they ordered "Fuego!",  opening fire into a dense crowd of plantation workers and their wives and children who had gathered, after Sunday Mass,  to wait for an anticipated address of the governor of the region.  Between forty-seven to 2,000 workers were killed in the Santa Marta Massacre. 
In 1948, Gaitán, as a presidential candidate, was assassinated in Bogotá.  Gaitan's assassination marked the beginning of La Violencia, a Colombian civil war which lasted until the mid-fifties and killed an estimated 200,000 Colombians.  Towards the end of the conflict, Liberal and Communist armed peasant groups who remained at large, together with displaced peasants who had either fled from the violence or lost their land, formed small independent enclaves in the south. According to author Stokes, citing Jenny Pearce, these enclaves had "no broader political project" other than agriculture and self-protection.  The Colombian government, pressured by Conservative Congressmen who defined these enclaves as "independent republics", saw this as a potential threat. In addition, the U.S. government saw these peasant enclaves as potentially dangerous to US business interests in Colombia.
In May 1964, as part of Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, a CIA backed program was initiated, called Plan LAZO. US trained Colombian military troops invaded these largest peasant enclaves, using bomber aircraft with Napalm, in an attempt to destroy this threat. Many of the armed inhabitants of the enclaves escaped, and two years later part of this group formed the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The FARC became the oldest and largest revolutionary guerilla movement in the Western Hemisphere, being the longest running guerilla movement in Latin American history.  The FARC also became the largest threat to the Colombia government  and American multinationals  today. Stokes and other critics consider that the US government focused on the destruction of the FARC and other left-wing guerrilla movements, ignoring and even supporting other violent and destabilizing elements in Colombian society.
As La Violencia was ending a "US Special Survey Team" composed of worldwide counterinsurgency experts arrived in October 1959 to investigate Colombia's internal security. Among other policy recommendations the US team advised that "in order to shield the interests of both Colombian and US authorities against 'interventionist' charges any special aid given for internal security was to be sterile and covert in nature."  This recommendation is a form of plausible deniability, which is common in secret US government documents which are later declassified. 
In February 1962, three years after the 1959 "US Special Survey Team", a Fort Bragg top-level U.S. Special Warfare team headed by Special Warfare Center commander General William P. Yarborough, visited Colombia for a second survey.  In a secret supplement to his report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Yarborough encouraged a stay-behind irregular force and its immediate deployment to eliminate communists representing a future threat:
"A concerted country team effort should be made now to select civilian and military personnel for clandestine training in resistance operations in case they are needed later. This should be done with a view toward development of a civil and military structure for exploitation in the event the Colombian internal security system deteriorates further. This structure should be used to pressure toward reforms known to be needed, perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and as necessary execute paramilitary, sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents. It should be backed by the United States." 
Interrogation procedures and techniques, including regular questioning of rural villagers "who are believed to be knowledgeable of guerrilla activities" were advised. "Exhaustive interrogation of the bandits, to include sodium pentathol and polygraph, should be used to elicit every shred of information. Both the Army and the Police need trained interrogators."  Pentathol, or truth serum, was originally used by doctors for relaxation, but in the 1970s it was reported used by some Latin American militaries to induce "paralysis, agony, and terror."  The use of truth serum would later be encouraged in SOA manuals. 
"In general, the Yarborough team recommended that the US provide guidance and assistance in all aspects of counter-insurgency...Civilian and military personnel, clandestinely selected and trained in resistance operations, would be required in order to develop an underground civil and military structure. This organization was to undertake 'clandestine execution of plans developed by the United States Government toward defined objectives in the political, economic, and military fields'...it would…undertake...'paramilitary, sabotage, and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents'." 
Ultimately Yarborough's recommendations formed the core of a US-aided reorganization of Colombian military troops.  This new counter-insurgency policy debuted with Plan LAZO in 1964.  Following Yarborough's recommendations, the Colombian military selected and trained civilians to work alongside the military in its counter-insurgency campaign and paramilitary "civil defense" groups which worked alongside the military.  The United States supplied and trained civilian intelligence networks which were closely linked to the military, the system was established to gather "intelligence and providing early warning against bandit or guerrilla attacks".  In 1965 Colombian President Guillermo Leon Valencia Munoz issued Decree 3398.  Because of the decree, eleven separate civilian intelligence networks had been established with agricultural co-operatives.  In 1968, Decree 3398 became Colombia law with the enactment of Law 48 of 1968.
Doug Stokes argues that it was not until the early part of the 1980s that the Colombian government attempted to move away from the policy of counterinsurgency warfare represented by Plan LAZO and Yarborough's 1962 recommendations. 
The 1970 US army manual entitled Stability Operations was translated into Spanish and used to train thousands of Latin American military officers in counter intelligence, including Colombian officers.  Stokes argues that "the manual extends its definition of subversion beyond armed insurgents and explicitly links civil society organizations to the problem of insurgency."  Targets for Counter intelligence operations included, "ordinary citizens who are typical members of organizations or associations which play an important role in the local society."  The manual explains that insurgents usually work with union leaders and union members, and those organizations which demand "immediate social, political or economic reform may be an indication that the insurgents have gained a significant degree of control."  The manual explains that the indicators of communist/insurgent infiltration include:
- Refusal of peasants to pay rent, taxes, or loan payments. Increase in the number of entertainers with a political message. Discrediting the judicial system and police organizations. Characterization of the armed forces as the enemy of the people. Appearance of questionable doctrine in the educational system. Appearance of many new members in established organizations like labor organizations. Increased unrest among laborers. Increased student activity against the government and its police, or against minority groups, foreigners and the like. An increased number of articles or advertisements in newspapers criticizing the government. Strikes or work stoppages called to protest government actions. Increase of petitions demanding government redress of grievances. Proliferation of slogans pinpointing specific grievances. Initiation of letter-writing campaigns to newspapers and government officials deploring undesirable conditions and blaming individuals in power. 
A populist Colombian Congressman, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, began to develop a nationwide reputation, especially among the poor, after visiting the site of the United Fruit massacre the same week. Gaitán returned to Bogotá and argued passionately in Congress in favor of the workers, arguing that the army action's did not protect Colombia's interests but instead those of the US. 
Plan Colombia, the $5,000,000,000 drug war boondoggle cooked up in 1999 by Bill Clinton and then-Colombian president Andres Pastrana and subsequently transmographied into a War on Terror adjunct by George Bush and Alvaro Uribe brought U.S. troops, fleets of helicopter gun ships, spray planes spewing poisons, and a vast array of human rights abuses to that troubled Latin American country. It also made Colombia the third largest recipient of Washington's foreign aid and the number one repository of U.S. military aid in the western hemisphere.
But Plan Colombia failed to stem the flood of cocaine pouring across U.S. borders nor has it even eradicated much Colombian coca acreage -- 144,000 hectares continue to thrive under coca cultivation in Colombia concedes the U.S. State Department's Office of International Narcotics Enforcement in its 2006 annual report, and while spraying massive doses of glysophate did force some farmers out of business, production simply moved south, spreading throughout the Andean region.
Indeed, the price of cocaine on U.S. streets dipped slightly last year and supply and quality remained constant, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. For the first time in five years, the DEA registered an increase in first time users. 90% of the cocaine confiscated in the U.S. last year continues to be Colombian-based.
Despite the abysmal results, the U.S. Congress has again budgeted $367,000,000 for Plan Colombia in 2008 although some congressional reps appear to be tiring of fighting this losing war and are beginning to call for an exit strategy. With the Democrats in titular control of both houses, doubts about Plan Colombia forced consideration of a bi-lateral free trade agreement to be shelved this spring. President Uribe, in Washington to lobby for the pact, complained to the press that he was being treated as "a pariah."
Despite Plan Colombia's fading allure, the Bush administration is about to debut a sequel: Plan Mexico, an interdiction strategy to confront the increasing "Colombian-ization" of Mexico by bi-national (Colombian and Mexican) drug cartels who have managed to spread their brand of mayhem into every nook and cranny of this distant neighbor nation.
The finishing touches for a Plan Colombia-like joint venture were worked out at the early June G-8 summit in Germany during a meeting between Bush and Mexico's freshman president Felipe Calderon, a special guest at the conclave. According to insiders in both camps as reported in the U.S. and Mexican media, Calderon will make a formal application for increased anti-drug assistance from Washington come August. Mexico currently receives $40,000,000 in drug moneys from the White House.
If you liked Plan Colombia, you are going to love Plan Mexico.
Like Plan Colombia, Mexico will be gifted with tons of military equipment, whiz-bang technology, and billion buck grants to battle the cartels, although U.S. troops will be held out of the package (for now) because of Mexico's long-standing resistance to such deployment. The U.S. military has invaded Mexico eight times since both countries won their independence from Europe 200 years ago.
Fumigation of Mexican drug crops will also meet with hard-core resistance on this side of the border. Whereas U.S. spray crews have been dousing southern Colombia for seven years with the virulent defoliant glysophate, poisoning food crops, streams, farm animals, and farming populations, Mexico was painted with Paraquat in 1969 when Richard Nixon launched his bonehead "Operation Intercept" to destroy Mexican marijuana plantations without first asking the Mexican government's permission. One dazzling result of Operation Intercept was to incite domestic marijuana cultivation in the U.S. -- the U.S. now produces more marijuana than Mexico.
Mexico halted its U.S.-financed spray program several years ago when it could no longer obtain replacement parts for the planes, with no noticeable increase in drug cropping. Mexico is not suited to coca cultivation and is used by the cartels principally as a "trampoline" to move Colombian cocaine across the U.S. border. Opium poppy cropping, as in Colombia, accounts for single digit percentages of U.S. heroin imports, 90% of which have their origin in Washington's War on Terror partner Afghanistan.
Plans for Plan Mexico were inadvertently leaked at a June 8th -- 9th bi-lateral meeting of Mexican and U.S. lawmakers in Austin Texas by Democratic congressperson Silvestre Reyes, now chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee and a former U.S. Border Patrol honcho who pioneered construction of the first wall between Mexico and the United States back in the mid-90s. As top dog on the House Intelligence committee, Reyes is a heavy hitter in the Bush terror war and Plan Mexico is seen as much of a War on Terror tool as it is a drug interdiction strategy.
Officials in both Washington and Mexico City have remained tightlipped about the joint endeavor, implying that Reyes' revelations may have tipped off the cartels.
Since taking office December 1st, Calderon, whose election was as shady as George Bush's Florida 2000 sham victory, has been prepping Mexico for the nation's new enhanced role in Washington's War on Terror. Within the first week of his chaotic swearing-in, Calderon sent 30,000 Mexican troops into nine drug-saturated states in a virtual declaration of martial law to combat the five Mexican-Colombian cartels that dominate the drug trade here. Civil rights were suspended and abuses abounded but precious little cocaine was confiscated.
The new president followed up the military offensive by moving a draconian anti- terrorism measure in the Mexican congress. The so-called "International Terrorism Law" which actually criminalizes domestic dissent, passed both houses with only token opposition from the left-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and mandates 40 year prison sentences for "terrorist" activities defined as "the use of violence against persons, things, or public services that spread alarm or fear in the population or any part thereof in order to threaten national security or pressure authorities to take certain determinations."
This Mexican "U.S. Patriot Act" in effect transforms social change movements as diverse as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, Greenpeace, and Oaxaca's Popular Peoples' Assembly (APPO) into terrorist organizations. The first application of the new law against Ignacio Del Valle, a leader of the machete-wielding farmers of San Salvador Atenco, resulted in a 67-year prison sentence. Del Valle's "terrorist" crime? Locking the door during a meeting of Mexico state school officials and local farmers so the officials could not abandon the room.
But Calderon was not done yet with converting his regime into a doppelganger of the Bush administration's perversion of justice. This April, the President, who, much like George Bush, is considered a usurper by over 50% of the Mexican electorate, foisted a constitutional amendment on his congress that would grant him carte blanche powers to tap phones and break into private homes without first obtaining a search warrant from a court. The amendment, which has not yet passed the legislature, bears a startling resemblance to George Bush's unconstitutional eavesdropping and surveillance of millions of U.S. citizens but with one notable caveat -- Calderon, at least, went to his congress to modify the Constitution to allow such intrusions. Bush simply imposed his illegal operation in violation of his country's Magna Carta.
One purported benefit of Plan Mexico will be technology transfer, affirm boosters like Mexican attorney general Eduardo Medina Mora. Bankrolled by a $3,000,000 U.S. State Department grant, Mexico is upgrading its eavesdropping capabilities even without congressional approval of the constitutional amendment. The installation of a super-duper "communication interruption" system will allow the government to tap into landline telephones, cell phone traffic, and electronic mail. The new system is designed by Verint Technologies ("actionable intelligence for a safer world") and features automatic voice identification. Verint, a Nee York-based start-up that provides spy technology to everyone from Domino's Pizza to the National Security Agency, has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from Bush's terror war.
The Verint system will intercept tens of thousands of calls from the U.S. to Mexico and visa versa each day. Although these conversations will be officially recorded by Mexican authorities, the chatter will be admissible evidence in U.S. courts. Mexico's monopoly telephone company, Telmex, owned by Carlos Slim, the third richest man on the planet, tells reporters that it will comply with the government's eavesdropping plans.
Plan Colombia has sunk Colombia in a morass of corruption and human rights abuses. The drug war offensive was endorsed from its inception by the paramilitary "Autodefensa Unida de Colombia" or AUC, which, along with the long-lived leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), are prominent players on the Bush White House's terrorist list. The AUC, which is held responsible for 9000 extrajudicial killings since Plan Colombia kicked in (one leader, Salvatore Mancuso, boasts of 300 personal kills) shared the U.S. largesse in building up its arsenal and financed itself by drug running and extorting transnationals like Hyundai and Chiquita Banana Brands.
Now AUC leaders, whose 31,000 strong private army was granted amnesty in 2004, are spilling the beans to the Colombian Supreme Court about the extent of the paramilitaries' backing from the Uribe government and the military -- 12 generals and 14 legislators in the national congress are under indictment in the escalating scandal that has severely eroded Uribe's presidency.
But Mexico's armed forces will not have to take lessons from their Colombian counterparts when it comes to violating human rights. In the latest of several such homicidal "incidents", Mexican troops opened fire on a family of five at a Sinaloa checkpoint June 2nd, killing three children. Rather than extending sympathy to the bereaved family, Mexico's Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna insisted that such tragedies are "the price we have to pay for our vigilance."
Details for the implementation of Plan Mexico were hammered out at a hush-hush June 9th closed door meeting in Morelos state just south of the capital that involved beleaguered U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, White House drug czar John Waters, and the attorney generals of Mexico and Colombia -- Eduardo Medina Mora and Mario Iguaran. Iguaran recently replaced Luis Camilo Osorio as his nation's chief prosecutor -- Osorio who is accused of whitewashing AUC's murderous activities is now his country's ambassador to Mexico.
As George Bush's only other Latin American ally besides Alvaro Uribe, Felipe Calderon borrowed a page from the faltering Colombian president's playbook by extraditing a dozen long-sought (but largely out of the loop) Mexican capos to the U.S. soon after taking office, an early signal that Mexican was ready to sell its sovereignty to Washington.
Both U.S. and Mexican authorities strongly deny that U.S. troops will be on the ground in Mexico anytime soon, a clear violation of Mexico's national sovereignty. Under Plan Colombia, U.S. forces grew to 800 "trainers", including 70 Green Beret Special Forces, and 600 private "contractors" (mercenaries.) Actually, Mexican troops receive extensive U.S. military training at Fort Bragg North Carolina's Center for Special Forces and Fort Benning, Georgia, the site of the infamous School of the Americas. Some of the trainees have since defected to the narco gangs, banding together in a truly terrorist brigade known as the "Zetas" who function as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel.
With Plan Colombia as a model, Plan Mexico would also open the door to the use of private military contractors like Blackwater, on the ground here.
Mexican police agencies, long gangrenous with corruption, are already being trained in country by the U.S. FBI. Washington is pushing for the development of a hemispheric police force that will be able to cross borders. The International Law Enforcement Academy in El Salvador is a kind of School of the Americas for cops, which reportedly employs former Salvadoran death squad members as trainers.
Since the U.S. and Mexico achieved nationhood two centuries ago, Washington has had designs on annexing its nearest neighbor to the south. The United States invasion of 1846-48, the so-called Mexican War, deposed Mexico of all of its northern territories that today comprise 13 U.S. western states. Since then, Washington has invaded and annexed Mexico from afar. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement in effect annexed Mexico's economy. Beginning with World War II and extending through the Cold War, the War on Drugs, and now the War on Terror, the U.S. has sought to annex Mexico's security apparatus. Plan Mexico is, in fact, a plan to lock in the annexation of Mexico.
A colonel who fought drug lord Pablo Emilio Escobar and the Medellin cartel in Colombia said the current war against cocaine is nothing like it was in the 1970s and ’80s.
In an exclusive interview at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation Thursday at Fort Benning, Col. William A. Galindo said through interpreter Ana Brewington that the impact of cocaine in Colombia and the United States has declined due to the presence of the police force and law enforcement.
Galindo, an instructor at the institute for the last 18 months, has served in the Colombian Army since age 15 and has more than 30 years of service. The war against cocaine has taken him to jungles, remote villages and urban areas to combat the manufacturing and trafficking of the drug.
“Yes, I saw Pablo and we fought him,” Galindo said. “It was in 1985-1986. We saw the problems from the bombs they placed and they were well armed and had money.”
Escobar’s drug empire was dealt a setback in December 1993 when he and his bodyguard were shot and killed while running across the rooftops of houses in Medellin.
The world faced a phenomenon in the 1970s and ’80s with the planting and harvesting of the coca plant to make cocaine. At the same time, networks started to open to deliver the product around the world.
“In those years, the ideal market was the United States,” Galindo, 46, said of drug traffickers. “The reason was when the product arrived in the United States, they were very well paid.”
The route of the drug starts in Central America, goes to Mexico and finally makes its way to the United States. The route includes travel by boats, aircraft and vehicles over the road.
“They look for everything to make the product get to the final destination,” Galindo said.
When those borders between Central America, South America and North America were compromised, Galindo said the governments of those countries were committed in trying to fight what was called a “cancer.”
“We started to fight those cartels,” he said. The fight against cocaine has endured with support dating back to President Jimmy Carter’s administration in the late 1970s.
“The military and law enforcement forces in Colombia had a war against these cartels,” Galindo said. “The drug traffickers that were left started to decline at the end of the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s.”
Ten years after Escobar’s death, the capture of Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela by Colombian authorities in March 2003 was a blow to the Cali cartel, which once supplied 70 percent of cocaine in the United States and 90 percent in the European market.
With many avenues closed to the drug traffickers, Galindo said alliances were later formed among FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and ELN, the National Liberation Army.
“When they saw that they were being exterminated, they united with guerrilla groups FARC and ELN and they started to have control,” the colonel said. “The money power was so big in the fight against the government, plus the great income to their activities, that provoked a very big change. The change in the war became something more violent.”
The groups are terrorists and they are financing drug trafficking, he said. Alliances between the Zetas cartel in Mexico and Colombia started in order to produce cocaine.
“This is what we are having right now,” he said.
To eradicate cocaine use, Galindo said drastic policies are needed as long as there are producers in the fields and there is a demand for the product. He said $50 worth of coca plants is worth 100,000 pesos to a farmer.
“When you convert that $50 into a kilo of cocaine, the kilo costs $1,000,” he said. “When that kilo arrives in the United States, it is $20,000.”
Through courses taught at Fort Benning, the institute has played a major role in combating the manufacturing and trafficking of cocaine. About 60 percent of the students in the institute are from Colombia. Lee Rials, a spokesman for the institute, said the post has a mock cocaine lab in Alabama to help train students on what to look for in the jungles of Colombia and other Latin American countries.
“Because of the experience we bring here and instructions given, we know exactly what we need to do to fight this problem in the fields and rivers,” Galindo said. “We get the training and capabilities to be able to confront this.”
Among the 18 courses offered at the institute, some include instructions on human rights, counter drug course and operation information. The institute trains soldiers, law enforcement officers and civilians from 22 Latin American countries and the United States.
“In Colombia, we did not realize the importance WHINSEC has not only for the country, but the whole hemisphere,” said Galindo, who returns home in January.
Read more: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2011/10/29/1797244/colombian-army-colonel-says-war.html#ixzz1cEbVmYeu
Read more: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2011/10/29/1797244/colombian-army-colonel-says-war.html#ixzz1cEbDQo8x
A criminal gang capable of smuggling 10 tonnes of cocaine a month for Mexico's bloody Sinaloa cartel has been dismantled following the arrest of 36 suspects.
The arrests have been hailed as a success of cooperation between Colombia and the United States, which has contributed with billions of dollars in aid to help the Andean country fight drug smugglers with links to Marxist guerrillas.
"I want to sincerely congratulate ... the public prosecutor's offices (of Colombia and United States), the police, the army (and) the air force, because this shows that our fight against drug trafficking is delivering accurate blows," President Juan Manuel Santos told reporters.
He said 36 people had been arrested in the operation, which followed on from the detention of 19 suspects last month that belonged to a gang that built submarines to smuggle cocaine out of Colombia, the world's top producer of the narcotic. He did not disclose where the arrests took place.
Some 21 aircraft were confiscated in the latest operation, which crushed a smuggling ring that supplied cocaine to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, the most powerful organized crime gang in the Americas.
"This operation between the United States and Colombia has a direct impact that should relieve violence and drug trafficking in Central America and Mexico," said General Oscar Naranjo, the head of the Colombian police.
The security forces seized 5 tonnes of cocaine, more than $1.5 million in cash, and arrested some "big shots" who worked for the ringleader, Daniel "Mad" Barrera, who remains at large.
"The United States and Colombia are fighting against a new threat, the narco-trafficking organizations, and we'll dismantle them," Wifredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, told reporters in Bogota.
Those organizations have tried to fill the void left by the fall in recent years of the Norte Valle Cartel and the dissolution of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, a paramilitary group, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
They are becoming a leading supplier of cocaine to Mexican cartels, in particular the violent Sinaloa group, which experts say moves up to two-thirds of drugs into the United States.
GUERRILLA ATTACKSThe Andean country has attracted billions of dollars in foreign direct investment over the last decade, boosting oil and coal output after U.S. military aid helped it deal crippling blows to leftist guerrillas and cocaine cartels.
Santos' economic policies have won Colombia investment grade status from the three leading rating agencies, but the achievements have been tarnished by a recent increase in violence by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including attacks on foreign oil companies.
The rebels remain strong in some remote areas of the nation of 46 million people, aided in part by involvement in the cocaine trade and alliances with other armed groups.
Santos vowed in early August to improve intelligence gathering, and said troops should break into smaller units for greater versatility in fighting the FARC.
He appointed a new defense minister earlier this week, among growing criticism that the armed forces are failing to thwart attacks from guerrillas.
MexicoThe Mexican government has claimed that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on drug trafficking prevention, which is left to U.S. functionaries.
Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of Colombia's Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market in the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 billion to $48.4 billion annually.Mexican drug traffickers increasingly smuggle money back into Mexico inside cars and trucks returning to Mexico, likely due to the effectiveness of U.S. efforts at monitoring electronic money transfers.
Given its geographic location, Mexico has long been used as a staging and transshipment point for narcotics, illegal immigrants and contraband destined for U.S. markets from Mexico, South America and elsewhere. During the 1980s and early 1990s, Colombia’s Pablo Escobar was the main exporter of cocaine and dealt with organized criminal networks all over the world. When enforcement efforts intensified in South Florida and the Caribbean, the Colombian organizations formed partnerships with the Mexico-based traffickers to transport cocaine through Mexico into the United States.
This was easily accomplished because Mexico had long been a major source of heroin and cannabis, and drug traffickers from Mexico had already established an infrastructure that stood ready to serve the Colombia-based traffickers. By the mid-1980s, the organizations from Mexico were well established and reliable transporters of Colombian cocaine. At first, the Mexican gangs were paid in cash for their transportation services, but in the late 1980s, the Mexican transport organizations and the Colombian drug traffickers settled on a payment-in-product arrangement. Transporters from Mexico usually were given 35% to 50% of each cocaine shipment. This arrangement meant that organizations from Mexico became involved in the distribution, as well as the transportation of cocaine, and became formidable traffickers in their own right. Currently, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Gulf cartel have taken over trafficking cocaine from Colombia to the worldwide markets.
Over time, the balance of power between the various Mexican cartels shifts as new ones emerge and older ones weaken and collapse. A disruption in the system, such as the arrests or deaths of cartel leaders, generates bloodshed as rivals move in to exploit the power vacuum. Leadership vacuums sometimes are created by law enforcement successes against a particular cartel, thus cartels often will attempt to use law enforcement against one another, either by bribing Mexican officials to take action against a rival or by leaking intelligence about a rival's operations to the Mexican government or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While many factors have contributed to the escalating violence, security analysts in Mexico City trace the origins of the rising scourge to the unraveling of a longtime implicit arrangement between narcotics traffickers and governments controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which lost its grip on political power starting in the late 1980s.
The fighting between rival drug cartels began in earnest after the 1989 arrest of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo who ran the cocaine business in Mexico. There was a lull in the fighting during the late 1990s but the violence has steadily worsened since 2000.
Although violence between drug cartels had been occurring for three decades, the Mexican government held a generally passive stance regarding cartel violence through the 1980s and early 2000s. That changed on December 11, 2006, when the newly elected President Felipe Calderón sent 6,500 Mexican Army soldiers to the state of Michoacán to end drug violence there. This action is regarded as the first major retaliation made against the cartel violence, and is generally viewed as the starting point of the Mexican Drug War between the government and the drug cartels. As time passed, Calderón continued to escalate his anti-drug campaign, in which there are now about 45,000 troops involved along with state and federal police forces.
Violence increased from 2000 when President Vicente Fox sent troops to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas to fight the cartels. It is estimated that about 110 people died in Nuevo Laredo alone during the January–August 2005 period as a result of the fighting between the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. In 2005 there was a surge in violence as La Familia Michoacana drug cartel established itself inMichoacán.
In April 2008, General Sergio Aponte, the man in charge of the anti-drug campaign in the state of Baja California, made a number of allegations of corruption against the police forces in the region. Among his allegations, Aponte stated that he believed Baja California's anti-kidnapping squad was actually a kidnapping team working in conjunction with organized crime, and that bribed police units were being used as bodyguards for drug traffickers. These accusations of corruption suggested that the progress against drug cartels in Mexico has been hindered by bribery, intimidation, and corruption.
On April 26, 2008, a major battle took place between members of the Tijuana and Sinaloa cartels in the city of Tijuana, Baja California, that left 17 people dead. The battle also causes concern about the violence spilling into the United States, as Tijuana and a number of other border cities become hotspots for violence in the war. In September 2008, grenade attacks in Morelia by suspected cartel members killed eight civilians and injured more than 100.
In March 2009, President Calderón called in an additional 5,000 Mexican Army troops to Ciudad Juárez. The United States Department of Homeland Security has also said that it is considering using the National Guard to counter the threat of drug violence in Mexico from spilling over the border into the US. The governors of Arizona and Texas have asked the federal government to send additional National Guard troops to help those already there supporting local law enforcement efforts against drug trafficking.
According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Mexican cartels are the predominant smugglers and wholesale distributors of South American cocaine and Mexico-produced cannabis,methamphetamine and heroin. Mexico's cartels have existed for some time, but have become increasingly powerful in recent years with the demise of the Medellín and Cali cartels in Colombia. Closure of the cocaine trafficking route through Florida also pushed cocaine traffic to Mexico, increasing the role of Mexican cartels in cocaine trafficking. The Mexican cartels are expanding their control over the distribution of these drugs in areas controlled by Colombian and Dominican criminal groups, and now believed to include most of the U.S.A.
No longer just intermediaries for Colombian producers, Mexican cartels are now powerful organized-crime syndicates that dominate the drug trade in the Americas. According to the FBI, Mexican cartels focus only on wholesale distribution, leaving retail sales of illicit drugs to street gangs. The Mexican cartels reportedly work with multiple gangs and claim not to take sides in U.S. gang conflicts.
Mexican cartels control large swaths of Mexican territory and dozens of municipalities, and they exercise increasing influence in Mexican electoral politics. The cartels are waging violent turf battles over control of key smuggling corridors from Matamoros to San Diego. Mexican cartels employ hitmen and groups of enforcers, known as sicarios. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that the Mexican drug cartels operating today along the border are far more sophisticated and dangerous than any other organized criminal group in U.S. law enforcement history. The cartels use grenade launchers, automatic weapons, body armor, and sometimes Kevlar helmets. Some groups have also been known to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Casualty numbers have escalated significantly over time. According to a Stratfor report, the number of drug-related deaths in 2006 and 2007 (2,119 and 2,275) more than doubled to 5,207 in 2008. The number further increased substantially over the next two years, from 6,598 in 2009 to over 11,000 in 2010.
Mexico, a major drug producing and transit country, is the main foreign supplier of cannabis and a major supplier of methamphetamine to the United States. Almost half the cartels revenue come from cannabis. Although Mexico accounts for only a small share of worldwide heroin production, it supplies a large share of the heroin distributed in the United States. Drug cartels in Mexico control approximately 70% of the foreign narcotics that flow into the United States.
The US State Department estimates that 90% of cocaine entering the United States transits through Mexico, with Colombia being the main cocaine producer, followed by Bolivia and Peru.Reports indicate that Venezuela has clearly become a major transshipment point for illegal drugs leaving Colombia.
The birth of all Mexican drug cartels is traced to former Mexican Judicial Federal Police agent Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo ('The Godfather'), who in the 1980s controlled all illegal drug trade in Mexico and the corridors across the Mexico-USA border. He started off by smuggling marijuana and opium into the U.S.A., and was the first Mexican drug capo to link up with Colombia's cocaine cartels in the 1980s. Through his connections, Félix Gallardo became the point man for the Medellin cartel, which was run by Pablo Escobar. This was easily accomplished because Félix Gallardo had already established an infrastructure that stood ready to serve the Colombia-based traffickers.
There were no cartels at that time in Mexico. Félix Gallardo was the lord of Mexican drug lords. He oversaw all operations; there was just him, his cronies, and the politicians who sold him protection. Félix Gallardo kept a low profile and in 1987 he moved with his family to Guadalajara city. According to Peter Dale Scott, the Guadalajara Cartel, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nassar Haro, a CIA asset."
"The Godfather" then decided to divide up the trade he controlled as it would be more efficient and less likely to be brought down in one law enforcement swoop. In a way, he was privatizing the Mexican drug business while sending it back underground, to be run by bosses who were less well known or not yet known by the DEA. Félix Gallardo "The Godfather" convened the nation's top drug narcos at a house in the resort of Acapulco where he designated the plazas or territories. The Tijuana route would go to the Arellano Felix brothers. The Ciudad Juárez route would go to the Carrillo Fuentes family. Miguel Caro Quintero would run the Sonora corridor. The control of the Matamoros, Tamaulipas corridor - then becoming the Gulf Cartel- would be left undisturbed to Juan García Abrego. Meanwhile, Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Ismael Zambada García would take over Pacific coast operations, becoming the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán and Zambada brought veteran Héctor Luis Palma Salazar back into the fold. Félix Gallardo still planned to oversee national operations, as he maintained important connections, but he would no longer control all details of the business.
Félix Gallardo was arrested on 8 April 1989. Other arrests, greed, and desire for more power stimulated conflicts between the newly formed and now independent cartels.
Los ZetasLos Zetas (Zetas, Z's or La Última Letra) is the second most powerful drug cartel in Mexico and considered by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as the most violent drug cartel and paramilitary enforcement group in Mexico. Los Zetas is a criminal organization dedicated mostly to international illegal drug trade, assassinations, extortion, kidnapping and other organized crime activities. This drug cartel, now led by Heriberto Lazcano, was founded by a group of over 30 former Mexican Army Special Forces deserters, and includes corrupt former federal, state, and local police officers, as well as ex-Kaibiles from Guatemala.
Los Zetas started as the military wing and private mercenary army of the Gulf Cartel, but after the arrest of the Gulf Cartel's leader, Osiel Cárdenas Guillen, the two entities became a combined trafficking force, with the Zetas taking a more active leadership role in drug trafficking. In 2010, however, Los Zetas began to operate independently from their erstwhile bosses in the Gulf Cartel structure. The rupture of Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel has led to a bloody turf war, predominantly in the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.
They have also carried out multiple massacres and terrorist attacks on civilians, such as the 2011 Monterrey casino attack, where 52 people were killed,the 2010 Tamaulipas massacre, where 72 migrants were found dead, the 2011 Tamaulipas massacre, where 193 people were killed, the massacre of 27 farmers in Guatemala, and the 2008 Morelia grenade attacks, where 8 were killed and over 100 were injured. In addition, sources reveal that Los Zetas may also be responsible for the death of 249 people at the 2011 Durango massacres and for the 2010 Puebla oil pipeline explosion, which killed 28 people, injured 52, and damaged over 115 homes.
The group's name Los Zetas is given after its first leader, Lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decena, whose Federal Judicial Police radio code was "Z1", a code given to high-ranking officers. The radio code for Commanding Federal Judicial Police Officers in México was "Y" and are nicknamed Yankees, for Federal Judicial Police in charge of a city the radio code was "Z," and thus they were nicknamed as the letter in Spanish, "Zetas."
Jesús Enrique Rejón Aguilar, aka El Mamito, was captured in Mexico. Rejón Aguilar was also known as Zeta 7. He helped the then Gulf Drug Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas recruit the original Mexican special forces soldiers trained at Fort Benning, Georgia to become the most dangerous criminal organization in Mexico.
In an edited interview with Mexican Federal Police (in Spanish and now posted at YouTube), Rejón Aguilar reveals some interesting information about the origins of Los Zetas, where they get their weapons, and where they buy their drug shipments.
In the interview Rejón Aguilar reveals that Los Zetas do not trust the Colombians, so they purchase the drug shipments (mostly cocaine) from the Guatemalans.
Los Zetas have operatives in the U.S. who have purchased (at least in the past) firearms and other weapons from different suppliers including from the ‘U.S. Government itself.’
Last March, the Mexican military raided a Zeta camp at Falcon Lake, where they seized several anti-aircraft shoulder missiles and other weapons.
The U.S. Justice Department is warning local police in Arizona and California a group of rogue Mexican military commandos may be headed this way. They're thought to be setting up new drug smuggling routes and it could bring new violence to the border area.
They are elite "special forces" of the Mexican military trained in the U.S. at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia and sent to "wipe out" one of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels.
But these soldiers deserted and became the muscle for the very cartel they were supposed to destroy.
According to this Department of Justice "Intelligence Bulletin" obtained by the 5i-Team, these rogue commandos now known as "Los Zetas" may be heading our way.
The normally busy streets and busy stores in Nogales Sonora have been a little less bustling lately. Caesar Fierro says, "It's been slow this year." Caesar Fierro says his empty store is the result of rumors about a drug war. Tourists are scared.
Out on the streets, other vendors play down the speculation the Mexican Commandos are already here. Tony Marques says, "The Zetas.. I don't think they'll operate here you know." Marques says, "Maybe in the big cities like Juarez , Tijuana , now you're talking seriously like that."
The Intelligence Bulletin we obtained says the Zetas are responsible for hundreds of violent drug-related murders. It says they've executed journalists, murdered people in Dallas, McAllen and Laredo, Texas. They even detained two DEA agents and recently they've shot at Border Patrol agents. At the Arizona border with Mexico agents are already seeing a major increase in violence.
Jose Garza says, "Last year we had documented only nine shootings against our agents. This year we're up to about 18 shootings already."
Agent Jose Garza says his agents have seen no direct evidence the Zetas are responsible for the shootings here, but as far back as three-years ago, the Zeta-like tactics started to appear.
In March of 2002, U.S. Customs agents were involved in a shootout south of Phoenix with an enemy they had not seen before. Equipped with automatic weapons, body armor, and state-of-the-art communications, in a word - it looked "military."
Kyle Barnette says, "I'd be lying if I didn't say it concerns us."
Now, as a drug war between the Gulf Cartel to the east and the Tijuana Cartel to the west starts to heat up, the Justice Department bulletin warns: "The violence will spill over the Mexican border into the United States and law enforcement agencies in Texas, Arizona and Southern California can expect to encounter Los Zetas in the coming months."
A regional head was arrested in connection with the murder of Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, which took place last month.
As the New York Times is reporting, navy spokesman José Luis Vergara said the suspect, Sergio Antonio Mora, controlled the Zeta organization in the state of San Luis Potosí, where the attack took place.
Unfortunately, the lethal reputation of "Los Zetas" doesn't stop with Zapata's death, as members have previously been blamed for some of the most gruesome atrocities in Mexico's drug war, including the brutal slaying of 72 migrants last August.
Samuel Flores Borrego, also know as "el Metro 3," was shot dead near Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, in what appeared to be an attack by members of his own cartel, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said in a statement. He was found Friday inside a vehicle along with the body of a police officer. Flores, 39, is believed to be responsible for the January 2010 killing of a Zetas member that led to a rupture between the former allies, U.S. anti-drug officials have said. The Zetas started as a gang of hit men for the Gulf Cartel, but after the split formed their own cartel, and fighting between the groups over territory and drug turf has caused violence to soar in parts of Mexico.
El Coss aka Eduardo Costilla has replaced "metro 3" with "X20".
TerrorismThe 2008 Morelia grenade attacks took place on 15 September 2008 on the occasion of theMexican Independence Day anniversary when thousands of people were gathered in the Plaza Melchor Ocampo, the main square of the Mexican city of Morelia, Michoacán. Shortly after theGrito in that city, led by Governor Leonel Godoy, two grenades were thrown into the crowds, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100.
The first blast was reported shortly after 23:00, on the Plaza itself, as the governor was intoning the traditional vivas to the heroes of the nation; the second took place some minutes later, in a sidestreet located four blocks away.
Two further explosions were reported in the immediate aftermath: one at 01:00, leaving the city along the highway to Salamanca, Guanajuato; and a fourth at 01:15, in the Santa María district in the vicinity of Morelia's bandera monumental.
The police have blamed drug cartels for the grenade attacks, specifically the La Familia Michoacana gang. La Familia has denied it and instead blamed Los Zetas. A week after the attacks, police arrested three men of the Los Zetas gang accused of throwing the grenades.
Morelia is the home town of President Felipe Calderón of the PAN, although the state of Michocán has traditionally been controlled by the opposition PRI and PRD. Michoacán has, since Calderón took office, been one of the federal government's focal points in its anti-drug efforts and initial suspicions indicated that the atrocity was probably the work of the drugs cartels, either part of a battle for territory or as a warning to the government. Condemnation of the incident across the country was unanimous, as such tactics of the drug lords in attacking random citizen congregations was unprecedented in Mexican history.
The Tamaulipas or San Fernando massacre was the mass murder of 72 illegal immigrants attempting to cross from Mexico into the United States by the Mexican Los Zetas gang on August 24, 2010. This genocide was reported as "the biggest single discovery of its kind" in the Mexican Drug War, and "the worst known atrocity committed by Mexico's drug trafficking organization to date".
While the number of illegal immigrants into US has shrunk in the past years, estimates in September 2009 still placed numbers close to 300,000 a year. A significant proportion of those were abused on their way, tens of thousands were kidnapped for ransom, over half of the women suffered sexual abuse, and hundreds were killed. Local officials, including police, were often complicit.
The authorities were alerted to the massacre when a wounded survivor approached a military checkpoint. The survivor claimed that he was among a group of migrants who were kidnapped by persons who identified themselves as the Los Zetas cartel, who subsequently started killing them for refusing to do work for them. Another source suggests that the migrants were killed when they refused to pay ransom.
When Mexican marines approached the scene in question, situated in the state of Tamaulipas, a gunfight ensued in which one marine and three gunmen were killed before the defenders scattered.Following this incident near San Fernando, (100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas) the gunmen were confirmed as belonging to the Los Zetas drug traffickers, and 72 bodies were recovered from the remote ranch. One suspect was apprehended, but others managed to escape. The 58 men and 14 women killed were believed to be undocumented migrants from South and Central America, including Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, who were trying to cross the border to the United States. There were only two survivors.
Twenty-one rifles, 101 ammunition clips, four bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms and four vehicles were seized by officials. The bodies were found in a room, blindfolded, some of them piled up on top of each other.
Two police officials (Roberto Suárez, a state detective, and Juan Carlos Suárez Sánchez, a local police chief) were murdered shortly after being assigned to investigate the case. A few days later, Mexican officials arrested seven individuals suspected of involvement in the massacre.
The 2011 Durango massacres were a series of mass murders that occurred in 2011. At least 249 bodies have been found in mass graves around the city of Durango . These mass graves are the first of their kind in the state of Durango and third of their kind in Mexico. These mass graves had more bodies than the previous 2010 Tamaulipas massacre of 72 illegal immigrants by the Mexican gang Los Zetas, and the 2011 Tamaulipas massacre of 189 bus passengers. Since April 2011, there have been 7 mass graves found around Durango. One of these mass graves was found in a vacant auto repair lot in Durango with 89 bodies. The Mexican media says the government has found 226 bodies so far while other media sources say there have been 302 bodies unearthed from the mass graves.
A man's headless body was left hanging off a bridge in Huixquilucan, one of the wealthiest cities in the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, police said. The body was strung up Monday by the legs and the head was left inside a trash bag placed on the bridge, Huixquilucan police chief Gerardo Oyervides told Efe. "A sign with a message supposedly signed by the La Mano con Ojos criminal organization was found" on the bridge, the police chief said. A security guard at a subdivision near the Paseo Interlomas bridge, located across from the highly respected Hospital Angeles, spotted the body and called police. Police removed the body and the investigation is being handled by "the coroner's office and the corresponding authorities," Oyervides said. Municipal police will step up patrols in the area, coordinating their actions with state police and the army, the police chief said. The killing comes days after the arrest of La Mano con Ojos leader Oscar Osvaldo Garcia Montoya, who confessed to participating in 300 murders and ordering 600 other hits. La Mano con Ojos controls drug dealing in Huixquilucan, located in the Mexico City metropolitan area, officials said. The gang, known for beheading its enemies, has been fighting for control of the drug trade in the cities of Naucalpan, Atizapan, Tultitlan, Cuautitlan Izcalli and a section of the capital. A total of 18 men and two women have been killed by the gang in Mexico state since November 2010, officials said.
The 2011 Monterrey casino attack was a narcoterrorist attack that took place in city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, in the country of Mexico, on August 25, 2011. Government sources revealed that 52 people were killed, but local reviews mention that 61 bodies were eventually found after a few days. In addition, this terrorist attack left over a dozen injured, and over 35 trapped for several hours before the Mexican forces arrived at the place a few minutes after the incident. Media reports said the majority of those killed were women. Although the government crackdown of the drug cartels dates back to 2006, Monterrey became an increasingly violent city in 2010, due to the rupture of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas.
This attack was planned and carried out by the most violent drug cartel in Mexico, Los Zetas. Surveillance videos show how four vehicles with several well-armed gunmen arrived at the entrance of Casino Royale. After the gunmen descended from their vehicles, they quietly stormed the casino's main entrance, opened fire at a few gamblers and guests, and then doused the casino entrances with gasoline and started a fire that trapped the people inside. This attack was classified as the most violent and bloodiest in the history of Monterrey and of the whole state of Nuevo Leon.
The incident occurred at Casino Royale, and is one of the deadliest attacks against an entertainment center in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in 2006.
The attack happened around 15:30 hours, when at least 12 gunmen, witnesses said, sprayed gas, fired shots and threw at least one grenade into the compound, which is located at the intersection of Jesus Maria Fernandez streets and S. Jeronimo, some of them getting out the door, some people were trampled in the stampede, while emergency exits remained locked.
Before this tragedy, a betting center, owned by Grupo Royale, had been attacked twice this year by organized crime, but with no casualties.
Oliva Castillo alias "La Rana," was captured. He is presumably the third-in-command in Los Zetas organization, just behind Heriberto Lazcano alias "el Lazca," and Miguel Treviño Morales, alias "Z-40."
The decapitated body of a woman identified as La Nena de Laredo was left on a monument in Nuevo Laredo with a threatening message directed towards Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and other unnamed social media sites used to anonymously report crime.
Nuevo Laredo en Vivo in an online citizen's forum that posts information on incidents, confrontations and locations of suspicious activity, and provides access to military and federal police anonymous tip websites.
The message, signed by Los Zetas, read:
OK Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social media sites. I am Nena de Laredo and I'm here because of my (online) reports and yours.....For those who don't believe this happened to me because of my actions, for trusting in the Army and Marines...
Thank you for your attention,
La Nena de Laredo
Less than two weeks before the tortured bodies of a man and a woman were discovered hanging from a Nuevo Laredo pedestrian bridge. Messages left by the killers accused the victims of being "snitches" who used online forums to report cartel related crime.
video shows a pile of dismembered bodies, victims of the gulf cartel. These bodies were found in Plaza Morelos, a municipality of Montemorelos, Nuevo León. Among the mutilated victims is a woman. All have signs of torture, some tied with ropes and belts, others with heavy duty chains. The message contains references that suggest these people were Zetas.
the "El Salvador Option". They are trained by the US to hunt and kill splinter cells of bigger Cartels. There is a controlled power shift going on, The "plan" is to use these "Death squads" to help alleviate the chaos. But there are other variables involved the US expected. These death squads aren't going for the big men but for the splinter cells only.
US MilitaryThe United States trains at least 100,000 foreign soldiers and police from more than 150 countries each year at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Tens of thousands study in the US at the approximately 275 known military schools and installations that provide training; the US trains many more in their own nations through a variety of programs. Closure of the US Army’s recently renamed School of the Americas (SOA) has been the principal focus to date of campaigners concerned about the human rights impact of US military and police training. But SOA is just the tip of the iceberg.
School of the AmericasThe School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2001 renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
It was initially established in Panama in 1946 however it was expelled from Panama in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty (article iv) and reinforced under the Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal (article v).
Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA have left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. For this reason the School of the Americas has been historically dubbed the “School of Assassins”.
Since 1946, the SOA has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.
SOA Changes its Name to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
On January 17, 2001 the School of the Americas was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. This was the result of a Department of Defense proposal included in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal 2001. The measure passed when the House of Representatives defeated a bi-partisan amendment to close the school and conduct a congressional investigation by a narrow ten vote margin. The amendment was sponsored by Representatives Moakley (D-MA), Scarborough (R-FL), Campbell (R-CA) and McGovern (D-MA) . The following is a summary comparison of the "new" school with the School of the Americas.
In a media interview last year, Georgia Senator and SOA supporter, the late Paul Coverdell, characterized the DOD proposal as "cosmetic" changes that would ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation. Critics of the SOA concur. The new military training school is the continuation of the SOA under a new name. It is a new name, but the same shame.
The approach taken by the DOD is not grounded in any critical assessment of the training, procedures, performance, or results (consequences) of the training program it copies. Further, it ignores congressional concern and public outcry over the SOA’s past and present link to human rights atrocities.
From its beginning, the mission of the SOA has been to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the US and their cohorts in Latin America. Labor leaders and union organizers have always been among the primary targets of SOA violence.
The school was made infamous in 1996 with the release of a torture training manual used in the 1980s. It has schooled hundreds of soldiers who have committed documented human rights abuses in Latin America, including some of those involved in the murder of six Jesuit priests in 1989 in El Salvador. The links to such abuses continue, most notably in Colombia.
Supporters say the school has promoted peace. More accurately, it has trained soldiers to defend dictatorships against the poor and disenfranchised of their own countries. Graduates include Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian dictator jailed for drug dealing.
The school changed its name in 2001, but its mission and curriculum remain essentially the same.
"It's connected to terrorism, violence and atrocities," said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran and Catholic priest who led the fight against the school after working with the poor in Bolivia.
For many Latin Americans, the school symbolizes what's wrong with U.S. foreign policy. Keeping it open will further damage relations south of the border without advancing U.S. interests.
Congress should shut this Cold War relic down.
Mexican graduates of the School of the Americas have played a key role in the “low-intensity conflict” in the States of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. At least 13 top military officials involved in the conflict are SOA grads. These are: Col. Harold B. Rambling Torres , Brig. Gen. Carmelo Teheran Montero, Col. Jose Luis Ruvalcaba , Brig. Gen. Carlos Demetrio Gaytan Ochoa, Col. German Antonio Bautista , Gaston Menchaca Arias, Miguel Leyva Garcia, Enrique Alonso Garrido, Manuel Garcia Ruiz, Adrian Maldonado Ramirez, Edmundo Elpidio Leyva Galindo, Renato Garcia Gonzalez, and Jose Ruben Rivas Pena (see below). (Nuevo Amanecer Press and Covert Action Quarterly).
COL Augusto Mois?s Garc?a Ochoa,1977, Jungle Operations
Suspected drug-trafficking, 1997: Listed by a leading Mexican news
magazine as one of the 32 Mexican officers under investigation in drug
TCL Rene Herrera Huizar, 1980, Operaciones de Patrulla
Suspected drug-trafficking, 1997: Listed by a leading Mexican news
magazine as one of 32 Mexican military officers under investigation by
the Mexican government for suspected ties to drug-trafficking (Proceso)
GEN Juan L?pez Ortiz, 1959, Infantry Arms; 1959, Infantry Tactics
Ocosingo Massacre, 1994: Troops under his command massacred five persons
in the Ocosingo market; the prisoners’ hands were tied behind their
backs before the soldiers shot them in the back of the head (Covert
GEN Luis Montiel L?pez, 1962, Counterinsurgency
Intimidation of human rights activists, 1992: Forces under Gen.
Montiel's command falsely accused human rights activists in Chihuahua
of "aiding drug traffickers" in an attempt to intimidate them.
(Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights: Civilians at Risk: Military and
Police Abuses in the Mexican Countryside)
GEN Fernan Perez Casanova, 1962, CIO Contrainsurrecci?n
Suspected drug-trafficking, 1997: Listed by a leading Mexican news
magazine as one of 32 officers under investigation by the Mexican
government for suspected ties to drug-trafficking (Proceso).
Jose Ruben Rivas Pena, 1980, Comando y Estado Mayor
Called for the formation of paramilitary groups: Rivas Pena wrote the
army’s “Campaign Plan Chiapas 94” which calls for the “training and
support for self-defense forces or other paramilitary organizations.”
(NACLA Report on the Americas). Rivas Pena is also credited with saying:
“The Vatican is the indirect cause of the conflict in Chiapas, which is
directly sponsored by a contaminated current of Liberation Theology.”
(Nuevo Amanecer Press)
US Army JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Ft. Bragg, NCDescribed in one Pentagon publication as "the Army’s special operations university," Ft. Bragg is the home of the US Army Special Forces (the "Green Berets"), troops that specialize in unconventional warfare and psychological operations. These units were actively engaged in the counterinsurgency wars of the 1960s-80s, training insurgent and state affiliated paramilitary forces, and they have frequently participated in covert operations run by the intelligence community. Foreign officers from Colombia, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Mexico, Philippines, Nepal, Thailand, Turkey and other countries studied at Ft. Bragg in recent years.
Army Community Services at Fort Bragg has established the Multicultural Readiness Program. A recent Awards Achievement Program ceremony honored women from Colombia, El Salvador, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Russia and South Korea.
Program manager Maria Meloro underscored its importance to the Fort Bragg and Army communities with this overview: "The MRP goal is to integrate foreign-born spouses into the community by making them more aware of social and recreational programs, information and referral services, and volunteer and cultural awareness training opportunities while they deal with the challenges of relocation, mobilization and deployment. Additionally, spouses learn key coping skills and have access to essential resources and support systems needed to deal with the challenges and changing roles required by their military lifestyle."
According to a 2003 U.S. Census report, this country's minority population is projected to rise to 43.6 percent by 2020 - an 8.3 percent increase from current figures. Since the military is a reflection of society, minority soldier representation in the military is expected to continue to increase, adding thousands of foreign-born family members to the armed forces family as well.
More than 100,000 parachute jumps are completed each year at Fort Bragg. Little wonder, since America's largest Army installation is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps, which commands four of the U.S. Army's 10 active duty divisions. Just one of those divisions actually resides at the base: the famed 82nd Airborne Division. The U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Army Parachute Team (the Golden Knights) also call Fort Bragg home.
About 43,000 military and 8,000 civilian personnel work on post. Every day, military and civilian employees in careers ranging from trades and labor to engineers and attorneys provide the services needed to train, sustain and deploy America's strategic response forces.
Fort Bragg was stung by negative publicity in 2002 from a series of domestic homicides - in response, the Army began a program to help soldiers readjust after overseas deployment and combat - and, more recently, from reports of child abuse. By most accounts, however, it is a friendly, close-knit community.
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