Posts Tagged ‘Narco-trafficking’

Colombia Leader Lashes Back at Critics of His Peace Effort

| April 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

BY JOSHUA GOODMAN

President Juan Manuel Santos lashed out on Tuesday at opponents he accuses of fueling a wave of booing that has greeted him in the days since a deadly attack by leftist guerrillas dealt a major setback to negotiations with Colombia’s biggest rebel movement.

To shouts of “liar” and “get out,” Santos was loudly jeered by dozens of spectators at a 10-kilometer run Sunday in Bogota to benefit soldiers wounded in combat. The frenzied scene repeated itself when he visited Medellin the next day.

Santos addressed his critics directly Tuesday, urging them to listen to other voices instead of just trying to drown out his. He said he is open to criticism but won’t be deterred by those opposing his peace efforts, among them his predecessor as president, Alvaro Uribe.

“You can follow me all around the country and try to sabotage every event I attend, but I won’t be detained in my pursuit ... Read More

Nicolás Maduro negotiated the presence of Hezbollah militants in Venezuela with that organization

| April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01 BY EMILI J. BLASCO   Nicolás Maduro directly negotiated with the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, the deployment of cells from that radical Shiite organization in and from Venezuela. In a meeting arranged by Hugo Chávez in 2007,  then Foreign Minister Maduro and Nasrallah met in Damascus and developed a framework agreement that protected drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, and delivery of passports for the Lebanese militia, which the United States labels as a terrorist organization.   This is revealed in “Boomerang Chavez: The fraud that led to the collapse of Venezuela”(Amazon). The testimony of the meeting was provided by Rafael Isea, former Deputy Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Economic and Social Development Bank (Bandes) of Venezuela. Isea was at the meeting and revealed what was discussed to U.S. authorities. A very close associate of Chavez, Isea escaped to Washington in 2013 after falling out of favor at the beginning of the ... Read More

How to Fix the Mess in Venezuela

| April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY ALEJANDRO TOLEDO

LIMA, Peru — The recent news from Venezuela has been troubling — and also far from surprising. As the Venezuelan economy continues to struggle and inflation pushes many of the most basic everyday needs out of reach of ordinary working people, President Nicolás Maduro has responded, not with a plan, but with a crackdown. It has included arresting Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Caracas, and other opposition figures on questionable charges — to say nothing of the jailings of peaceful protesters.

Mr. Maduro’s attempts to deflect criticism by pointing to aggression from the United States and international meddling — even if they were rooted in fact — would do nothing to solve Venezuela’s problems. If he were a serious leader, he would look first at the Venezuelan economy, which, in reality, is at least two economies, separate and far from equal.

... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro: two years of troubles

| April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

Say what you will about Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, but one thing is certain: the man was denied a honeymoon. During his first two years atop Latin America’s fifth-largest economy, Maduro seemed to face a lifetime of troubles: widespread social protests, tanking oil prices, rampant crime, and (according to him) dozens of coup and assassination attempts.

On Sunday, Maduro began his third year in power, but his troubles are far from behind him. In fact, the next years could be even more turbulent and decisive for the man who narrowly won a contested election in 2013 to replace his late boss and mentor Hugo Chávez.

The most obvious hurdle will be National Assembly elections this year that will test party discipline and Maduro’s popularity. The results — and how both sides accept victory and defeat — will be a preamble for an even higher-stakes ... Read More

Can Obama Rescue His Failing Latin America Policy?

| April 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

U.S. President Barack Obama has clearly noticed that many in Latin America and the Caribbean have an uncanny affinity for the myth of the Cuban revolution. What he has yet to realize, however, is that the vast majority of the region’s citizens would rather live in the Chile built by Augusto Pinochet than in the Cuba destroyed by Fidel Castro.

As Obama travels to Panama this week for his third Summit of the Americas, he encounters a region that has lost stability and prosperity since the president first attended the summit in 2009. Although he hoped to harvest accolades for his rapprochement with Havana, Obama will instead be greeted by a coterie of hostile counterparts, led by Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and abetted by Castro, who are determined to sever Washington’s remaining influence in a hemisphere critical to U.S. prosperity and security.

To be fair, other OAS leaders insisted that Castro ... Read More

The Left’s Mess in Venezuela

| March 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY KEVIN D. WILLIAMSONVenezuela had a good run of it for about five minutes there, at least in public-relations terms. When petroleum prices were booming, all it took was a few gallons of heating oil from Hugo Chávez to buy the extravagant praise of House members, with Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Philadelphia) issuing statements praising Venezuela’s state-run oil company “and the Venezuelan people for their benevolence.” Lest anybody feel creeped out by running political errands for a brutal and repressive caudillo, Joseph Kennedy — son of Senator Robert Kennedy — proclaimed that refusing the strongman’s patronage would be “a crime against humanity.” Kennedy was at the time the director of Citizens Energy, which had a contract to help distribute that Venezuelan heating oil — Boss Hugo was a brute, but he understood American politics.

Celebrities came to sit at his feet, with Sean Penn calling him a “champion” of the ... Read More

Zetas Leader Is Arrested in Mexico

| March 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

MEXICO CITY — The leader of the Zetas — a Mexican criminal group notorious for its brutal murders — was arrested Wednesday without a shot fired in northern Mexico, as the authorities toppled yet another kingpin in a long and aggressive campaign against the group.

Federal police officers and soldiers swooped in on the leader, Omar Treviño Morales, known as Z-42 in the group’s militaristic system of code names, in San Pedro Garza García, an affluent suburb of Monterrey, Mexico, a business and industrial hub.

Mr. Morales, 38, had not led the group for long. In July 2013, his brother, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales — considered one of the gang’s most ruthless enforcers — was arrested just a year after taking over from another top leader, Heriberto Lazcano. Mr. Lazcano died in a shootout with the Mexican Navy in ... Read More

Is Venezuela losing faith in Hugo Chavez’s successor?

| March 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

By Will Grant

It was clear from the very start that many Chavez supporters weren’t so sure about Nicolas Maduro.Shortly after his untimely death from cancer on 5 March 2013 – and just days before the presidential election that saw Mr Maduro elected by the narrowest of margins – I visited the charismatic socialist leader’s stronghold of 23 de Enero in Caracas.

Inside her government-built apartment, local Socialist Party (PSUV) women’s cooperative leader Judith Vegas fought back the tears at the mere mention of Hugo Chavez.

His death was as raw to her as the loss of a member of her own family.

But when it came to his chosen successor, her attitude noticeably hardened.

She would vote for Mr Maduro as Mr Chavez had asked, she said, but he wasn’t guaranteed her unflinching support simply because he had been by Chavez’s side.

Fast-forward two years, and even committed “Chavistas” like Judith are losing the faith.

In a recent ... Read More

Mexico Captures Knights Templar Cartel Leader ‘La Tuta’

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Anahi Rama

MEXICO CITY, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Mexico has captured the country’s most wanted drug lord still at large, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, police said on Friday, in a boost for President Enrique Pena Nieto as he grapples with grisly gang violence.

Gomez, 49, was the prime target of Pena Nieto’s drive to regain control of Michoacan, a violent western state wracked by clashes between Gomez’s Knights Templar cartel and heavily-armed vigilantes trying to oust them.

His arrest comes a year after the capture of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling gangs in the world.

It also comes as Pena Nieto seeks to quell outrage over violence, impunity and corruption in Mexico after the abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by corrupt police in league with gang members.

A police spokesman said federal police captured Gomez ... Read More

Mexico captures most wanted drug kingpin, ‘La Tuta

| February 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Anahi Rama

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico has captured the country’s most wanted drug lord still at large, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, police said on Friday, in a boost for President Enrique Pena Nieto as he grapples with grisly gang violence.

The 49-year-old former teacher was the prime target of Pena Nieto’s drive to regain control of Michoacan, a violent western state wracked by clashes between Gomez’s Knights Templar cartel and heavily-armed vigilantes trying to oust them.

The arrest came just over a year after the capture of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling gangs in the world.

It also comes as Pena Nieto seeks to quell outrage over violence, impunity and corruption in Mexico after the September abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by corrupt ... Read More

Dominican drug trafficker says he donated $4.6m to country’s ex-president

| February 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

A convicted drug trafficker and former captain of the Dominican Republic’s army told a local TV station Thursday that he donated millions of dollars to former president Leonel Fernandez.

A man who identified himself as Quirino Ernesto Paulino told TV station Teleradio America on a video call that he donated some $4.6m in cash from 2002 to 2004 that was delivered in suitcases. Fernandez was elected president for a second time in 2004 after serving from 1996 to 2002.

Paulino was arrested in December 2004 following the seizure of nearly 1,400kg (3,100lb) of cocaine, the largest ever at that time. He was extradited to the United States in 2005 on charges of money laundering and of allegedly importing 30 metric tonnes of cocaine into that country. He served a 10-year sentence following a plea deal and remains in the US to testify in other cases.

Fernandez said in a brief statement that Paulino’s ... Read More

Tijuana Cartel Resurgent in Mexico: Official

| February 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
From In Sight

BY DAVID GAGNE

Mexico’s Tijuana Cartel is reportedly marshaling its forces in an attempt to gain back some of its lost glory, according to one security official, providing a look at the current state of a once powerful criminal empire that has since fallen into decline.

Some leaders of the Tijuana Cartel have left prison and are once again engaging in criminal activities in the border city, Tijuana’s Public Security Minister Alejandro Lares Valladares told investigative magazine Zeta Tijuana. Juan Lorenzo Vargas Gallardo, alias “El Chan,” is in charge of restructuring the organization, the magazine reported. However, several other former heads of the cartel have also taken on leaderships roles, including Manuel Lopez Nunez, alias “El Balas,” and Pedro Quintero Velazquez, alias “El 5-8.”

Lares Valladares also said that violent confrontations between the Tijuana and Sinaloa Cartel are ongoing in the region. In recent years, the Sinaloa Cartel has largely taken over drug ... Read More

Mismanagement, corruption and the oil slump are fraying Venezuela’s regime

| February 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

On a Wednesday evening around 30 pensioners have gathered for a meeting in a long, brightly lit room in a largely abandoned shopping gallery in Santa Teresa, a rundown and overcrowded district in the centre of Caracas. After a video and some announcements, Alexis Rondón, an official of the Ministry of Social Movements and Communes, begins to speak. “Chávez lives,” he says. “Make no mistake: our revolution is stronger than ever.”

Mr Rondón’s rambling remarks over the next 45 minutes belie that claim. Saying Venezuela is faced with an “economic war”, he calls on his audience to check food queues for outsiders, who might be profiteers or troublemakers, and to draw up a census of the district to identify opposition activists and government supporters. “We must impose harsh controls,” he warns. “This will be a year of struggle”.

About this, at least, Mr Rondón is correct. Sixteen years ... Read More

Analytic Guidance: Venezuela’s Political Factions

| February 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Stratfor Summary

As its economic crisis grows more severe, Venezuela is paralyzed by a struggle among the political factions that make up its ruling elite. Since former President Hugo Chavez’s death, these groups have essentially ruled the country by committee. Caracas has been gridlocked on key policy decisions as a result. However, Venezuela’s precipitous economic decline will require some kind of action, making the political impasse unsustainable.

Though Venezuela’s economic and political future ultimately will depend on greater forces, such as global oil prices, the various factions will influence short-term events and decisions. These groups will face difficulties in the legislative election scheduled for October. A loss in that election could threaten their unity and lead them to challenge President Nicolas Maduro’s authority.

Analysis

The roots of Venezuela’s fractured political system lie in the origins of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela. When he became president in 1999, Chavez counted on the backing of numerous leftist civilians who had ... Read More

Mexico’s ‘Queen of the Pacific’ released from prison

| February 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
From CNN

(CNN) In Mexico’s male-dominated drug trade, her life story became a legend.

Now, after more than seven years behind bars, the woman known as “The Queen of the Pacific” is free. A judge ruled in favor of her appeal last week, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement Saturday.

Sandra Ávila Beltrán’s story is the subject of a best-selling book and a popular ballad.

She was first arrested in Mexico City on September 28, 2007, smiling before cameras as authorities trumpeted her detention.

Later, Ávila made headlines when Mexican authorities said they were investigating a tip that she had received Botox treatments in prison.

Ávila is the niece of Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, founder of the now-defunct Guadalajara cartel. She’s also related to drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who was released from a Mexican prison in a controversial 2013 decision and now has ... Read More

Venezuela’s political crisis grows more explosive

| February 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

As Venezuela drifts toward repression, the Obama administration has failed to “name and shame” human rights violators, as mandated by Congress last December. Robust U.S. action is more critical than ever, as authorities in Caracas last week approved the use of deadly force against Venezuelans protesting food shortages and fresh revelations on the criminality of regime leaders.

Career diplomats managing Venezuela policy have a record of favoring stability over freedom in that country. They fiercely resisted Congress’ call for sanctions against individuals using violence to quell student-led demonstrations last spring—giving regime gangs time to crush the unrest, leaving 44 dead, hundreds jailed, and thousands injured.

In the midst of the crackdown last March, Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson told a U.S. Senate hearing that opposition leaders opposed human rights sanctions against the regime—an assertion she was forced to recant within days. In an effort to forestall Congressional action last July, the Administration revoked ... Read More

Is This Scandal the Proof That Venezuela Has Finally Become a Narco-State?

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

BY DANIEL LANSBERG-RODRÍGUEZ

With its economic woes multiplying by the day, the last thing the Venezuelan government needs is another blow to its international reputation. But that’s exactly what it got yesterday, when the Spanish newspaper ABC reported that an ex-bodyguard of Diosdado Cabello, the speaker of the Venezuelan parliament, has provided information to U.S. authorities implicating his former boss as a kingpin in the drug trade. According to the report, Leamsy Salazar, a well-connected officer within the Venezuelan armed forces, has defected to the United States, and is set to serve as the star witness in an American investigation into ties between the Caracas government and powerful narcotics syndicates.

Given his background, Salazar certainly ought to be in the know. Prior to turning state’s witness, he spent over a decade as the head of Hugo Chávez’s personal security detail and sometime personal assistant; a YouTube video currently making the rounds on ... Read More

Mexico AG: Captured drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman won’t be extradited to US anytime soon

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By MARIA VERZA, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Captured Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will not be extradited to the United States anytime soon, Mexico’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said he was expecting to receive a formal request later in the day from Washington, which also wants to prosecute Guzman on drug trafficking charges. But U.S. authorities will have a long wait.

“I could accept extradition, but at the time that I choose. ‘El Chapo’ must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him,” Murillo Karam told The Associated Press in an interview. “So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.”

Murillo Karam later clarified that he was referring to the time that it would take for Guzman to complete his sentences, “given all the crimes ... Read More

El Salvador gang leaders seek talks with government over violence

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Leaders of El Salvador’s main street gangs on Tuesday urged the government to begin a dialogue to reduce violence and tone down its tough stance against their members after the vice president said police could open fire on them if necessary.

Violence in El Salvador has jumped over the past year after a 2012 truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and rival gang Barrio 18 started to unravel, and last Wednesday Vice President Oscar Ortiz said police should respond with force “without any fear of suffering consequences” if threatened by gang members.

The following day, authorities registered no murders in the country for a 24-hour stretch, the first time that had happened in more than 2-1/2 years, according to the police.

In a statement, the gang leaders said “the difficult situation the country is going through requires proactive steps and messages in support of peace, ... Read More

Diosdado Cabello identified as the head of the Cartel of the Suns

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

[Translation by IASW]

By Antonio Maria Delgado

Leamsy Salazar, Venezuelan [navy] captain who was the head of security for the late Hugo Chávez, arrived Monday in Washington to assist in an investigation headed by U.S. authorities regarding the links between chavismo and drug trafficking.

Salazar, who spent much of his career alongside Chavez arrives in the United States as a protected witness and may provide the most devastating details presented so far about chavismo. According to sources close to the investigation, in his testimony, Salazar argues that the drug trafficking organization known as Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) is led by President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

“This has been the hardest blow that has been given to chavismo. This is the man who has provided all the secrets. He was the head of security and chief of staff for Diosdado Cabello, and was the head of security of Hugo ... Read More

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