Posts Tagged ‘Narco-trafficking’

Brutal Gang Violence Reigns In El Salvador

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
wbur

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR — In a country with all the sun and verdure of an idyllic resort, but none of its safety, new white vans and pick-ups convey a steady supply of corpses through the crowded traffic of San Salvador, the capital city, to the Office of the Medical Examiner. Fifty-two murders in 72 hours, said local newspaper headlines on Nov. 18.

If you want to know why so many Salvadorans are running north this year, the medical examiner’s receiving room seems a good place to start. The victims keep the metal autopsy tables and attending doctors at full capacity. On display are the youth of El Salvador.

“Seventy percent of the people who are killed are between 15 and 30 years old,” Dr. Miguel Enrique Velasquez says in Spanish.

According to a recent report from UNICEF, El Salvador has the world’s highest rate of homicide for ... Read More

Farc ‘amnesty’: Colombian marchers reject ‘impunity’

| December 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Thousands of people have joined protests in Colombia against a possible amnesty for Farc rebels as part of a peace process to end 50 years of conflict.Many of the marchers were supporters of former President Alvaro Uribe, an opponent of his successor, Juan Manuel Santos.

They argue that peace should not come at the price of impunity.

In two years of talks in Havana, a number of issues have been agreed.

Negotiators are now discussing how the left-wing rebels should lay down their arms, and whether they should face prosecution for human rights atrocities and drug trafficking.

The rallies in several cities across the country were organised by the Colombia Quiere movement and backed by the Centro Democratic Party of former President Uribe.

In Medellin, where Mr Uribe led the march, he said: “We call on the army to support us by fighting and defeating the guerrillas, if the government wants it or not.”

On social ... Read More

Violence in Mexico and Central America

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

FROM the age of 13 Victor Toruño walked the dirt streets of Hialeah, a slum in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, with a shotgun in his hands. His gang, Los Cancheros (a cancha is a sports pitch), ruled the neighbourhood. “We felt that with guns we were like gods, we could do anything we liked,” he says. Gang members were his only friends; a tattoo of a skull on his left arm commemorates one whose head was cut off with a machete. “I was machista. I was the one who told everyone what to do. I was like a psychopath,” he says.

Mr Toruño, now 27, absorbed the codes of machismo from infancy. While he hid under the bed, his father would beat up his mother. His father later abandoned the family. Mr Toruño developed the same traits. He abused his partner, Martha, yelled at his two children and felt hatred for ... Read More

The Day after Tomorrow: Colombia’s FARC and the End of the Conflict

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
International Crisis Group

Talks to end five decades of civil conflict in Colombia have seen unprecedented progress. But negotiators still need to agree on arguably the most sensitive point on their agenda: a bilateral ceasefire, the “leaving behind of weapons” (or disarmament) and the reintegration of FARC members. In its latest report, The Day after Tomorrow: Colombia’s FARC and the End of the Conflict, the International Crisis Group examines which guarantees will be needed so that both sides can trust the future agreement. The stakes could not be higher. If FARC’s transition to civilian life fails or is incomplete, more violence could ensue, posing threats to the political legitimacy of the entire peace accord.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

To win public faith in the talks and break the ground for a definitive ceasefire, both parties need to de-escalate the confrontation and build mutual confidence. This requires FARC to end ... Read More

Mexico missing students fury rocks President Pena Nieto

| December 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

By Will Grant

As Enrique Pena Nieto reached his second year in office, he might well have reflected on how quickly the narrative of a presidency can change.

In February, his airbrushed photograph graced the front cover of Time magazine with the much derided headline “Saving Mexico” emblazoned underneath.

Mr Pena Nieto had “passed the most ambitious package of social, political and economic reforms in memory”, the publication said, adding that “alarms are being replaced with applause” in the country.

Now any applause for Mr Pena Nieto by the political and business elite has been drowned out by the near-constant calls for him to step down.

His anniversary, on 1 December, was marked by Molotov cocktails, broken windows and protesters clashing with the police in Mexico City.

The chain of events that sparked the crisis began on the night of 26 September.

Amid a protest in the town of Iguala, police fired on unarmed student teachers, killing six people.

The officers ... Read More

Mexico sends federal troops into towns plagued by drug gangs

| December 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Mexican federal troops will replace local police in 32 municipalities, a top security official said on Wednesday, in a bid to contain drug gangs that have fueled a surge in violence and often operate in league with local police.

Last week, President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to stop collusion between officials and drug gangs as he tried to defuse anger over an apparent massacre of 43 students in September in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

Monte Alejandro Rubido, director of the National Security Commission, said in a statement that military troops and federal police had taken control of security operations in the municipalities spread across the states of Guerrero, Michoacan and the State of Mexico.

The government did not say how many federal troops had been deployed in the operation.

Pena Nieto is under growing pressure from protesters to end impunity and brutality by security ... Read More

Mexico’s law-and-order crisis: Missing the point

| November 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

On November 27th Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, did what he should have done long ago: he announced a series of measures aimed at making the rule of law a priority of his administration. He did it in response to a groundswell of protest against his government triggered by the disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero two months ago. But in failing to acknowledge any responsibility for the crisis, and in failing to challenge the entire political system to clean up its act, he may have missed a chance to turn the tide of public opinion.

In a nutshell, he localised the problem. He said he would draft laws to enable the authorities to remove municipal authorities colluding with drug traffickers, as allegedly happened with tragic consequences for the 43 students. He plans to replace Mexico’s 1,800 municipal police forces with 32 ... Read More

Will Scandals In Mexico Dampen Investment?

| November 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

By Nathaniel Parish Flannery

The past few months have been a difficult time for Mexico. In a recent article for the World Politics Review I explained, “Autumn has been a difficult season for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Public furor has erupted into sustained and sometimes violent protests over the disappearance of 43 students in the rural southwestern state of Guerrero. Long one of Mexico’s poorest, most crime-ridden and isolated states, Guerrero had not been a priority for Pena Nieto’s administration, which has focused tirelessly on promoting the image of a modern and efficient Mexico to foreign investors.”  Although 2014 has marked a number of successful economic reforms and an uptick in economic growth, Mexico’s autumn has been sullied by scandals.

In a recent article for the International Peace Institute‘s Global Observatory I explained, “For nearly two years, Peña Nieto has trumpeted a series of ambitious reforms and also studiously worked to avoid discussing security issues. His entrance into office ... Read More

Mexico’s security crisis: Will Iguala be a wake-up call?

| November 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA AND JOSÉ R. CÁRDENAS

Key points:

The kidnapping and probable murder of 43 students at the hands of corrupt local officials and drug gangsters in September is a tragic reminder of persistent criminality and weak government institutions in much of Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has prioritized key economic reforms over security, and his administration must now deal with instability that undermines his goal to modernize Mexico. The United States should invigorate security cooperation with Mexico to fight crime and secure the border to safeguard the long-term benefits of a healthy US-Mexico economic partnership.

Mexico’s democracy, stability, and economy require a collaborative response from all levels of government to quell the wave of recent political unrest and address the underlying causes of insecurity and public dissatisfaction. The current crisis—sparked by national outrage over the September 26 disappearance of 43 students near the town of Iguala in ... Read More

Colombia kidnap: Farc to release Gen Alzate ‘next week’

| November 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Colombia’s Farc rebels will release five captives, including Gen Ruben Dario Alzate, next week, President Juan Manuel Santos has announced.

Mr Santos said information about their release had been received, but he did not specify when it would happen.

Ruben Dario Alzate is the first Colombian general to be abducted in 50 years of civil conflict.

Peace talks between the two sides were suspended after the men were captured by the left-wing rebels last Sunday.

Cuban and Norwegian officials acting as mediators first announced a deal for their release on Thursday.

The rebels said they seized the men because they were unhappy at the continuation of Colombian military activities during peace talks.

Handover details: Arturo Wallace, BBC News, Bogota

President Juan Manuel Santos is likely to order the interruption of any military operations in a designated area for a short period of time, usually no more than 48 hours A delegation of the Red ... Read More

‘Ground Zero’: Tracking Heroin From Colombia to America’s Streets

| November 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
CNBC-01

BY MARK POTTER

BOGOTA, Colombia — The peaks of the Andes broke through the mist and clouds as a Blackhawk helicopter carried the Colombian national police toward a remote, rugged area often patrolled by insurgent guerrillas.

The mission: Visit a colorful poppy field on a steep mountainside about 300 miles south of Bogota — the place where much of the white heroin flooding American cities along the Eastern Seaboard originates.

 As the chopper approached the landing zone on a grassy mountaintop, Colombian police in military-style uniforms waved it into position. Peasant farmers, some with faces covered, watched suspiciously. Colombian police and officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, along with a crew from NBC News that they had invited along, climbed out of the helicopter and made their way down a rough, muddy trail, huffing and puffing in thin air.

Around the corner was a stunning sight — a four-acre ... Read More

Obama administration would back sanctions against Venezuela: official

| November 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration would like to work with the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on Venezuela in response to a crackdown on anti-government protests, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Tony Blinken, who is Obama’s choice to be deputy secretary of state, said Washington had refrained from pushing for sanctions in the past few months to allow diplomatic efforts by some Latin American countries to secure the release of opposition leaders from jail and nudge Caracas toward electoral reform.

But those efforts have failed, Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his nomination hearing. “We would not oppose moving forward with additional sanctions,” he said.

In July, Washington barred a group of Venezuelan officials, including government ministers and presidential advisers, from the United States after accusing them of abuses in the crackdown on protests against President Nicolas Maduro this spring.

But the State Department did not ... Read More

Mexico: Violent Protests Hit Acapulco’s Tourism

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By ALBERTO ARCE

Mexico’s president has tried to keep the issue of violence issue separate from his focus on the economy, but the two are converging as violent protests over 43 disappeared students squelch tourism in Acapulco just before a major holiday weekend.

As Mexico prepares to commemorate its 1910 revolution Monday, hotels in the Pacific resort city have seen a wave of cancellations after demonstrators temporarily shut down the airport, blocked highways and attacked government and political offices in the southern state of Guerrero.

Acapulco hotel occupancy rates are currently at 20 percent, well short of the 85 percent expected for this long weekend when Mexicans typically flock to the beaches, Joaquin Badillo, president of the Employers’ Association for Guerrero state, said Wednesday.

More cancellations have been registered for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year for Acapulco tourism, and Badillo said one company that operates 10 hotels has cut about 200 ... Read More

If Colombia’s guerrillas sign a peace deal, will the guns go silent?

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

Several weeks ago on the outskirts of the northwestern town of Montelíbano, a police caravan was ambushed. By the time the firefight was over, seven police officers were dead and another seven were wounded, making it the second most lethal attack on the armed forces this year.

However, what worried the authorities was who they claim was behind the attack: a joint assault by the 58th front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and their sworn enemies, the Urabeños — the country’s largest criminal gang, also known as the Úsuga.

Government negotiators and the FARC have spent the last two years in Havana trying to hammer out a peace deal that would allow the 50-year-old guerrilla force to lay down its arms and re-enter society. The negotiations are taking place without a cease-fire, and attacks are frequent.

But the Sept. 16 ambush fueled skeptics’ worst fears: What if ... Read More

In Mexico, Still No Justice

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By JAMES A. GOLDSTON

On Friday, Mexican officials announced that three members of a drug cartel had confessed to burning the bodies of 43 students who were abducted in Iguala, a town in the southern state of Guerrero, on Sept. 26 and then killed. The mayor of Iguala and his wife are in custody, accused of ordering the seizure of the students by local police, who then handed them over to the drug gangs. The discovery, during the search for the students, of other mass graves in the area has reinforced the picture of a catastrophic local breakdown of law and order.

But this is much more than the story of a small town, or even a country, in thrall to drug gangs. The response to the Guerrero abductions over the past six weeks underscores the central problem that President Enrique Peña Nieto now needs to ... Read More

Who’s to blame for El Salvador’s gang violence?

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
PBS News Hour

During El Salvador’s brutal civil war 30 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people fled to the United States, where some joined dangerous Latino gangs for protection and a livelihood. Soon after, many of these gang members were deported back to El Salvador, establishing a new and threatening presence in their home country. NewsHour Special Correspondent John Carlos Frey reports from El Salvador.

TRANSCRIPT

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Miguel Angel Gomez, a 30-year-old taxi driver here in El Salvador spends a lot of time looking in his rear-view mirror, worried that he’ll be the next victim of a notoriously violent street gang that already murdered Miguel’s brother.

A local news report showed the scene of the crime.

MIGUEL ANGEL GOMEZ: First they shot him and then they beheaded him. Here if they don’t like you or for any little thing, they have you killed.

JOHN ... Read More

Drug Cartels Find Argentina Attractive Transit Way

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Guatemalan authorities have captured Efraín Cifuentes González, also known as “El Negro Sosa,” considered one of the most important members of the Sinaloa cartel operating in Guatemala.

Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla told The Associated Press that the alleged drug trafficker was arrested on Thursday evening in the village of Las Cruces, in the northern department of Petén.

“A formal operation was launched Thursday night to move into position and start the raid. [He] was hiding in a house surrounded by a swamp; he tried to flee, there was crossfire, no injuries, and he was finally captured,” López Bonilla said.

According to information from intelligence officials, who asked not to be identified by name because they were not authorized to speak on record, Cifuentes is linked to the Sinaloa cartel and controls the movement of drugs through Guatemala into Mexico.

After being trained ... Read More

Mexico’s missing students generate unwanted attention on security

| November 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA AND FELIPE TRIGOS

Mexican authorities are scrambling to quell the furor caused by the disappearance of 43 college students in late September from Iguala, a municipality in the southern state of Guerrero. Once again, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has been caught off-guard by a scandal that shows that Mexico has not out-grown its history of insecurity and corruption.

Many suspect that the students are the victims of drug-related violence that continues unabated in various parts of the country. According to local published reports, the mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, suspected that some of the missing students had ties to the narco-trafficking organization, Los Rojos, and ordered that they be detained and turned over to members of Guerreros Unidos, a rival drug gang allegedly managed by Abarca’s wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda.

The state of Guerrero has seen high levels of criminality ... Read More

Mexico’s Gulf Cartel Drug Kingpin Captured in Texas

| October 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) –The head of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug trafficking ring was arrested by federal agents during a shopping trip in south Texas in the latest in a series of arrests this year on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The capture of Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, on Oct. 9 follows that in February of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was the world’s most-wanted drug boss and the alleged head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Hector Beltran Leyva, who allegedly took over a third cartel that bears his family name after his brother, Arturo, was gunned down by Mexican forces in 2009, was captured in a seafood restaurant without a shot fired in the central tourist town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico’s Attorney General’s office said Oct. 1.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in September that his administration’s security efforts have led to the capture or removal ... Read More

Why Bolivia could be the new hub for regional drug trafficking

| October 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Jeremy McDermott

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

This new criminal dynamic centers on the changing patterns of drug consumption in the region. Mexico’s dominance in the regional drug trade owes much to its position alongside the world’s largest drug consumer, as well as its ability to produce drugs like heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

Bolivia now sits alongside the second biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world: Brazil. Bolivia also borders the world’s principal producer of cocaine, Peru, and South America’s primary producer of marijuana, Paraguay. Meanwhile, Argentina is experiencing ballooning domestic drug consumption, particularly of “basuco” or “paco,” a form of crack cocaine which can be produced in Bolivia. Even the domestic drug markets in Chile and Peru are growing.

Bolivia is now literally at the heart of South America’s illegal narcotics trade. ... Read More

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