Posts Tagged ‘Narco-trafficking’

Will the Venezuelan State Fail?

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Carl Meacham

On May 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. prosecutors are in the process of investigating a number of high-up Venezuelan officials for their alleged involvement in turning Venezuela into a cocaine-trafficking and money-laundering hub.

Among those being investigated is Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s congress and arguably the second most powerful person in Venezuela-long suspected for involvement in clientelistic relationships with transnational criminal organizations operating in Venezuela’s borders.

The investigation is being carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and federal prosecutors in New York and Miami – notably, this is not under the White House’s direction or coordination. And the case they’re building has foundations in the testimony of former cocaine traffickers, defectors from the Venezuelan military, and informants who were once close to top Venezuelan officials, including the former head of Cabello’s security detail.

All of this comes to light just months ... Read More

Venezuela Exposed As A Narcosocialist Plague

| May 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
Investor's Business Daily

Narcosocialism: U.S. prosecutors and DEA agents are closing in on Venezuelan leaders for running a narcostate. This is the nation Obama has repeatedly indulged in the name of getting along. Now we know who they are.

Back in March, President Obama startled many by calling Venezuela “the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” as he slapped sanctions on seven corrupt Venezuelan officials for involvement with drug trafficking and human rights abuses.

A month after that, he made a U-turn, making nice with the dictatorship at April’s Summit of the Americas. After tears and flapdoodle about the sanctions from Venezuela’s Marxist dictatorship, Obama declared that Venezuela wasn’t a threat after all.

He was right the first time. A front page story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration officials — acting independently of politics or diplomacy — have put together ... Read More

NYC’s most legendary prosecutor sees a darker threat in Venezuela’s alleged global cocaine hub

| May 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider


On Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States is investigating high-level Venezuelan government officials for allegedly turning their country into a global cocaine hub.

Robert Morgenthau, the legendary former Manhattan District Attorney, has been making exactly that accusation for years. And for him, the Venezuelan government’s questionable activity doesn’t stop at drug running.

As early as 2009, Morgenthau was telling anyone that would listen about ties that his office was finding between the cocaine that ended up in New York City, the Venezuelan government, and Iran and its agents like the terror group Hezbollah.

From a Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote in 2009 (emphasis ours):

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported a high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and law enforcement that has allowed that country to become a major transshipment route for trafficking cocaine out of Colombia. Intelligence ... Read More

Will narcostate revelations sober State Department’s attempts to coddle Venezuelan regime?

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »

Yesterday’s blockbuster Wall Street Journal article revealing ongoing US criminal investigations into the involvement of “several high-ranking Venezuelan officials” in international drug trafficking will not have come as a surprise to anyone who has read my Congressional testimony and other reports on the subject in recent years.

Key allegations uncovered by this inquiry, which is being led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and federal prosecutors in New York and Miami, include:

The “main target” of law enforcement is National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, “considered the country’s second most-powerful man,” whom a Justice Department official characterized as “one of the heads, if not the head, of the cartel.” The investigation has intensified in the last two years, aided by the defection of Venezuelan naval officer Leamsy Salazar, one-time bodyguard to the late strongman Hugo Chávez and senior aide to Cabello, and Rafael Isea, a Chávez loyalist who left Venezuela in 2013. Former Interior Minister Tarek El ... Read More

Vigilantes Vs. Assassins on Mexico’s Heroin Highway

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

By Jeremy Kryt

On patrol with the volunteer police force going AK-47 to AK-47 with the narco-gangs in Mexico’s most dangerous state.

OCOTITO, Mexico — On an early spring morning, in the desert of Mexico’s southwestern Guerrero state, a half-dozen rusty pickups speed toward a line of late-model 4x4s blocking the road.

As armed men leap from the truck beds, the drivers swing across the tarmac, forming an opposing blockade of ancient Nissans and Ford Rangers.

Crouched behind their respective barricades, their elbows propped on hoods and fenders to steady their aim, some 40 men now draw down on each other with every kind of firearm imaginable: bolt-action hunting rifles, automatic shotguns, old-fashioned six-shooters, Uzis and M16s, even a few AK47s.

It’s just a few hours after dawn in these jagged foothills; the temperature is already in the mid-80s and climbing fast—but the tempers of the men ... Read More

Deadly Mexican Cartel Rises as New Threat

| May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By JUAN MONTES

GUADALAJARA, Jalisco—The armored vehicle carrying the top police officer of Mexico’s embattled Jalisco state had just rounded a street corner on the outskirts of this cosmopolitan city when a dozen gunmen from the New Generation Jalisco Cartel pumped more than 200 bullets into the car.

“When we tried to strike back, they threw two grenades at us,” said Alejandro Solorio, the state public security commissioner.

That late March attack, which failed to inflict casualties, presaged a rising wave of violence that has engulfed Guadalajara, the state capital and Mexico’s second-largest city, climaxing with the cartel’s downing of an army helicopter by rocket-propelled grenades that killed eight soldiers on May 1.

The attack, among the worst single-day losses for the army in Mexico’s long battle against drug traffickers, thrust the once-obscure New Generation gang forward as enemy No. 1 for President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government.

Thousands of troops, backed by armored personnel carriers and quasi-military federal police, ... Read More

New Evidence of Iran’s Presence in Latin America

| May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Center for Security Policy


A new book written by Emili Blasco, Washington correspondent for the newspaper, ABC Spain, confirms many points about Iran’s penetration into the Western Hemisphere. The book is written is Spanish but its title in English would be translated as “Boomerang Chavez”.

Among other things Blasco points out the existence of fraud in the elections via electronic manipulation. Likewise, the author also stresses the fact that 95% of the Colombian drugs bound for Europe and the U.S. depart from Venezuela. Blasco also confirms the point that I raised in my book “Latin America in the Post Chavez Era”, which has been brought first by the scholar Max Mainwaring (and most recently by Ari Chaplin), that drug trafficking is a form of asymmetric war against Washington. Diosdado Cabello, currently the President of the National Assembly along with the current Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, ... Read More

Mexico charges three with ‘terrorism’ after cartel violence

| May 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
From AFP

Mexico City (AFP) – A Mexican judge has charged three people with terrorism over their roles in a day of violence launched by a drug cartel in Jalisco state last week, authorities said.

The suspects were accused of organized crime “with the goal of committing … terrorism” by burning vehicles and using them to block roads around Mexico’s second biggest city, Guadalajara, the Federal Judicial Council said.

Three other people were released because they were “arbitrarily” detained, the council said.

Authorities say the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel launched gun fights and burned several vehicles, banks and gasoline stations across the state on May 1 to hit back at a federal operation to dismantle the gang.

The gang is accused of using a rocket-propelled grenade to down an army helicopter that was pursuing vehicles suspected of carrying a cartel leader.

The interior ministry raised the death toll from the downing to eight ... Read More

Drug trade’s lowest rung: Peru’s expendable cocaine couriers

| May 7th, 2015 | No Comments »

HUANTA, Peru (AP) — He slides two T-shirts, shorts, canned tuna, toasted corn and boiled potatoes into the rucksack atop 11 pounds of semi-refined cocaine. In a side pocket, a .38-caliber Chinese pistol.

Mardonio Borda is a 19-year-old native Quechua with broken Spanish and a sixth-grade education. But he has at least $125,000 worth of drugs on his back that he will carry out of Peru’s main coca-growing valley. He is among untold hundreds of cocaine backpackers who make the difficult and dangerous trek up Andean mountain paths first carved by their pre-Incan ancestors.

In this country that overtook Colombia in 2012 as the world’s No. 1 cocaine-producing nation, Borda regularly hikes within a few hours of the Machu Picchu tourist mecca, bound for Cuzco with drugs. Sixty percent of Peru’s cocaine comes from the remote Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley, and the backpackers trek for three to five days to deliver cocaine to traffickers ... Read More

Latin America leads world on murder map, but key cities buck deadly trend

| May 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

By Jonathan Watts

Latin America may be the most murderous continent on Earth, but huge improvements in public safety have been achieved in several major cities, according to a new homicide map of the world that is being launched this week.

Several metropolises that were once bywords for violent death – such as Medellín, Bogotá, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – have seen declines of more than 60% in the murder rate over the past two decades thanks to improved living standards, better education, decelerating urbanisation and more effective policing, say the researchers behind the Homicide Monitor.

But while overall figures are falling, the map reveals that murders are stubbornly concentrated in poor communities, and the victims are mostly young – usually black or mixed-race – men.

The Monitor is an interactive online world map with data on the distribution of murder by country, year, age of victim and – where figures are available ... Read More

Guatemalan drug ‘Queen of the South’ jailed in US

| May 6th, 2015 | No Comments »

Marllory Chacon Rossell, who was called the Queen of the South by the Guatemalan press, surrendered to US authorities last year.

She is reported to be helping them with key information.

In return, the judge agreed to keep her sentence and release date under seal for five years for her safety.

Prosecutors agreed in December to recommend that Rossell should serve less than a 10-year sentence in return for pleading guilty.

The US Treasury Department described her as “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America”.

Based in Guatemala but also operating in Honduras and Panama, Rossell’s organisation supplied cocaine shipments to Mexican drug enterprises including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Her organisation was also believed to have laundered tens of millions of US dollars in drugs proceeds each month, making her the most active money launderer in Guatemala.

... Read More

Show-down in Jalisco exposes Mexico’s faulty anti-drug efforts

| May 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
By Roger Noriega

Last Friday, Mexican authorities opened a new front in their anti-drug campaign by launching an offensive in the State of Jalisco against two of the country’s most profitable cartels. And, all hell broke loose. Within hours, the New Generation Cartel of Jalisco (CJNG) and Los Cuinis mobilized more than 500 men in coordinated counterattacks, shooting down a military helicopter; burning 11 banks, five gas stations, and 36 buses; and killing 15 people and injuring 20 others. The criminals also blocked 12 highways affecting the central states of Jalisco, Colima, Guanajuato, and Michoacán.

This brazen retaliation by two cartels, which had been far less aggressive than other ultraviolent groups operating in the country, represents a daunting new challenge for Mexico’s federal government. Although it will be difficult to dismantle Mexico’s richest criminal organizations, it is expected that the federal government will mobilize a significant amount of troops and resources in response to their violent defiance.

... Read More

Two border tunnels found in two days

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego

By Sandra Dibble

Two underground tunnels dug beneath the California-Mexico border have been discovered in a two-day period. The first was found Monday near Calexico across from Mexicali. The second was an incomplete passageway discovered early Tuesday in the Tijuana River Valley across from Tijuana’s Avenida Internacional.

The Mexicali-Calexico tunnel measured 230 feet in length, was about four feet high and four feet wide, and had lighting and ventilation, according to a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Border Patrol.

The passageway led from a residence in Mexicali and was discovered on Monday by members of the patrol’s Border Search Trauma and Rescue unit. The group had been searching an area near the All-American Canal after agents on Sunday had intercepted four men trying to cross the canal with 25 vacuum-sealed packages containing 69 pounds of methamphetamine worth $694,000.

Three of the ... Read More

Colombia Health Minister Wants Aerial Spraying of Coca Plants Suspended

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


BOGOTÁ—Colombia’s armed forces on Tuesday defended the use of a controversial weedkiller in the country’s U.S.-backed coca fumigation program after health officials urged it be halted, exposing rifts within the government here over how to conduct the war on drugs.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said the country’s aerial fumigation of illicitly-grown coca plants—the base for cocaine—has been an important tool in combating narco-trafficking. He said more careful study is needed before halting use of the chemical, glyphosate, in aerial spraying.

“We cannot permit losing the benefits [of spraying] on delinquency, crime and terrorism,” he said in a statement. “We will continue using all our tools that help maintain security for Colombians.”

His comments came hours after Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria called for a ban on the spraying because of health concerns. He presented a recommendation to the country’s justice ministry calling for halt in the flyover fumigation program, pointing to findings in a recent ... Read More

Something Is Rotten in the State of Venezuela

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


Diosdado Cabello is the second most powerful man in Venezuela after President Nicolás Maduro. Nominally, he is the head of the country’s single-chamber legislative body, the National Assembly, but his influence extends throughout the armed forces and the judiciary. As a result, he has been called the Frank Underwood of Venezuelan politics. But if we are to believe the words of his former bodyguard, Cabello is more like Venezuela’s Pablo Escobar. According to the bodyguard’s testimony — compiled in “Bumerán Chávez,” a bombshell new book by Spanish journalist Emili Blasco— Cabello is the country’s drug kingpin. (In the photo, Cabello and President Maduro attend a military parade to commemorate the revolution.)

The book also contains a number of other allegations from formerly high-ranking chavistas, including links between the Venezuelan government and Hezbollah and shocking details about how the ruling party manipulates the country’s elections to its advantage.

According to the book, the Venezuelan state has become indistinguishable from ... Read More

Mexico Seized Enough Illegal Weapons to Arm Navy, Police

| April 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By Arturo Angel

The number of firearms seized from criminal groups over the past ten years — an average of 40 a day — could equip a force equivalent to Mexico‘s Navy and Federal Police put together; while the amount of seized cartridges would allow each weapon to fire at least 105 rounds.

Over the past decade, the Army has seized almost 13,000 grenades and 150,000 firearms, including assault weapons meant for use in warfare. This is despite the fact that conventional arms sales are illegal in Mexico, and — at least on paper — the country has been living in times of “peace” for at least half a century.

The seizures were part of the Army’s permanent campaign against organized crime, and while there have been cases of large arsenals discovered in warehouses or secret hideouts, many weapons have also been taken from cars, people, or violent crime scenes.

Last ... Read More

Colombia Leader Lashes Back at Critics of His Peace Effort

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


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


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


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

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