Posts Tagged ‘Narco-trafficking’

Farc rebels accused of committing horrific crimes ‘with impunity’

| July 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Andres Schipani in Bogotá

Last year, two teenage girls and a young woman vanished in an area dominated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc) – the Marxist rebel group locked in peace talks with the government to end halt a century of insurgency.

The guerrillas killed all three and refused to hand over their bodies or disclose their whereabouts, according to the victims’ families.

“I always feel sick, really sick. I cannot sleep, thinking about whether it’s true that they raped her, that they tied her up, and that they killed other people in front of her,” said a relative of one of the girls. “Could it be true that they did all this, without me being able to do anything? I want them to return her to me, or to know the truth.”

Human Rights Watch says the guerrillas are committing such abuses “with impunity” ... Read More

Colombia president says ‘demented’ FARC attacks could end peace talks

| July 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos warned on Tuesday that continuing attacks perpetrated by leftist FARC guerrillas, many of which target infrastructure, could bring an end to peace negotiations with the government.

The threat was made weeks after Santos’ successful re-election campaign, which made much of agreements he had reached with the rebels on more than half the agenda for peace talks that he initiated in late 2012 to end a half-century of war.

“What we are saying to them is, keep this up and you are playing with fire and this (peace) process can end,” Santos said at an industrial event.

He referred to infrastructure attacks, including a major one this week on an electricity pylon that cut power to Buenaventura, with more than a quarter of a million people the largest city on Colombia’s Pacific coast .

“It’s something demented … They are ... Read More

Dozing U.S. Diplomats Let Venezuelan Narco-General Slip Away

| July 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA

Although a retired Venezuelan general and confidante of President Nicolás Maduro just managed to evade U.S. extradition to face drug smuggling charges, the unsealed indictment in his case reveals that U.S. prosecutors have gathered compelling evidence of widespread criminality at the highest levels of the Maduro government. Dozing U.S. diplomats let Major General Hugo Carvajal slip away this past weekend, but the fact that Caracas pulled out the stops to keep him from facing U.S. justice has exposed a regime with a very guilty conscience.

U.S. diplomats were caught off-guard on Sunday when the Netherlands decided to recognize the dubious claims of “diplomatic immunity” by Carvajal, who was being held in Aruba since his arrest last Wednesday at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities. In court proceedings last Friday, Aruban authorities dismissed Carvajal’s claims of immunity, arguing that he had never been accredited as Venezuela’s consul general ... Read More

Aruba faced potentially ‘severe’ economic pressure over Venezuelan general

| July 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Venezuela threatened to extend a flight boycott and sink Aruba’s tourism industry as it fought for the release of a former general who is wanted in the U.S. on drug charges, a State Department official said.

BOGOTA – As tensions rose in Aruba over the fate of a Venezuelan general wanted in Miami on drug charges, the island nation was worried that Venezuela was prepared to cut off air traffic for an extended period and sink its tourism industry, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

Former Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal went home Sunday after being detained four days in Aruba at the request of U.S. authorities. While an Aruban judge ruled that he could be held pending a U.S. extradition request, the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Sunday said Carvajal had diplomatic immunity, declared him “persona non grata” and sent him back to ... Read More

Netherlands Says Venezuelan Detained in Aruba Has Immunity

| July 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By JUAN FORERO And DAN MOLINSKI CARACAS—Authorities in Aruba on Sunday freed a powerful former Venezuelan general, wanted by the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges, from jail on the Caribbean island after a ruling that he is protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity.

Hugo Carvajal, who had headed the Venezuelan military-intelligence service and had been named consul general in Aruba, was escorted to the airport and flew to Venezuela on Sunday night.

His release comes four days after Aruban authorities had detained him at the airport on an American warrant, generating angry accusations from Venezuela’s government that Mr. Carvajal had been “kidnapped” and warnings that tiny Aruba would suffer economic consequences for cooperating with the U.S.

“We were ready to do whatever it took to defend the dignity and honor of Venezuela,” President Nicolás Maduro said Sunday night, hailing Mr. Carvajal’s release as a diplomatic victory for the South American country.

“We rescued him through the political, diplomatic operation ... Read More

Unmasking the Venezuelan ‘narcostate’: The Case of Hugo Carvajal

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

[Ed. Note: This week, retired Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal was detained in Aruba at the request of U.S. authorities.  Carvajal was the former head of Venezuelan military intelligence (DGIM) and a close confidante of the late Hugo Chávez. In 2008, he was designated by U.S Treasury as a “drug kingpin” for his ties to the Colombian narco-terrorist FARC.  That year also, the highly respected Colombian magazine Semana published an exposé of Carvajal that reported on his criminal associations with the FARC. The following article was translated by IASW.]

Hugo Carvajal: Hugo Chávez’s “Montesinos”

Semana Reveals the Scandalous Ties between Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal, the FARC, and Drug Traffickers

Semana magazine (Bogotá)

February 2, 2008

There are very few people who have the luxury of having Hugo Chávez’s ear. Of that select group, one of the closest, most loyal, and who Chavez trusts the most is General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios: the brains of Venezuelan intelligence.

The ... Read More

Retired Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal Detained on U.S. Petition

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

U.S. Alleges Carvajal Has Ties to Drug Trafficking, Colombian Marxist Rebels

By Kejal Vyas

CARACAS, Venezuela—A former chief of Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, accused by the U.S. of having ties to drug trafficking and Colombian Marxist rebels, was detained in Aruba on a petition from the American government, officials in the Caribbean island and the U.S. confirmed Thursday.

The detention of Hugo Carvajal, a retired military general who was awaiting confirmation as President Nicolás Maduro’s consul general to Aruba, is among the highest-profile arrests of a Venezuelan citizen in a cocaine trafficking case.

In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department had put him on a blacklist, which prohibits any American entity from doing business with him, alleging that he had protected the drug shipments of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and also provided the rebel group with weapons and logistical help.

Mr. Carvajal, who was detained Wednesday night on a provisional arrest request ... Read More

Does a caged chavista sing the blues?

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

By Juan Cristobal Nagel| Caracas Chronicles

A few months ago, Nicolás Maduro appointed former general Hugo Carvajal to be Consul General of Venezuela to the Dutch island of Aruba. Yesterday, as Carvajal laid low in the island waiting for the Dutch government to approve his position, he was detained. The US had asked the Netherlands to incarcerate and extradite him.

Carvajal was head of Venezuela’s military intelligence (DGIM) for years. A high-ranking chavista military if there ever was one, he was a close confidant of Hugo Chávez, and is suspected of aiding and abetting Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Ironically, among other posts he also headed the National Office against Organized Crime.

This 2008 story on Carvajal by the Colombian magazine Semana (in Spanish) is well worth a read. The story includes everything: torture, drug smuggling, coordination with the guerrillas. Una joyita, puej. The money quote is a whopper:

Although all of the aforementioned events leave serious doubts as to General Carvajal’s actions, perhaps the most serious of them all ... Read More

Cómo Se Dice, “Lost in Translation”?

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

On immigration, drugs, and virtually every other pressing policy issue, why can’t the United States and Mexico stop talking past each other?

BY CARLOS PUIG

By now, the number is well known: From October 2013 to June 15 of this year, 52,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers were caught at the American border with Mexico, twice the number for the same period in the previous year. Responding to the influx of young migrants and the public outcry they’ve provoked, President Barack Obama has asked Congress to provide nearly $4 billion to establish new detention facilities, increase aerial surveillance capacity, and hire more immigration judges to speed up the processing of the detained. The proposal has been met with skepticism, not only from Obama’s political opponents, but also from immigration activists who argue that it is yet another example of the U.S. effort to stem the flow of migrants withoutaddressing systemic problems in Central America — gang violence, weak rule ... Read More

Peru Looks to Restart Aerial Interdiction Program, Antidrug Chief Says

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

By RYAN DUBE

LIMA, Peru—Peru’s antidrug chief says the government is working on restarting an aerial interdiction program that was abandoned over a decade ago when an air force fighter accidentally shot down a civilian aircraft, killing two American citizens.

The move comes as Peru, the world’s top exporter of cocaine, is ratcheting up its war on drug traffickers. Peru significantly decreased the area used to grow coca last year through the forced manual removal of crops by teams of government workers, but has struggled to stop drug-laden planes in its top cocaine-producing region.

Luis Alberto Otárola, the head of Peru’s antidrug agency, the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs, or Devida, says the government is in the process of acquiring radars to track small airplanes that currently enter Peru undetected from countries like Bolivia to smuggle cocaine to markets in Brazil, Argentina and Europe.

“There should be aerial interdiction, as an issue ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By FRANCES ROBLES

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Anthony O. Castellanos disappeared from his gang-ridden neighborhood on the eastern edge of Honduras’s most dangerous city, so his younger brother, Kenneth, hopped on his green bicycle to search for him, starting his hunt at a notorious gang hangout known as the “crazy house.”

They were found within days of each other, both dead. Anthony, 13, and a friend had been shot in the head; Kenneth, 7, had been tortured and beaten with sticks and rocks. They were among seven children murdered in the La Pradera neighborhood of San Pedro Sula in April alone, part of a surge in gang violence that is claiming younger and younger victims.

“The first thing we can think of is to send our children to the United States,” said a mother of two in La Pradera, who declined to give ... Read More

Mess in Venezuela calls for decisive U.S. action

| July 1st, 2014 | No Comments »

BY ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN AND MARIO DIAZ-BALART

Over the past several months, Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro’s use of the military andcolectivos, guided by the Castro regime’s instruction in thuggery and intimidation, has violently oppressed dissenters through mass detentions, systematic torture and deaths.

Human Rights Watch released a report on May 5, Punished for Protesting, that detailed egregious human-rights violations, including arbitrary detentions, the use of unlawful force, torture, abuses in detention facilities, targeting of journalists and dismantling of independent media and state collusion with pro-Maduro gangs.

The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly supports tough action against Maduro’s oppression. We are the authors of H.R. 4587, the Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, which would impose tough sanctions against those involved in human-rights abuses and supports strengthening democratic institutions in Venezuela.

Yet the Obama administration continues to wrangle with Congress over even the most noncontroversial sanctions, such as denying visas to Venezuelan human-rights abusers. President Obama’s response has been ... Read More

Salvadorian Puppet Master

| July 1st, 2014 | No Comments »
Ozy

BY JAMES BARGENT

The most powerful man in El Salvador is a shadow.

“Comandante Ramiro” was nowhere in the official photos of the June 1 inauguration of El Salvador’s new president, nor did his name appear in any news reports.

“Ramiro” is the nom de guerre of José Luis Merino, a Marxist guerrilla commander turned political mandarin and underworld fixer with the ear of the president and unaccountable control over hundreds of millions of Venezuelan petro-dollars.

Diplomats describe Merino as a ‘shadowy [Marxist] hardliner strongman,’ while political rivals say he’s a ‘gangster.’

That combination makes him kingmaker in San Salvador, and that’s got many people worried. Merino has a web of murky contacts throughout the region, making him the link between corrupt government officials and the Latin American underworld, with the potential to undermine the democratic process in a Central American country with a troubled past.

“It’s one more element that is able to carry out criminal activities under state ... Read More

Why isn’t Mexico’s security strategy working?

| June 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER F. NORIEGA AND FELIPE TRIGOS

Key Points:

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto must recognize that security is not a distraction from his economic agenda and that confronting criminal enterprises is indispensable to the nation’s stability and prosperity. Peña Nieto has not implemented an effective security strategy, and his response to drug violence is uncalibrated and improvised. Mexico should respond more effectively to innovative, globalized cartels and be more receptive to US collaboration so that it can counter criminality fueled by US demand for illicit drugs.

President Enrique Peña Nieto came to power in Mexico 18 months ago promising to reform Mexico’s economy to make it more competitive and prosperous. He also stressed the need to change the controversial antidrug strategy pursued by his predecessor, Felipe Calderón.

Although Peña Nieto has made considerable progress on an ambitious economic agenda thus far, he has been slow to articulate, let alone implement, an alternative strategy for dealing ... Read More

Mexico drug kingpin Juan José ‘el Azul’ Esparragoza believed to have died

| June 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

BY JO TUCKMAN

Juan José Esparragoza, one of the architects of Mexico‘s global drug trafficking empire – and a key figure in the Sinaloa cartel – has reportedly died of a heart attack at 65.

The investigative weekly Río Doce, based in the northern state of Sinaloa,reported the death late on Sunday on its website, citing anonymous police sources and people close to the family of the trafficker known as “el Azul”, or the Blue One.

Radio Formula reported on Monday that the attorney general’s Office had started an investigation into “rumours” of El Azul’s death. The FBI’s website retained the crime boss on its most wanted list, alongside a five million dollar reward for information leading to his capture.

The death of Esparragoza would be the second blow to the Sinaloa cartel this year, following the February arrest of its most famous kingpin, Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán. It would leave Ismael “el Mayo” Zambada, as the only ... Read More

Peru Steps Up Cocaine Production Crackdown

| June 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

Interior Minister Outlines Increased Efforts

By ROBERT KOZAK

LIMA, Peru—Police have sharply increased the amount of cocaine and cocaine paste seized this year as part of a wider crackdown on narcotics production in Peru.

Interior Minister Walter Alban said in a meeting with the foreign press that Peru has seized 5.3 tons of cocaine paste and 4.7 tons of processed cocaine in the first six months of this year, up 27% compared with the first half of last year.

Peru is the world’s largest exporter of cocaine, Peru’s antidrug agency has said. Colombia and Bolivia are also large scale producers of coca leaf, used to make cocaine.

In one highly-publicized case on Friday, police said they had broken up a ring of smugglers who switched ordinary suitcases that had already cleared security at Peru’s main airport for suitcases full of cocaine that were set to be placed inside an airplane destined for Mexico.

Police detained a number ... Read More

Peru Drug Police Break up Cocaine Ring at Airport

| June 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By FRANKLIN BRICENO Associated Press

Peru’s counter-narcotics police broke up a ring that shipped cocaine from Lima’s international airport to Mexico on commercial flights by swapping out unsuspecting passengers’ luggage with identical suitcases, their commander announced Thursday.

The passengers’ real bags would be put on later flights.

The arrest of eight employees at airport services companies through Wednesday followed the April and May detention of five police officers assigned to the airport, also for alleged cocaine smuggling.

Gen. Vicente Romero told reporters that the latest arrests arose from a tip from Mexican police that led to the discovery last month of a suitcase holding 24 kilos (50 pounds) of cocaine on a LAN flight.

The suspects worked for three different concessionaires at Jorge Chavez airport, including Transber SAC, which loads cargo on planes.

Romero said authorities don’t know how long the suitcase-switching ring operated. But he said one suspect had ... Read More

Mexico’s vigilante movement has a strong U.S. connection

| June 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

BY TRACY WILKINSON, HECTOR BECERRA

Sporting a semiautomatic assault rifle and a “213″ area code tattoo, Cuauhtemoc Espejo boarded the passenger bus and checked riders’ IDs.

Espejo, who returned to Mexico’s Tierra Caliente from California’s Central Valley a few years ago, is a member of one of the vigilante bands that in recent months took over large parts of Michoacan state dominated for nearly a decade by drug and extortion cartels.

“There is a lot of fear, uncertainty now,” Espejo said as he made sure nobody from the notorious Knights Templar gang was on the bus.

Many of the vigilantes, like Espejo, are returnees from California, where they worked in farm fields and factories before being deported or coming back voluntarily to protect their long-suffering families here.

Some say a key lesson they learned in the U.S. was that rampant extortion and the kind of brutality that the Knights Templar were spawning should not be permitted — ... Read More

Peru Postpones Coca Crop Destruction

| June 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
From Time

BY FRANKLIN BRICENO

(LIMA, Peru) — Peru’s president says he is indefinitely postponing plans to forcibly eradicate coca fields in the world’s top cocaine-producing valley.

President Ollanta Humala’s announcement in a televised interview Sunday night came a week after he fired his drug czar, Carmen Masias.

She had announced in January that a militarized eradication effort — half-funded by the United States — would begin this year in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantauro river valley.

Critics said that strategy would only help drug-funded Shining Path rebels based in the region turn its coca-growers against authorities, with violent results. Coca is the remote valley’s lone cash crop and growers have already mounted protests and threatened resistance.

Humala said that while he is not ruling out forced eradication in the valley, he wants to first try crop substitution, led by the Agriculture Ministry.

An estimated 12,000 families live off coca in the valley, where authorities say more than ... Read More

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