Central America

Central America: tri-national task force against gangs

Posted on November 16th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

Central AmericaA joint security force bringing together the three nations of Central America's Northern Triangle officially began operations to fight narco-gangs and organized crime on Nov. 15. The force is made up of military, police, intelligence and border officials from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—which all face growing internal violence from criminal networks. The force was officially inaugurated at a ceremony in the Honduran border town of Ocotepeque, near the point where the three countries meet. The presidents of all three nations were in attendance.

Honduras: son of ex-prez guilty on coke charge

Posted on May 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaThe 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras has recently been in the news due to revelations that it was lubricated by then-Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Now comes the embarassing news that the son of Honduras' ex-president Porfirio Lobo has pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in a federal court in Manhattan, and faces a mandatory 10-year prison term. Fabio Lobo, 44, admitted to scheming to import a “multi-ton load” of cocaine into the US. Federal prosecutors said the younger Lobo was snared by DEA informants who went undercover as traffickers and started collecting evidence against him in 2013. They popped him in Haiti a year ago, and put him on a plane to New York. Said US Attorney Preet Bharara: "Whether you are a street-level dealer, a member of a cartel, or the son of a former foreign president, drug dealing is drug dealing. It is a serious federal crime for which you will be prosecuted."

Militarized anti-narco raids in Honduras

Posted on May 4th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Central AmericaSecurity forces in Honduras on May 4 carried out raids on suspected narco-gang safe-houses at various locations, bringing out helicopters and heavy weaponry, and placing residential neighborhoods under siege. Code-named "Tornado," the operation coordinated troops from the National Police, Military Police, the elite Inter-institutional National Security Force (FUSINA), and the Technical Criminal Invesitgation Agency (ATIC). Locations were raided in the capital Tegucigalpa as well as the crime-stricken second city of San Pedro Sula, the Caribbean port of La Ceiba, and elsewhere. In Valle de Amarateca in the central department of Francisco Morazán, security forces seized at least two assualt rifles, fragmentation grenades, police unfiorms, and unspecified quanitities of cocaine, cannabis and cash. At least 12 people were arrested in the raids, including minors. The raids were officially called to apprehend gang members wanted for assassination and extortion. (La Prensa, May 4)

El Salvador deploys new military unit against gangs

Posted on April 22nd, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaEl Salvador has deployed a new special unit to fight criminal gangs that are now said to be operating not only in the cities but in rural areas throughout the country. The 1000-strong Specialized Reaction Force is equipped with helicopters, armored cars and assault weapons. A mixed unit of 600 military troops and 400 National Police agents, it is charged with "pursuing and neutralizing" the gangs, which are said to have 70,000 members in the country. At an April 20 ceremony to unveil the new force, Vice President Oscar Ortiz said:"The moment has come to stop the scale of violence which has imposed itself in the last few years on our country and which has created so much blood and sacrifice... We are going to go after them in the countryside and in the city." He added that human rights will be respected. (BBC News, Reuters)

Empire strikes back against Belize?

Central America OK, we don't want to get too paranoid here. But last month, after years of studying the matter, the government of Belize took a big step toward cannabis decrim. On Feb. 19, the  cabinet formally handed recommendations made by the Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee, assigned to assess the matter, over to the office of the Attorney General for final review. This means introduction of a decrim bill is almost certainly imminent. Sources say the proposed legislation would allow for persons in possession of 10 grams or less to face a fine or community service. The fine is named as 15 Belizean dollars (US$7.50) per gram. The law would also be retroactive, expunging the records of those convicted in the past for possession within these limits. Former National Security Minister Doug Singh, who has pushed for a more lenient policy, said, "Too many young people have this following them, those who are seeking jobs."

Landmark cannabis case in Costa Rica

Posted on January 20th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Central AmericaCosta Rica took a step towards becoming the next Latin American country to decriminalize cannabis Jan. 19, when attorney Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar was cleared of cultivation charges on grounds of individual liberties. Cerdas Salazar was arrested in August at his home in the city of Alajuela in August, after publicly advocating for a personal right to use and cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and gastronomic purposes. He has been held since, charged with "drug trafficking." The Judicial Investigation Organism (OIJ, Costa Rica's answer to the FBI) said they found enough cannabis on the premises to make 5,000 cigarettes. The quantity was also ambiguously put at 170 "plants and leaves of plants." But the OIJ admitted they had no evidence the cannabis was intended for commercial purposes. The judge hearing the case, Carolina Leitón, found: "Yes, marijuana cultivation is illegal; nonetheless, it is not a crime if it is not utilized for sale." 

Honduras oligarchs busted for money-laundering

Posted on October 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Central AmericaThree members of the ruling elite in Honduras were charged by US authorities with money-laundering this week. Yankel Rosenthal, a former minister of investment and president of the popualr Club Deportivo Marathon soccer team, was arrested Oct. 6 upon landing at the Miami airport. His cousin Yani  Rosenthal  and uncle Jaime Rolando Rosenthal, a four-time presidential candidate and owner of El Tiempo newspaper, were also detained. Grupo Continental, owned by the Rosenthal family, is a pillar of the Honduran economy, with holdings in real estate, tourism, industry and telecommunications. US officials now say these businesses helped launder narco-profits, transfering dirty money from New York to Honduras over a period of more than 10 years. The three men provided "money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations," said the US Treasury Department in a statement. Seven of their businesses were labelled under the US Kingpin Act as "specially designated narcotics traffickers." Yankel Rosenthal, who served in President Juan Orlando Hernandez's cabinet until stepping down unexpectedly in June, has won popularity in Honduras through his largesse. Among other public works, he built a brand-new stadium in the city of San Pedro Sula, which was named after him. (El Heraldo, Oct. 8; BBC News, Oct. 7)

Narco-Imperialism Deconstructed

Posted on September 6th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

PaleyDawn Paley is one courageous journalist. Her travels through Mexico, Colombia and Central America have brought her to the frontlines of "drug war" danger and militarization, producing first-hand reportage from communities terrorized by narco-gangs, paramilitaries and "official" security forces alike. In Drug War Capitalism (AK Press, Oakland, 2015) Paley portrays these forces as constituting a single nexus of terror, thoroughly integrated into the structures of the "legal" economy.

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