heroin

Sentencing in Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection

Posted on December 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

MexicoThe sentencing last month in a case related to the Sinaloa Cartel's Chicago connection provided further fodder for the increasingly plausible conspiracy theory that the DEA protected Mexico's biggest criminal machine. Federal Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced Alfredo Vázquez Hernández, who had been extradited after serving a sentence in Mexico, to 22 years in prison for shipping 276 kilograms of cocaine to Chicago hidden in railway cars. Federal  prosecutors said Vazquez was a top-ranking operative of the Sinaloa synidcate, who arranged airplanes, submarines, trains and trucks to move cocaine from Colombia to Chicago via Mexico. Vazquez was characterized as a lifelong friend of the cartel's now-imprisoned top kingpin "Shorty" Guzmán. Judge Castillo said this hadn't been proved, but stated:  “Given the amount, it’s nonsensical to think this was this defendant’s inaugural voyage into cocaine trafficking."

Fortune magazine ranks top five global cartels

Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Shadow WatchWell, this is really cute. With refreshing honesty, Fortune magazine on Sept. 14 issued a list of the "Fortune 5"—the biggest organized crime groups in the world, ranked by their annual revenue estimates. No sources are given, but the Fortune editors presumably relied on international law enforcement intelligence. The results are slightly surprising for those of us who grew up in the era of the Sicilian Mafia and Medellín Cartel. Brave new crime machines have long since eclipsed these entities from the global stage, and far outstripped their earnings from human trafficking, extortion, credit card fraud, prostitution and (above all) drug smuggling. In the number one slot, by a mile, is Yamaguchi Gumi, a wing of Japan's Yakuza, with revenue estimated at $80 billion. A distant second is Russian mafia group Solntsevskaya Bratva, with revenue at $8.5 billion. Three and four are two Italian outfits that have long superceded Sicily's Cosa Nostra: the Camorra, based in Naples, with revenues of $4.9 billion; and the 'Ndrangheta, based in Calabria, with revenues of $4.5 billion. Number five is Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, with revenues of $3 billion.

Burma burns opium, but UN sees hype

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

South East AsiaTo mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26, Burmese authorities held drug-burning ceremonies, boasting the destruction of seized opium, heroin and methamphetamine said to be worth a combined $130 million. The mass burnings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi were attended by officials from the DEA as well as from Chinese drug enforcement agencies. But UN officials meanwhile warned that illicit drug production in Burma continued to rise—mostly to supply a growing Asian market. Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, told The Irrawady website that Burmese opium production was "in 2006, at the lowest point, representing roughly 7% of the global production; it is now 18%. So it has increased year on year." As usual, the bulk of the opium was produced in Shan and Kachin states, where tribal armies have long used the opium trade to finance their insurgencies. But Douglas, speaking at a Rangoon press conference announcing release of the UNODC's new World Drug Report, also said Shan state has become a major transshipment point for methamphetamine—seizures of which in Southeast Asia are at the "highest levels ever recorded." 

Calabria connection broken in NYC-Italy cocaine sting?

Posted on February 11th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

ItalyA 15-count indictment was unsealed Feb. 11 in a Brooklyn federal court, charging seven defendants with narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and firearms offenses based on what an FBI press release calls their participation in a "transnational heroin and cocaine trafficking conspiracy involving the ‘Ndrangheta, one of Italy's most powerful organized crime syndicates." Italy's Polizia di Stato simultaneously announced the arrest of another 17 in the southern province of Reggio di Calabria by troops of the elite Central Anti-Crime Directorate. The coordinated international operation for two years monitored narco-trafficking networks between Latin America, Italy, Canada and the US. The Italian hub of the ring was identified as the port of Gioia Tauro in Reggio di Calabria. 

Vietnam sentences 30 to death in prison drug trial

Posted on February 10th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

South East AsiaA court in Vietnam's northern province of Quang Ninh sentenced 30 people to death for heroin smuggling last month, in what was called the largest such trial ever held in the country—both in terms of the number of defendants and of death sentences handed down. Dozens of others received prison terms from two years to life. In recognition of the sensitivity of the case, the trial was actually held at the provincial prison rather than a courtroom. Quang Ninh, bordering China, is a transit route between the inland opium-producing Golden Triangle and the South China Sea. (See map.)

Persian Gulf militarized —by drug war

Posted on December 9th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

Middle EastThe past year has seen a spate of dangerous brinkmanship in the Persian Gulf, with Iran and US naval forces along with those of the Gulf's oil-rich Arab mini-states playing chicken over the strategic choke-point of the Strait of Hormuz. But in addition to this show-down over a global oil outlet, the Gulf has seen escalating militarization in the guise of narcotics enforcement. Bahrain's Gulf Daily News on Nov. 26 ran a story boasting of the exploits of a 29-nation Combined Maritime Forces group, based at the petro-kingdom's sprawling US Navy base and commanded by Capt. Robert Slaven of the Royal Australian Navy. While it claims to have "considerably reduced the number of terrorist attacks in the region" over the past decade, it's most concrete gains are hashish and heroin seizures.

Albania emerges as top European cannabis hub

Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

EuropeItalian police say Albania, the impoverished Balkan country just across the Adriatic Sea, is the source for vast quantities of cannabis entering G8 and EU member Italy. In the latest major haul in July, Italian Finance Police intercepted a full metric ton of cannabis from a speedboat along the coast of southern Puglia region. Four crewmen were arrested—two Italian and two Albanian. This came one month after the Finance Police released the results of months of air reconnaissance of Albania's hinterland, undertaken in a joint operation with Albanian police—identifying 500 cannabis plantations, accounting for a combined production of 1,000 metric tons with an estimated retail value of 4.5 billion euros. Over the past 20 years since the fall of its rigidly closed Communist dictatorship, Albania has won the title of "Europe's Afghanistan" for its prodigious cannabis production.

Afghanistan: tensions with Iran over opium smuggling routes

Posted on September 2nd, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

AfghanistanThe Strategy Page reports that on Aug. 23 an anti-Iran demonstration was held in the provincial capital of western Afghanistan's Herat province. Local Afghans accused Iranian diplomats based at the local consulate of bribing officials, and operating as a "criminal gang." Somebody is certainly bribing Afghan police and border officials in the province bordering Iran; Iranian security forces have seized 214 tons of opium and heroin at the Afghan border in the last five months, and made hundreds of arrests. A western opium route linking Afghanistan to global markets through Iran appears to be opening, adding to the traditional southern route through the Khyber Pass to Pakistan and northern route through Central Asia to Russia.

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