Mexico essentially legalized the country’s growing “self-defense” groups Monday, while also announcing that security forces had captured one of the four top leaders of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which the vigilante groups have been fighting for the last year.
The government said it had reached an agreement with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms.
The twin announcements may help the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto find a way out of an embarrassing situation in the western state of Michoacan, where vigilantes began rising up last February against the Knights Templar reign of terror and extortion after police and troops failed to stop the abuses.
An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.
Sinaloa, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.
But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.
Mexico is in the grip of a murderous drug war that has killed over 150,000 people since 2006. It is one of the most violent countries on earth. This drug war is a product of the transnational drug trade which is worth up to $400 billion a year and accounts for about 8% of all international trade.
The American government maintains that there is no alternative but to vigorously prosecute their zero tolerance policy of arresting drug users and their dealers. This has led to the incarceration of over 500,000 Americans. Meanwhile the flood of illegal drugs into America continues unabated.
One thing the American government has not done is to prosecute the largest banks in the world for supporting the drug cartels by washing billions of dollars of their blood stained money. As Narco sphere journalist Bill Conroy has observed banks are ”where the money is” in the global drug war.
HSBC, Western Union, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase&Co, Citigroup, Wachovia amongst many others have allegedly failed to comply with American anti-money laundering (AML) laws.
The Mexican drug cartels have caught the headlines again and again due to their murderous activities. The war between the different drug cartels and the war between the cartels and government security forces has spilled the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people. The drug cartels would find it much harder to profit from their murderous activity if they didn’t have too big to fail banks willing to wash their dirty money.
Mexican authorities warned Thursday that they would not allow vigilante “self-defense” groups to take over more towns in a western state where civilians are arming themselves to combat drug gangs.
Vigilantes are now providing security in six Michoacan state towns after self-defense forces seized the municipality of Tancitaro last weekend following clashes that left three people dead.
Self-defense leaders say they next plan to take over another town, Los Reyes, with about 40,000 residents, as part of their drive to chase the Knights Templar drug cartel out of the region.
But Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam insisted that the self-defense groups “will not spread. I assure you.”
“The Mexican state will guarantee this,” he told reporters in Mexico City.
- Vigilante ranchers, fruit growers kick out brutal drug cartel in western Mexican state
- Hunger for drugs brings torture and death to Mexico City
- Mexican Drug Lord Assassinated By Killer Clowns
- Mexican Drug Cartels Love Social Media
- Drug Tunnel From Tijuana to San Diego Held Tons of Drugs
- US fines Mexican police chief $10 billion for drugs
The National Security Agency eavesdropped on hundreds of phone numbers belonging to dozens of world leaders, newly leaked documents supplied by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper wrote Thursday that a classified memo provided to them by Mr. Snowden suggests that the NSA encouraged officials within the United States government and intelligence community to share among their colleagues contact information pertaining to international heads of state.
According to the Guardian, the memo made reference to an unnamed US official who had reportedly supplied the NSA with over 200 numbers, including 35 belonging to world leaders.
“These numbers plus several others have been tasked,” or monitored, reads the memo.
The leaders themselves are not identified in the memorandum, but classified documents previously disclosed to the media by Mr. Snowden have suggested that the NSA spied on conversations involving citizens of France, Germany, Brazil and elsewhere.
- The U.S. Has Been Spying on France Since Before the NSA Existed (Foreign Policy)
- With allies like these, who needs enemies? (Guardian)
- White House on French NSA complaint: ‘all nations’ spy (AFP)
- US Won’t Say If They Tapped Merkel’s Phone (Antiwar)
- Liar Clapper: French Spy Report ‘Misleading’ (Antiwar)
- Mexico slams U.S. over claims that NSA hacked president’s email (McClatchy)
- REMINDER: U.S. Looks to Re-Up Its Mexican Surveillance System (Foreign Policy)
- EU Parliament Urges Suspending Data Deal with US (AP)
- Watchdog: NSA spied on 124.8 billion phone calls in just one month (Yahoo!)
- REMINDER: NSA Spied on Brazil Oil Company, Petrobras (FDL)
- Canada’s eavesdropping agency defends practices after Brazil spying report (CTV)
- Brazil announces secure email to counter US spying (AFP)
- Indian High Commission returns to typewriters (Telegraph)
The Mexican village of Talea de Castro has long been ignored by Mexico’s mobile phone companies as too remote to put on their networks, but as the BBC’s Will Grant reports, they have responded by building their own.
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, has a lot of customers.
In Latin America, Carlos Slim’s telecommunications giant, America Movil, has around 262 million subscribers, and in Mexico alone handles more than 70% of the country’s mobile phone users.
But the residents of the tiny coffee-producing village of Talea de Castro are not among them.
For years, the locals have asked the main networks in Mexico to install a mobile phone antenna in the village.
They kept getting the same answer: it was not worth sending an engineer into the remote mountains of Oaxaca for fewer than 10,000 customers.
During January 2011, Anabel Hernández’s extended family held a party at a favourite cafe in the north of Mexico City. The gathering was to celebrate the birthday of Anabel’s niece. As one of the country’s leading journalists who rarely allows herself time off, she was especially happy because “the entire family was there. There are so many of us that it’s extremely difficult to get everybody together in one place. It hardly ever happens.”
Anabel Hernández had to leave early, as so often, “to finish an article”, and it was after she left that gunmen burst in. “Pointing rifles at my family, walking round the room – and taking wallets from people. But this was no robbery; no one tried to use any of the credit cards – it was pure intimidation, aimed at my family, and at me.” It was more than a year before the authorities began looking for the assailants. And during that time the threats had continued: one afternoon last June, Hernández opened her front door to find decapitated animals in a box on the doorstep.
Hernández’s offence was to write a book about the drug cartels that have wrought carnage across Mexico, taking some 80,000 lives, leaving a further 20,000 unaccounted for – and forging a new form of 21st-century warfare. But there have been other books about this bloodletting; what made Los Señores del Narcodifferent was its relentless narrative linking the syndicate that has driven much of the violence – the Sinaloa cartel, the biggest criminal organisation in the world – to the leadership of the Mexican state.
Her further sin against the establishment and cartels was that the book became, and remains, a bestseller: more than 100,000 copies sold in Mexico. The success is impossible to overstate, a staggering figure for a non-fiction book in a country with indices of income and literacy incomparable to the American-European book-buying market. The wildfire interest delivers a clear message, says Hernández: “So many Mexicans do not believe the official version of this war. They do not believe the government are good guys, fighting the cartels. They know the government is lying, they don’t carry their heads in the clouds.”
Hernández’s book will be published in English this month with the titleNarcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers, so that we in the English-speaking world that consumes so much of what the cartels deal, and which banks their proceeds, might learn the lie of “cops and robbers”, of “upright society versus the mafia” – the received wisdom that still contaminates coverage of drug wars and the “war on drugs”.
- US drug agency partners with AT&T for access to ‘vast database’ of call records (Guardian)
- Mexican drug cartel activity in U.S. said to be exaggerated in widely cited federal report (Washington Post)
- Mexico’s new gov’t follows old drug war strategy (AP)
- 10 Shocking Examples of Police Killing Innocent People in the “War on Drugs” (Alternet)
- End the Drug War; Make Next Drug Czar a Doctor (Newser)
- White House Says There Will Be No Changes To Current Marijuana Laws (CNN)
- Marijuana fans cheer Tuesday’s historic Senate hearing (WTSP)
- Federal Appeals Court: Police Can’t Paralyze You To Search Your Body For Drugs (Think Progress)
- Mexico Officials Find Mass Grave East of Capital (Time)
- Ohio man finds 300 pound load of marijuana stashed in gun safe he bought on the Internet (Reuters)
A Mexican family says that a van bought at a U.S. government auction came with an unwanted extra: an undiscovered package of cocaine beneath the dashboard.
Sergio Torres Duarte, 18, and his 19-year-old friend Julio Cesar Moreno were driving to a soccer match in November when they stopped at a routine police highway checkpoint near the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan. They say they were stunned when officers discovered a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine beneath the dashboard of their blue 2004 Toyota Sienna. Eight months later, they are still in jail fighting drug trafficking charges.
Torres Duarte’s father, also named Sergio Torres, says he bought the van for $3,900 through a friend at a Customs and Border Protection auction in February 2012 in McAllen, Texas.
After his son’s arrest, Torres said this week, he began investigating and found that the van had been confiscated after U.S. customs agents had found five bundles of cocaine while inspecting the car at the international bridge in Pharr, Texas, in October 2011. Every brick of the drug had the word “Good” written with a black marker â just like the one seized by Mexican police, the father said.
U.S. officials acknowledge they might have missed part of the drug.
- Costa Rica Will Stop Sending Cocaine to Miami (Costa Rica Star)
- CIA Torture Jet wrecks with 4 Tons of cocaine (Daily Kos)
- CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: Department of Justice Review (DoJ)
- The U.S. Government Is the Biggest Drug Dealer in the World (csn.edu)
- Gary Webb’s ‘Dark Alliance’ (Narco News)
- Top Mexican Drug Lord: I Trafficked Cocaine For The U.S. Government (Paul Joseph Watson)
- Mexican Drug Cartel, US Prison Gang Plotted Merger (Newser)
- Bolivia reduces coca crop for second year: UN report (CS Monitor)
- Heroin Makes a Comeback (WSJ)
Mexican cartels are looking to recruit U.S. soldiers to carry out contract killings.
In April a leaked FBI confidential bulletin revealed that the Los Zetas cartel, which was founded by former elite Mexican troops, has been vigorously expanding its U.S. connections for years by collaborating with U.S. gangs in drug dealing and enforcement activities on both sides of the border.
But the recruitment of U.S. soldiers for the sole purpose of knocking people off is a disturbing trend, especially given how much sense it makes.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where passage is expected to make Uruguay the first country in the world to license and enforce rules for the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adult consumers.
Legislators in the ruling coalition said putting the government at the centre of a legal marijuana industry is worth trying because the global war on drugs had been a costly and bloody failure, and displacing illegal dealers through licensed marijuana sales could save money and lives.
They also hope to eliminate a legal contradiction in Uruguay, where it has been legal to use marijuana but against the law to sell it, buy it, produce it or possess even one plant.
- Mexico could legalize marijuana in five years: Former president (Reuters)
- How the war on drugs in Mexico began (Truthloader)
- On Mexico’s western front, cartel violence escalates (Washington Post)
- Mexico’s “Queen Of The Pacific” Drug Boss About To Be Released From Miami Prison (CNN)
- Leader of Mexico’s Zetas cartel captured in precision operation, with US help (Star Tribune)
- ‘Crack baby’ study ends with unexpected but clear result (Philly.com)
- Air Force Flying 24 Tons of Cocaine to Miami Because Costa Rica Can’t Destroy It On Its Own (Miami New Times)
Univision, America’s top Spanish language TV network, says it’s delivering a summer ratings beating to the big four US broadcast networks. While a month-long summer TV ratings survey shows that English-language stations had more viewers in total, the most viewers that advertisers covet most—those in the 18-34 and 18-49 age brackets—watched Univision’s Spanish-language programming.
The Mexican government said on Monday it captured the brutal leader of the Zetas drug cartel in an early-morning raid, marking the biggest victory for President Enrique Pena Nieto in his fight against gang violence.
Marines arrested Miguel Angel Trevino, aka Z-40, after intercepting his pick-up truck with a helicopter a few miles (km) from his home town of Nuevo Laredo on the U.S. border, government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said in Mexico City.
“Not a single shot was fired,” Sanchez reporters.
The Zetas have been blamed for many of the worst atrocities carried out by Mexican drug gangs, acts that have sullied the country’s name and put fear into tourists and investors alike.
Following a tide of gang-related beheadings, massacres and gunfights that have claimed more than 70,000 lives since the start of 2007, Pena Nieto said his number one priority was to restore stability when he took office in December.
Murders have fallen slightly, according to official statistics, but violent crime is still rampant in parts of Mexico and, until now, the new government had few outstanding successes to celebrate in its campaign to pacify the country.
France’s foreign minister called Monday for far-reaching collaboration with Mexico, officially burying a diplomatic squabble that roiled relations between the two nations for years.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed Mexico as a vital partner in a chaotic world in which he asserted that the United States is no longer the sole, overarching power.
“For a long time, we lived in a bipolar world. Then it became unipolar,” Fabius said, referring to the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. “France and Mexico hope for a multi-polar world with an equitable balance of power.”
But he said the reality is that the world today is “zero polar,” without a dominant power to force solutions on issues.
by Belen Fernandez
According to a Mexican news article that surfaced in May, the Israeli military will begin training the police force in Mexico’s southeastern state of Chiapas, where the predominantly indigenous Zapatista National Liberation Army is based.
Yaron Yugman, Israel’s defence ministry representative in Mexico, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, is quoted as affirming that “a country’s security is fundamental to its growth” and that human rights would be one of the focuses of military instruction.
Of course, “security” and “growth” aren’t luxuries usually intended for domestic indigenous groups. A May article in The Electronic Intifada recalls the aftermath of the 1994 Zapatista uprising, which coincided with the inauguration of the North American Free Trade Agreement:
“The Mexican government found itself needing to respond to the dictates of foreign investors, as a famously leaked Chase-Manhattan Bank memo revealed: ‘While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy’.”
As for the alleged focus on human rights, Israel’s expertise in oppressing indigenous populations and squelching dignity happens to be more marketable.
The Israeli embassy in Mexico has reportedly denied military machinations in the southeast, but not even Fox News Latino is convinced:
“The Israeli Embassy’s denial of its government working in Chiapas is puzzling, given the long history that Israel’s government has of working with Mexico. Since the early 1970s, the Mexican government has purchased airplanes, helicopters, missile boats, small arms and other weapons from either the Israeli army or Israeli military contractors.”
US allies Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile have joined other Latin American nations in demanding answers from Washington over spying allegations.
Brazilian media reported earlier this week that the US had seized web traffic and phone calls across the region.
Spying targets included oil and energy firms, Venezuela’s military purchases and information on Mexico’s drug wars.
by Matt Cantor
Amid near-constant news of the obesity epidemic, you’d be forgiven for thinking the US led the developed world when it comes to weight—but by at least one measure, you’d be wrong. Mexico actually has a higher percentage of obese adults, with 32.8% of its grown-up population meeting the description, a UN report finds. The US isn’t far behind, however, with 31.8% of adults considered obese.
In Mexico, some 70% of adults are overweight, al-Jazeera notes. Keeping fit isn’t easy for Mexican children in particular, who face both obesity and malnourishment, CNN reports. “They are exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense … foods, which tend to be lower in cost but also lower in nutrient quality,” says the World Health Organization. Amid climbing incomes and shifts to city life, Mexico is also seeing a more sedentary lifestyle among its population. Across the planet, obesity has doubled since 1980.
The U.S. National Security Agency has targeted most Latin American countries in its spying programs, with Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico ranking among those of highest priority for the U.S. intelligence agency, a leading Brazilian newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former American intelligence contractor, O Globo newspaper said the NSA programs went beyond military affairs to what it termed “commercial secrets.”
These included petroleum in Venezuela and energy in Mexico, according to a graphic O Globo identified as being from the NSA and dated February of this year.
Also swept up in what O Globo termed as U.S. spying were Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador.
by Kevin Spak
How do you get Republicans to sign onto an immigration bill? You build a danged fence—a lot of danged fence. A bipartisan group of senators has agreed to bolster the border security provisions in the Senate’s immigration reform bill, in the hopes of winning over more GOP votes, sources tell NBC News. The deal would double the size of the border patrol and mandate 700 miles of border fencing, in what the senators are terming a “border surge.”
by Evann Gastaldo
When it comes to immigration reform, the real divide lies not between Republicans and Democrats, but between elites and non-elites, writes Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review. “For the corporate echelon, creating a guest-worker program and granting amnesty—without worrying about securing the border first—ensures continued access to millions of cheap laborers from Latin America.” This isn’t fair to anyone: not the unemployed minority youths that employers pass over when handing jobs to undocumented immigrants, and not the immigrants themselves, who never have any hope of career advancement and whose health suffers from the backbreaking work they perform.
And when that happens, employers need a new influx of young, cheap laborers. They don’t even want to hire the children of undocumented immigrants, because they’re thought to be less industrious than their parents. So the cycle continues, driving down US entry-level wages, keeping the unemployment rate high, and forcing the state to subsidize the lives of undocumented immigrants and their families. “For those who profit both materially and psychologically from something that largely benefits the elite and hurts the mass, spare us the hypocritical aspersions and bottled pieties,” Hanson writes.
Billionaire And Former Mexican President Announce Plans To Open Retail Marijuana Stores Around The World ~ Q13
by CRISTINA COSTANTINI
‘”Is this person a lawful citizen of my country or an unauthorized immigrant, terrorist, spy, or smuggler?”
This is the primary question you’ll have to ask yourself if you play the new game “Papers Please,” which casts users in the role of border agent.
Lucas Pope, an American video game designer living in Japan, has been making video games of all sorts for 20 years. But his latest game comes at a time when immigration has coincidentally taken center stage in American politics.
Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and by the checkpoints separating East and West Berlin during the Cold War, the game is set in an imaginary nation called Aristotzka in 1982. The challenge is to inspect immigrant documents and spot discrepancies.’
‘One in 10 Los Angeles County residents is an immigrant living in the country illegally, according to a study released Tuesday by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.
Many of those immigrants have been in the country for more than a decade and are the parents of children who are American citizens, the study found. One in five children in Los Angeles County has at least one parent who is in the country without proper documentation.
One in four of the estimated 11 million people said to be in the United States without legal authorization lives in California. Statewide, the study estimates that about 7% of residents, or more than 2.6 million people, are in the country illegally.
by Adam Thomson
[...] All over Guerrero state, as well as in other parts of Mexico, self-defense or vigilante groups are springing up in response to the unanswered threat of criminal gangs.
Garibo says that in Tierra Colorada, the small, sun-baked town where he is keeping vigil, at least 250 people have taken up arms. The six surrounding municipalities have dozens of communities. Each community has at least two self-defense groups comprising 12 men each, he says.
That Guerrero should be the focus of the latest phase of Mexico’s drugs-based security problem is hardly surprising. The mountainous state that hugs the country’s Pacific coast has for decades been a center of marijuana and heroin production. More recently, the region has seen mass kidnappings, murders and even beheadings as rival drug gangs fight for control of lucrative international smuggling routes.
But the appearance of the groups is a reminder that for all the investors’ euphoria surrounding the new administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s drug war — and the violence it spawns — is still very much alive.
by John Daly
[...] China’s apparent if unstated strategy to deal with this threat [US-NATO expansion strategy] is very different from the USSR, which sought to match Washington bomber for bomber, missile for missile, submarine for submarine, effectively running the country’s economy into the ground.
No, China has proved a much more cunning enemy, drawing on its vast history and its premier military strategist, Sun Tzu, who wrote in his seminal work, “The Art of War” more than two millennia ago, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
China’s secret weapon?
“You’re not going to get the job if you’ve murdered someone,” said Barry Cushman, president of the American Polygraph Association. It might be an obvious point, but a new report shows more US Border Protection applicants may want to heed the advice.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)’s investigation, records of more than 200 polygraphs reveal a perplexing and often shocking number of admissions made by candidates vying for a spot with the US Customs and Border Protection. The polygraph exam, which is the last phase of the agency’s hiring process, was instituted in 2008. Since that time over 15,000 individuals have taken it – and 60 per cent have failed.
As the report highlights, it is difficult to know what portion of the more than 60,000 employees of the bureau may have slipped through the polygraph exam, either by somehow beating the test or by avoiding it prior to 2008. Regardless, a recent Government Accountability Office report showed that misconduct among current employees is on the rise, registering a 62 per cent jump from 2006 to 2011.
According to Customs, all border enforcement applicants consent to allowing any admissions made during the polygraph test to be shared with other law enforcement agencies – and that is exactly what has happened during some of the more shocking cases.
Last year, for example 22-year-old applicant Cody Slaughter of Arizona admitted to his examiner that he had sexually assaulted a two-year-old, and engaged in multiple acts of bestiality. Slaughter was subsequently arrested for suspicion of sexual contact with a minor, as well as three counts of bestiality.
Other admissions during the polygraph phase have included everything from flagrant drug smuggling cases, to human smuggling to having been involved in a deadly car crash.
And the confessions only get weirder.