by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced." — Albert Einstein
The legacy of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was captured in a new documentary that premiered at the South by Southwest festival over the weekend. The modern-day Public Enemy Number One emerged from over a decade in hiding at his climactic arrest two weeks ago.
The film, Legend of Shorty, a collaboration between filmmaker Angus MacQueen and Peruvian journalist Guillermo Galdos, follows MacQueen and Galdos on their journey in search of Chapo. According to Guardian film critic Henry Barnes, the pair demonstrated “extraordinary access to the cartel” as they explored Mexico’s Golden Triangle, where they witnessed “batch loads of cocaine, meth and marijuana being prepared for transport” and “surreal meetings with Chapo’s inner circle, including a lunch date with his mum.”
The last line of the film is Galdos saying, “They got to him before he agreed to give us an interview.” The world’s biggest drug dealer was captured by authorities before the pair could sit down with him.
After over a decade of hiding, the notorious leader of the Sinaloa cartel — the biggest cartel in history, an operation responsible for trafficking an estimated 25% of the illegal drugs that enter the U.S. — was finally put behind bars in February.
Like everything else about him, the details about Chapo’s capture are pretty outlandish. The notorious drug pin, who has been ranked one of the most powerful people in the world by Forbes, has been living it up while Mexican authorities and the DEA were busting their buns trying to find him since he escaped from a high security prison in 2001.
He was captured at Mazatlán, a beach resort outside of Sinaloa, where authorities discovered he had spent his massive drug fortune on 16 houses, 43 vehicles, and four ranches. He was also packing major (and pricey) heat — with 97 long arms (like rifles and such), 36 handguns, two grenade launchers and a rocket launcher.
How did one of the world’s most wanted people manage to evade authorities for over a decade, despite living in such extravagant means? Tunnels — burrowed between seven of his houses, with steel doors connected to the shower of each of the homes. The first photo above shows one of these secret entrances to the tunnels.
Check out this video of a CNN reporter walking through Chapo’s underground tunnels
Watch a clip from Legend of Shorty
Mexican high school student Cruz Marcelino Velázquez Acevedo, 16, died from drinking highly concentrated liquid methamphetamine at a San Diego border crossing as he tried to persuade inspectors that it was only apple juice, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday.
The teen, described as “an average student” with “no discipline problems” by his principal at Cobach Siglo XXI, had been carrying a shoulder bag with two small bottles of the amber-colored liquid meth as he walked alone into the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing area from Mexico on Nov. 18. The bottles initially went undetected, but when he was asked about them a second time while in custody about visa issues, he took “a big sip” in an attempt to prove the liquid wasn’t meth. Shortly after, he began screaming in pain about “the chemicals,” yelling in Spanish, “My heart! My heart!” He died hours later at a hospital from acute meth intoxication.
Children are caught with meth several times a week at San Diego crossings, an “alarming increase” according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative. They are typically paid $50 to $200 a trip. To avoid detection, meth is dissolved in water and disguised in juice bottles, windshield wiper fluid containers, and gas tanks. It is later converted back to crystals.
This trend coincides with the increasing supply of Mexican meth in the U.S. San Ysidro, the port of entry Acevedo was passing through, is the nation’s busiest border crossing and has emerged as a major corridor for smuggling meth in the past five years as Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has increased its presence in the area. The cartel dominates the Asia-Pacific-Mexico-U.S. meth trade, controlling 80% of the market, according to a Mexican security report released in April. Their estimated revenue from meth sales is about $3 billion a year.
Hundreds of Pounds of Marijuana Fall From Sky Over San Diego
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized more than 260 pounds of marijuana (estimated street value $157,000) in a field near Brown Field Airport in San Diego, less than two miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The marijuana, bundled and tied to a metal cage, was being delivered to a drop location north of the airport by an ultra-light aircraft which had flown over the border from Mexico, around 4:15 a.m. Monday. CBP’s Office of Air and Marine (OAM) spotted and tracked the plane as it crossed into the U.S. and returned to Mexico without landing. Two suspects have been taken into custody.
Mexican Drug Cartel Selfies Show the Pouty Side of Crime
The drug war was bizarre and unsettling enough before we found out about these cartel selfies from “Broly Banderas,” who is allegedly a member of the Caballeros Templarios, or “Knights Templar” cartel. Apparently the Knights Templar love their social media and are as self-obsessed as the rest of us…except with more drugs and gory violence.
this former microsoft manager plans to launch the world’s first global marijuana brand:
Budding marijuana mogul Jamen Shively is building the nation’s first retail brand of marijuana, he announced at a Seattle press conference on Thursday, alongside former Mexican president Vicente Fox. The 45-year-old former corporate strategy manager at Microsoft has been developing a chain of retail stores, already dubbed “the Starbucks of pot." "It’s a giant market in search of a brand," he said of the world-wide marijuana industry (estimated at $142 billion). “We would be happy if we get 40 percent of it worldwide.” The self-proclaimed “amateur evangelist of cannabis” said he has only recently “fallen in love” with pot after smoking it for the first time 18 months ago. Since then, he has been purchasing marijuana dispensaries in Washington and Colorado, where recreational pot was legalized last November. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a unique moment in history,” Shively said Thursday. “The Berlin Wall of the prohibition of cannabis is weak, and it is crumbling as we speak.” The brand will be called ”Diego Pellicer" after Shively’s great-grandfather, who he claims was a major hemp grower. All that remains is the cash. Shively is currently seeking investors for the estimated $10 million needed to launch the company—but he seems optimistic. "Let’s go big or go home," he said. "We’re going to mint more millionaires than Microsoft with this business."
As far as legal issues, Shively said he’s not concerned about the federal government cracking down—all his dispensaries comply with local and state law, and his business will be transparent. "If [the feds] want to come talk to me, I’ll be delighted to meet with them," he said. "I’ll tell them everything that we’re doing and show them all our books." He plans to launch the brand both domestically and internationally, and said he and Fox "intend to pursue" the possibility of a marijuana trade between Mexico and the US. The former Mexican president, who has advocated for legalization of all drugs, called Shively’s vision a “game changer.” Fox has been vocal in his opposition to the aggressive drug war tactics in Mexico, and added that he was glad to be working alongside Shively, instead of notorious Mexican drug lord, Chapo Guzman. ”It’s time for a new start, a new vision,” he said, ”That’s why I applaud this group.”
A new game app challenges you to “end the never-ending war.” It was designed to get people thinking about how hard it is to stop the drug trade.
In Narco Guerra, you are asked to act as Mexico’s Police Chief. You get money, weapons, and troops, and must decide how to deploy these limited resources around Mexico, as you try to rid different parts of the country of cartel activity. Certain actions, like taking down a cartel leader in one area of Mexico, also generate reactions like the emergence of new cartels. This gives users an idea of what the real drug war is like.
"The War on Drugs has been going on for more than 40 years now, and we wanted to explore why that is," said Tomas Rawlings, the game’s developer.
Check out the game’s trailer above.
May 4, 2012: Nine bodies were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just across the border from Laredo, Texas. Police could not confirm who was responsible for the murders but a message seen with the bodies indicated it may have been an attack by the Zetas cartel against the rival Gulf cartel.
The Houston Chronicle is carrying a story with startling revelations of drug gang brutality in Mexico. Among other things, it reports of kidnapping young men and forcing them to engage in contests to the death in order to find and recruit killers. This made me wonder what kinds of things deter people from behaving like this, and what kinds of conditions produce this kind of behavior.
1. The state forbids something, like drugs.
2. Production MUST therefore be illegal, and production will occur because the demand doesn’t disappear when the drug is made illegal.
3. Going illegal is a necessary condition for all those who are willing to produce and supply the drug. The profit motive remains, even heightens, and so there will always be people who will go illegal.
4. The people attracted into the illegal business are going to be the people who already have the least inhibitions about doing anything immoral and illegal. They are the ones most willing to take risks.
5. Competition is all within illegality. This means that moral rules that govern peaceful competition do not prevail among the suppliers. They therefore select among any actions and rules that bring them survival, profits, and growth. The most effective means of gaining market share and preventing the incursion of rivals within a situation of illegal rivalry will include a reputation and readiness to kill and maim so as to enforce one’s will.
6. The means include corrupting law enforcement. This is virtually a necessity and always occurs in these conditions. The results include gang warfare. It also includes uneasy peace among gangs and division into territories and fiefdoms.
7. The competition need not lead to the practices mentioned in this article whose aim is to find and groom the most merciless killers. Yet it probably happened in the 1920s gangs that this mode of competition also prevailed as the many stories of Capone suggest. Most gangster movies also depict that the more brutal gangsters rise to the top.
I don’t claim that this is a complete explanation of what’s going on, but I did want to make the point that what’s going on in Mexico is not a random thing and not a peculiarly Mexican thing. These things often have rational explanations. It’s akin to terrorism and assassination and other forms of violence in that respect. There are often reasons that we can find that explain it even if the behavior is awful.
The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.
But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life - without parole.
Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses - men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.
Firefighters remove the body of a man hanging from a bridge in Ciudad Juarez, on March 3, 2012. The body was found hanging from its neck on a bridge late Saturday, local media reported. The body showed signs of torture and the head was covered with duct tape. (Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez)
Locals look at the screening of names of 10,000 victims of violence in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, on the facade of Annunciation House, a shelter for immigrants and indigent people in the US city of El Paso on April 23, 2012. Annunciation House organized a mournful tribute called Voice of the Voiceless in which more than 10,000 names were screened on the facade of the building.
The DEA in Afghanistan
WikiLeaks Highlights Drug War Mission Creep | Antiwar.com (January 2011)
According to The New York Times, which has access to a cache of DEA-related State Department cables, the DEA now has 87 offices in 63 countries – pretty much double the number of countries from 20 years ago, before 9/11. Today, the Global War on Terror has infused the drug interdiction agency with an expanded mission as a paramilitary and intelligence-gathering agency on par with the CIA and U.S. Special Forces overseas.
[…] Welcome to Drug Hunters International, which, for all of the $2.1 billion in taxpayer funding the agency gets in a year, has accomplished very little by way of the metrics: the illegal drug industry is considered as lucrative and even more dangerous than ever, particularly in neighboring Mexico, while the situation in Afghanistan – counter-terror and counter-narcotic alike – is on a widely accepted downward trajectory.
[…] Of course, that the U.S. has set up secret wiretapping programs with the aid of foreign governments all over the world, particularly in South America, where it has been operating heavily for years, is no surprise. The New York Times was perfectly right when it said the cables “do not offer large disclosures.” But they paint an interesting portrait of classic mission creep, of a bureaucracy constantly reinventing and recalibrating itself to maintain its significance in the annual budget; and most importantly, how the war on terror has been used to advance those goals for the DEA. By no means is it the only agency doing it, but it is certainly the most obvious.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, President Obama, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper - “The Three Amigos” - at the North American Leaders’ Summit on Monday.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon again called on Congress to renew a ban on assault weapons.
“The expiry of the assault-weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest period of violence we’ve ever seen,” Mr. Calderon said. “We have seized over 140,000 weapons in four years — and the vast majority of these weapons were sold in gun shops in the United States. Along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, there are approximately 8,000 weapons shops.”
The Mexican president spoke at length during a Rose Garden news conference about what is an uncomfortable subject for Mr. Obama, whose administration is under investigation by Congress over the notorious “Fast and Furious” program.
Organized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and overseen by the Department of Justice, the program sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers, or people who legally purchase guns in the United States with the intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico have been killed with weapons provided by Fast and Furious, and at least one killing in the U.S., the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, has been blamed on the program.
Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Calderon mentioned Fast and Furious in public Monday. Mr. Obama said stopping the flow of illegal guns into Mexico is a “difficult task.”
“We’ve actually put into practice efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking north to south,” Mr. Obama said. “We will continue to coordinate closely with the Mexican government because we recognize the toll that it’s taken with respect to families and innocent individuals inside of Mexico.”
Mr. Calderon said he appreciated the “administrative effort” being undertaken by the Obama administration to stop gun trafficking.
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