quote:Mexico captures alleged Zetas gang founder 'El Mamito'
Jesus Rejon Aguilar, a Mexican army deserter, was wanted in the slaying of U.S. federal agent Jaime Zapata. Officials say he helped create the brutal paramilitary Zetas gang.
By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
July 5, 2011
Reporting from Mexico City— Mexican officials on Monday announced the capture of one of the country's most wanted fugitives, an army deserter who authorities say helped create the vicious Zetas gang and is suspected in the slaying of a U.S. federal agent.
Mexican federal police paraded Jesus Rejon Aguilar before reporters early Monday, a day after he was caught — not in the Zetas stronghold of northeastern Mexico but barely an hour outside Mexico City.
quote:Mexico: 34,612 Drug War Deaths; 15,273 In 2010
MEXICO CITY — A total of 34,612 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico in the four years since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an offensive against drug cartels, officials said Wednesday.
The killings reached their highest level in 2010, jumping by almost 60 percent to 15,273 deaths from 9,616 the previous year.[..]
quote:Colorado and Washington enjoy their marijuana moment
Marijuana users and activists celebrated the drug's legalisation in Colorado and Washington as landmark victories on Wednesday but uncertainty over the federal government's response tempered jubilation.
Voters in both states on Tuesday approved amendments legalising the recreational use of marijuana, historic decisions that reflect growing disenchantment across the US with the decades-old "war on drugs".
quote:Felipe Calderon calls for review of drug policy in wake of US cannabis vote
Outgoing Mexican president Felipe Calderon joined three Central American peers in calling for a review of regional drug policy Monday following the legalization of marijuana possession by two US states last week.
Calderon was speaking in Mexico City after a previously planned meeting on drug policy with the leaders of Honduras, Belize and Costa Rica.
quote:BC Marijuana Legalization Could Bring In Billions: Activists
VANCOUVER - It's a bounty that almost does grow on trees.
A new study has rung in British Columbians' pot purchases at about half a billion dollars each year, leading its pro-legalization researchers to argue current laws mean the province is missing an opportunity to harvest tax revenues.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have quantified the retail value of black market marijuana sold only to British Columbians for the first time, pegging its value at between $443 million and $564 million annually.
"What's important is to get a sense of how many people are using marijuana in B.C., and how much they're using, and how much that's worth," said Dan Werb, the study's lead author and co-founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. "That data drives policy."
The study comes as part of a growing campaign of health, legal and law experts to persuade politicians in B.C. to look at alternatives to the current system they argue fuels gang violence and does nothing to reduce drug use.
The campaign has gained momentum after Washington State and Colorado voted earlier this month to legalize, sell and tax marijuana, and the study's researchers are already watching lessons from the incoming implementation.
Using data from Health Canada and the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., the researchers found the population of marijuana users to be about 366,000 and the retail cost to be about $7.50 per gram.
They used data about how often and how much is used in conjunction with those figures to determine the size of the illegal provincial market.
The paper doesn't specifically estimate tax revenues.
"But what it does is lay the groundwork and points to a few ways policy-makers could start looking at tax revenues," Werb said.
He cited government data from Washington State, which lays out the fiscal impact of the marijuana ballot initiative, and noted the population of weed users in B.C.'s neighbour to the south is estimated at 363,000 — a very similar number to B.C.
Initiative 502 puts in place a 25 per cent tax on pot sales, and the government anticipates that starting two years from implementation, the state will bring in tax and licensing revenues nearing half a billion each year.
The coalition contends that B.C., too, could rake in $2.5 billion over five years.
In Washington, 55 per cent of taxes will go to health care, 25 per cent to drug abuse treatment and medication, one per cent for cannabis-related research and the remainder will be general revenue.
"It would allow revenues that are currently being used towards the enforcement of cannabis laws be diverted perhaps towards the organized crime unit or other enforcement interventions that would target higher-level traffickers," Werb suggested of B.C.
Two economists at the University of British Columbia agree that millions in tax revenues would likely be generated from regulated pot sales, though they suggested caution be taken in estimating the enormity of the windfall.
Prof. Werner Antweiler said economic principles suggest that taking weed off the black market and into a regulated system would lower the overall price of the product — though not its demand — and therefore generate less.
But he also noted the 25 per cent tax created by Washington seems to be at the low-end of what he might expect to see applied to marijuana.
He said that in Canada, taxes on tobacco account for 81 per cent of the retail price — largely to account for high health-care costs associated with lung cancer, and because governments are trying to dissuade its purchase.
Putting a larger, so-called sin tax on marijuana would not tread new ground, added Prof. Kevin Milligan.
He said the result of the tax would be similar to what happens with environmental taxation, which is called a "double dividend."
"The point of the tax is you get less illegal activity, and some revenue you can do something with," he said. "It could potentially benefit B.C. taxpayers."
Het artikel gaat verder.quote:World's biggest independent drug use survey is launched
Global Drug Survey collects detailed information about what drugs people use, why and how often
The world's biggest independent survey of drug use, collecting detailed data on the drug experiences of tens of thousands of people, launches on Thursday.
The Guardian, along with a range of media partners across the globe, is supporting the survey, which asks participants about what drugs they use, why they take them and how often, and what the social, medical and legal consequences of their drug use are.
Drugs covered by the survey include cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, ketamine, mephedrone, alcohol, tobacco, "legal highs" and prescription medicines such as temazepam, Viagra and opioid painkillers.
You can access the 2013 drug survey here.
Last year's survey was completed by 15,500 respondents. The results, published in March and reported all over the world, provided a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of people's drug habits and experiences.
The 2013 survey, which is online and takes about 20 minutes to complete, is anonymised and confidential. It is conducted by Global Drug Survey (GDS), an independent, self-funded data mapping agency.
quote:War on drugs: Campaigning countess winning support to change world laws
Amanda Feilding, the countess of Wemyss and March, is being taken seriously in her quest to change drug policy across the world after years of being portrayed as an eccentric aristocrat
The proud owner of a country estate and an aristocratic title, Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss and March, might seem an unlikely campaigner for the reform of laws criminalising recreational drugs. But no one can say she hasn't put the hours in.
For the past 15 years, as part of the Beckley Foundation, which she set up in 1989, Feilding has hosted seminars, promoted research and lobbied the powerful in the name of legalisation. At one stage the Daily Mail became sufficiently alarmed to ask: "Is the countess just an amusing and irrelevant eccentric? Or could she be a real danger to society?" Feilding was clearly amused by that suggestion.
On 5 December, she will oversee the launch of a new global initiative to deal with what she tells the Observer is "the real danger to society" – a counterproductive war on drugs that allows a deadly criminal culture to thrive across the globe.
With the support of an array of politicians, stars, academics and artists, the campaign will be launched with a documentary film, Breaking the Taboo, at Google's premises in London and New York. It is supported by Virgin and by Avaaz, a campaigning community with 16 million members. The website asks people to recognise that the war on drugs has failed and that the cost of fighting it is unbearable for many countries, while the availability and range of drugs increases every year. It asks people to urge governments to promote new policies based on scientific evidence.
Supporters include former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, Poland and the US, and Feilding hopes that a fundamental global review of drugs laws is closer than ever before.
"For 15 years I have been working away with opinion-formers," said Feilding. "But now it is time to get politicians onside. Politicians will not move unless they are driven by the people. We need a grassroots movement of people saying that our children will be better looked after if the government regulates the supply of drugs, rather than leaving it to criminals.
"It has been a long journey, but I think the climate is fundamentally different from even two years ago. We are on the cusp of a big change."
Breaking the Taboo tells the stories of addicts and random victims of drug gang violence. It also features the former president of Colombia, CÚsar Gaviria, whose brother was kidnapped and sister murdered.
Change is coming, Feilding believes, because the belief that drugs policy is not working has gone mainstream. "Now it's people like Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and the president of Guatemala saying it's time for a change," she said.
Earlier this year Feilding was invited by Otto PÚrez Molina, the president of Guatemala, to advise the government on drugs policies that will cut the level of drug-related violence and corruption that blight the country. Guatemala is one of many transit countries in Central America where rival gangs compete and bribe officials as they move cocaine and other drugs from South America to the US.
Feilding's journey to the forefront of the campaign to reform drugs policy began in 1960, when she first smoked cannabis at Oxford University, beginning a lifelong fascination with the benefits of altering the consciousness and a desire to understand the dangers.
Her foundation undoubtedly has its radical side, exploring the idea that some drugs could enhance understanding and creativity. A major part of the foundation's work has been to fund experiments into the use of psychoactive drugs. That research – carried out at Imperial College and University College, London, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore – has suggested that MDMA, LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) can all have benefits for psychological health.
"In this time when there is so much psychosis, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, the NHS cannot afford to give everyone two years of therapy. We need to find better and faster ways to treat people and psychoactive drugs with skilled therapists could be the answer," she said.
However, the main concern has been the question of legalisation. The Beckley Foundation has consistently promoted the reform of global drugs policy, using money raised from donors such as the financier George Soros. Regular policy seminars have taken place in the House of Lords and featured scientists and policy specialists from all over the world.
Some of those talks led to unwanted headlines. The government's adviser on drugs, Professor David Nutt, was forced to resign when he suggested at a Beckley event that alcohol and tobacco were far more dangerous than cannabis and, in a separate incident, said taking ecstasy was no more dangerous than horse-riding.
Perhaps conscious of how her past may be perceived, Feilding emphasises that she believes in the strict regulation of drugs rather than nonregulation. "We are not talking about selling things in Tesco. There should be no advertising and no selling to minors. Some things might only be sold on prescription," she said.
Her vision of Britain includes cannabis farmers' markets, such as in Barcelona; the prescription of heroin for addicts, as takes place in Switzerland; or the use of psychoactive drugs for marriage counselling, which has happened in the US. "Right now we have a completely unregulated market controlled by criminals. Everyone would be much safer in a regulated society than the unregulated one that exists now," she said. After 15 years making the argument, Feilding thinks the world might finally be listening.
quote:Uruguayan Deputies Say Legalize All Drugs
Even as Uruguay considers a groundbreaking proposal from President Jose Mujica to legalize state-regulated marijuana cultivation and sales, parliamentarians from most of the leading political factions in the country are calling on the government to go even further and legalize all drugs in a bid to blunt the power of and threat from illicit drug traffickers.
The comments came in interviews solicited by and published in the Uruguayan news weekly Busqueda and appeared in its November 22 issue.
The war on drugs has been "a resounding failure" because it has "fortified crime," said Independent Party Deputy Ivan Posada. Forty years of drug war has created a reality where there exist "true international enterprises dedicated to the traffic in drugs," which can only be effectively combated by "establishing the legalization of the traffic of all drugs," he said.
The legalization of marijuana sales and cultivation (use and possession are already legal in Uruguay) proposed by Mujica and his Broad Front (Frente Amplio) government is "doomed to failure" because it is only a half-measure and not a global strategy, Posada sniped.
The war on drugs approach "will fall sooner or later in this century," said Deputy Jose Bayardi of the Artigist Tendency (Vertiente Artiguista), a social democratic current within the Broad Front. "The only solution there is to defeat the drug trade is the legalization of all psychoactive drugs," he said.
"There will come a moment in which all the drugs that are today illegal -- heroin, cocaine, etc. -- will be administered in the same manner, with an informative pamphlet," said Bayardi, a former defense minister. "Then, the individual will take the responsibility for doing with them what he wishes. We are going down this path. Sooner rather than later, we will arrive, and then we will really be fighting the drug trade," he said.
The steps the government is taking to legalize and regulate marijuana sales and cultivation "are a beginning, a point of departure" on a path where "the state will regulate all drugs," said Broad Front Deputy Sebatian Sabini, who chairs the Commission on Addiction in the Uruguayan House of Representatives. "As a society, we aren't ready to discuss it, but in the long run we have to do it, also for public health reasons. We can carry the same analysis of the drug trade that leads us to legalize marijuana on to base, to cocaine," he said.
National Alliance Deputy Pablo Itturralde said what was needed first was a an educational campaign illuminating the dangers caused by drug abuse. "After that, if someone wants, he can consume what he will," he said.
Marijuana users aren't the problem, Itturalde said. "If there is a drug that is implicated in public safety, it is paste base," he said. "Marijuana users are peace and love people." [Ed: Paste base is also known as "pasta de cocaÝna," thought of similarly to crack cocaine, and is considered Uruguay's most worrisome drug problem.]
The leader of the House of Representatives, Deputy Jorge Orrico, also said that the way to fight the drug trade is to "legalize all drugs," although he caviled about paste base because of its negative effects. "Of all the other substances, I have no doubt because the business works in clandestinity. At the least, we can diminish the mafia," he said.
While the talk of legalization of all drugs cuts across the political spectrum in Uruguay, at this point it is only the legalization and regulation of marijuana commerce that is on the legislative agenda. But it sure looks like many Uruguayans are interested in looking further.
quote:De 'Mexicaanse heldin van de 21ste eeuw' is niet meer. Maria Santos Gorrostieta werd ontvoerd, gemarteld en uiteindelijk geŰxecuteerd. De 36-jarige harde tante zette als burgemeester haar leven op het spel door de strijd aan te gaan met de almachtige drugsbendes. Twee moordpogingen had ze al overleefd, de derde werd haar fataal.
quote:Mexican president Felipe Calderon has stepped down, six years after launching a crackdown on his country's drug cartels in December 2006. Since then, more than 50,000 people have been killed
quote:It was in this remote region that the outgoing Mexican president, Felipe Calderˇn, launched the first stage of what would become a nationwide military offensive against organised crime. Days after taking office in December 2006, he deployed battalions of masked troops and heavily armed federal police – first a few thousand in his home state of Michoacßn and eventually 50,000 across the country. He even wore a military uniform when he appeared at a Michoacßn army base to cheer on the soldiers.
The message was simple: after decades of playing down the growing power of the drug cartels, it was time for the Mexican state to flex its muscles.
But as Calderˇn leaves office, the reality of life in Tierra Caliente (Hot Land) offers a stark rebuke to his strategy. The flow of drugs northward appears to have continued unabated despite a string of cartel bosses being captured or killed in the years since he launched the offensive.
In that time, at least 60,000 people – possibly 100,000 – have been killed in violence across Mexico. Thousands more have disappeared. Scores of judges, journalists, politicians and local mayors have been assassinated, and the armed forces have been accused of systematic torture and abuse. The number of deaths appears to have plateaued in the past year, but the experience of Tierra Caliente suggests a falling murder rate is not necessarily any indication that the government is winning.
quote:In this part of Michoacßn, the immediate result of Calderˇn's offensive was a surge of violence as the military presence exacerbated a power struggle between rival groups of narcos.
"Instead of helping, it produced more violence," observes one young professional in a small Tierra Caliente town.
That phase ended when the Caballeros beat off their rivals, and set about consolidating control. As a general in the region recently admitted, the recent relative calm owes more to the group's victory over its rivals than it does to the efforts of the federal forces.
"What Los Caballeros Templarios is doing is maintaining tight control on organised crime in this area," General Miguel Angel Patino told the Associated Press. "The dominance allows the area to stay quiet, to a certain point."
quote:Even if there were popular support for a confrontation, there are few incentives for local mayors to stand up to organised crime. Earlier this month, Maria Santos Gorrostieta, the former mayor of Tiquicheo, was dragged from her vehicle in front of her young children. Her body was found later with signs of torture. It was the third attempt on her life.
When Michoacßn's governor obliquely blamed the caballeros for the murder, they responded with banners and pamphlets that denied the charge. They went on to allege that they had helped to get him elected last year as part of a secret pact made with his close associates that included getting the vote out in the Tierra Caliente. Now, the banner claimed, they merely wanted him "to tell us directly whether we can expect some return on our investment".
Calderˇn has consistently argued that taking the war to the cartels was the only way to stop Mexico becoming a "narco-state," but in this part of the country, the caballeros have already taken control of areas of everyday life that have nothing to do with the production or shipment of drugs. Locals say the cartel decides when the mango or lemon harvest should start, according to its reading of market trends. Farmers who cannot wait for the best prices must sell their fruit in secret, at considerable personal risk.
The caballeros are also said to have become the preferred option for sorting out disputes among members of the community, ranging from the disagreements over boundary fences to unpaid debts or a violent husband.
One witness describes how a cartel representative courteously welcomes disputing parties into his office and delivers his judgment without so much as a hint of a threat. "There is no need for that," the witness says. "Everybody knows what could happen."
Ik quote 1 bladzijde:quote:
quote:It seems very unlikely that the momentum for legalization will stop on its own. About 50 percent of voters around the country now favor legalizing the drug for recreational use (the number only passed 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009), and the younger you are, the more likely you are to favor legal pot. Legalization campaigns have the backing of a few committed billionaires, notably George Soros and Peter Lewis, and the polls suggest that the support for legalization won’t simply be confined to progressive coalitions: More than a third of conservatives are for full legalization, and there is a gender gap, with more men in favor than women. Perhaps most striking of all, an organized opposition seems to have vanished completely. In Washington State, the two registered groups opposing the referendum had combined by early fall to raise a grand total of $16,000. “We have a marriage-equality initiative on the ballot here, and it is all over television, the radio, the newspapers,” Christine Gregoire, the Democratic governor of Washington, told me just before the election. When it comes to marijuana, “it’s really interesting. You don’t hear it discussed at all.” A decade ago, legalization advocates were struggling to corral pledges of support for medicinal pot from very liberal politicians. Now, the old fearful talk about a gateway drug has disappeared entirely, and voters in two states have chosen a marijuana regime more liberal than Amsterdam’s.
These votes suggest what may be a spreading, geographic Humboldt of the mind, in which the liberties of pot in far-northern California, and the unusually ambiguous legal regime there, metastasize around the country. If you live in Seattle and sell licensed marijuana, your operation could be perfectly legal from the perspective of the state government and committing a federal crime at the same time. It is hard to detect much political enthusiasm for a federal pot crackdown, but the complexities that come with these new laws may be hard for Washington to simply ignore. What happens, for instance, when a New York dealer secures a license and a storefront in Denver, and then illegally ships the weed back home? Economists who have studied these questions thoroughly say that they can’t rule out a scenario in which little changes in the consumption of pot—the same people will smoke who always have. But they also can’t rule out a scenario in which consumption doubles, or more than doubles, and pot is not so much less prevalent than alcohol.
And yet the prohibition on marijuana is something more than just a fading relic of the culture wars. It has also been part of the ad hoc assemblage of laws, treaties, and policies that together we call the “war on drugs,” and it is in this context that the votes on Election Day may have their furthest reach. When activists in California tried to fully legalize marijuana there in 2010, the most deeply felt opposition came from the president of Mexico, who called the initiative “absurd,” telling reporters that an America that legalized marijuana had “very little moral authority to condemn a Mexican farmer who for hunger is planting marijuana to sustain the insatiable North American market for drugs.” This year, the reaction from the chief strategist for the incoming Mexican president was even broader and more pointed. The votes in Colorado and Washington, he said, “change somewhat the rules of the game … we have to carry out a review of our joint policies in regard to drug trafficking and security in general.” The suggestion from south of the border wasn’t that cocaine should be subject to the same regime as marijuana. It was: If we are going to rewrite the rules on drug policy to make them more sensible, why stop at only one drug? Why go partway?
Something unexpected has happened in the past five years. The condemnations of the war on drugs—of the mechanized imprisonment of much of our inner şcities, of the brutal wars sustained in Latin America at our behest, of the sheer cost of prohibition, now likely past a trillion dollars—have migrated out from the left-wing cul-de-sacs that they have long inhabited and into the political Establishment. “The war on drugs, though well-intentioned, has been a failure,” New Jersey governor Chris Christie said this summer. A global blue-ribbon panel that included both the former Reagan secretary of State George Shultz and Kofi Annan had reached the same conclusion the previous June: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies.” The pressures from south of the border have grown far more urgent: The presidents of Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, and Costa Rica have all called for a broad reconsideration of the drug war in the past year, and the Organization of American States is now trying to work out what realistic alternatives there might be.
quote:Advocaat Henk Brink noemde de handelwijze van de politie maandag onaanvaardbaar. De raadsman zegt dat zijn cliŰnt door de politie onnodig in gevaar is gebracht en meent dat het Openbaar Ministerie daarom het recht op vervolging heeft verspeeld.
quote:Een lange reeks onopgeloste liquidaties in de Brabantse onderwereld toont volgens advocaat Brink aan dat het Openbaar Ministerie geen benul heeft van het risico dat is genomen door de partij softdrugs stiekem mee te nemen.
De War on Drugs komt lekker op gang in Nederland.quote:Het is de tweede liquidatie onder criminelen in korte tijd in de buurt van Amsterdam. Anderhalve week geleden werd in Badhoevedorp Remco H. doodgeschoten. Ook hij was een bekende van de politie.
Dat zeggen ze ook van die 60.000 dode Mexicanen.quote:
Het geweld is resultaat van het verbod op drugs.quote:
Het verschil lijkt me niet relevant.quote:
In Mexico zagen we militaire eenheden veranderen in een nieuw drugkartel. Die zagen het verschil ook niet.quote:
quote:Heeding Calls For ‘Less Prohibitionist’ Approach, UN Agrees To Reconsider Global Drug Policy
n response to a resolution from Latin American countries lamenting the failure of the drug war, the United Nations General Assembly voted last week to reconsider the international approach to drug policy during a special session.
In proposing the summit to the UN in September, then-Mexican President Felipe Calderon (who left office Dec. 1) questioned the U.S.-led war on drugs, and said the UN should lead a debate over a “less prohibitionist” approach. Last year he suggested that countries should consider drug legalization among the possible alternatives. Calderon made clear, however, that they “won’t cede an inch” in cracking down on gangs.
Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos said during the meeting that it is the UN’s duty to “determine – on an objective scientific basis – if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat this scourge.” He also said that Colombia would be open to legalization if other countries were to also do so, and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has outright endorsed legalization in the past. Reuters reported in September:
. Mexico and Colombia are two of Washington’s firmest allies in Latin America and both work closely with U.S. anti-drug efforts. While the subject of legalization was discussed at an Americas-wide summit in Colombia attended by U.S. President Barack Obama earlier this year, raising the once-taboo subject at the 193-nation meeting in New York amounts to an escalation of the debate.
At the time of this initial proposal, Reuters reported that Obama “ruled out any major changes on drug laws,” but that was before two U.S. states passed ballot initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol – prompting global discussion about how these state laws will change drug policy, and a warning statement from the the head of a UN drug agency that the United States will be violating international drug treaties.
Obama has not provided any public response to the passage of the two state laws, and both the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration have largely hedged in revealing how they plan to respond to the laws’ implementation, saying only that federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act “remains unchanged.” The laws have also prompted several members of Congress to propose an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act that would exempt those states that have passed laws from the act’s marijuana provisions. Other members of Congress have simply asked the federal government not to prosecute those in compliance with the new state marijuana laws – an approach they have rejected with respect to medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal.
Mexico’s new president, Enrique Pe˝a Nieto, has also expressed a desire to move “beyond the drug war” and says he plans to focus more on reducing violence.