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Former Drug Kingpin Releases Memoirs

May 21st, 2009 by Russ

Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo

As Morgan Freeman noted in The Shawshank Redemption, “Prison time is slow time.”

For one former drug trafficker, time has afforded him the opportunity to share his story with his fellow countrymen. Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, once the most powerful drug boss of his day, has released a 36-page retelling of his reign to the Mexican magazine, Gatorpardo.

Entitled Diaries of the Boss of Bosses, the manifesto covers the 18-years that Gallardo spent in the drug trade, ultimately finding himself at the top of the heap.

From his high vantage, he had a clear view of the corrupting influence of narco-dollars on his own men, and on the police and military officials that he courted.

One close associate of his, Gonzalez Calderoni, was publicly known as a Tango & Cash-like supercop. In reality, Calderoni was nothing more than a corrupt official, living off of tips and intelligence provided by friendly traffickers. When the price was right, Calderoni turned on Gallardo, and ambushed him at a local Guadalajara restaurant.

Gallardo’s story offers up some important reminders for modern drug warriors. One, is that these vast sums of drugs targeted and seized are a hugely corrupting influence on all who come across them. Another, is that regardless of who is removed from the drug trade (even the kingpin himself) it will always perpetuate itself.

Border Patrol Agents Using Tonto’s Skills

May 13th, 2009 by Rick

U.S. Bordrer Patrol

No longer are U.S. Border Patrol agents merely driving along the 2,000 mile long Mexican border searching for suspicious vehicles, looking to smuggle drugs into the United States. With the building of new fences and the utilization of high-tech devices and because of the new initiative taken by both countries to seriously put a dent in drug cartel operation, drug smugglers have had to change tactics in moving their product.

One possible drop point, among many, is Interstate 10, near the New Mexico/Arizona border, which is only accessible by hiking over 75 miles of Rocky Mountain terrain and dry valleys — a trek that would take five to seven days. Using the same tracking skills as the Native Americans once used, agents can look at the depth of the footprint impressions and figure out approximately how much weight a smuggler is carrying, where they crossed and ultimately where they may be going.

For the past six months, the U.S. Border Patrol has seized 1.3 million pounds of marijuana — nearly equal to the entire seizure amount from last year. Clearly, the tactics and technology used by the U.S. Border Patrol is working but the drug cartels, have always rolled with the punches, coming up with new ways of staying alive and pushing weight into this country. Over a million pounds is an impressive number, but it leaves you wondering, just how much actually made it through?

It’s rather sad that a plant that can be grown in any country, indoors or outdoors is constantly being brought into this country, bringing with it; gangs, cartel members and violence. Marijuana, along with any type of illegal drug is currency on the black market… as long as marijuana is worth money, it will continue to be imported illegally into this country by anyone and everyone that thinks they can make a buck. If marijuana was to be made legal and citizens could grow it themselves for personal use, it would lose its value as a currency, but ironically enough it would not lose its worth as a medicinal or recreational drug.

Debris: Monday’s Leftovers

May 5th, 2009 by Rick

Monday's Leftovers

Jury Spares Witness Killer’s Life

A drug dealer already behind bars, Patrick Albert Byers Jr, convicted for ordering the contract killing of a murder witness, was spared the death penalty and given four consecutive life sentences.

Man Gets Life for Infant Death

Another convicted drug dealer, Mario Lee Torres, received a sentence of life in prison for the death of an infant.

Department of Homeland Security Visits Mexico

Department of Homeland Security sent newly appointed Assistant secretary for international affairs, Alan Bersin to Mexico for more pats on the ass and “attaboys”.

Ashland, KY Doctor Pleads Guilty, Gets Probation

Dr. John Van Deren, 50, pled guilty for driving under influence of drugs, cocaine possession, two counts of possession of controlled substances and having prescription medication not in a proper container.

Maylasian Police Recover Millions in Methamphetamines

Early Sunday, Malaysian police discovered 900 kilograms of methamphetamines in 10 large bins in the central of state of Pahang, a haul worth millions.

Mexican Senate Votes to Decriminalize Weed Posession

April 30th, 2009 by Russ

Mexican Senate

The Mexican Senate approved a measure Tuesday that would eliminate penalties for possession of several drugs, including marijuana. Proposed by conservative President Felipe Calderon, the bill would legalize possession of up to five grams of pot, half a gram of cocaine, and traces of harder drugs such as meth and heroin. The bill also would eliminate mandatory federal sentencing for small-scale dealers.

Following a nationwide debate on the efficacy of President Calderon’s escalation of violence against local drug cartels, several regional leaders have publicly supported a national policy of decriminalization. Former Presidents Ernesto Zadillo (Mexico), Fernando Cardozo (Brazil), and Cesar Gaviria (Columbia) all endorsed a return to progressive drug politics in the wake of a staggering rise in drug-related violence.

Succumbing to public pressure, Calderon proposed the legislation with the hopes of relieving some of the burden on local law enforcement, and allowing a more focused pursuit of high level drug traffickers. The bill awaits the endorsement of the Mexican lower house before it can be passed into law.

Former Pastor Expresses Liberal View on Marijuana

April 29th, 2009 by Erin

Ben Cole

A compassionate outlook on marijuana use… from a pastor?

An essay written for the Associated Baptist Press by Benjamin Cole, former pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Arlington outlines Cole’s thoughts on what should be done about marijuana laws. His opinions are surprisingly (and refreshingly) liberal.

He begins his essay with:

Can anything good come out of Mexico?

Forgetting about the delicious carnitas burritos that have more often than not satisfied my voracious munchies, the drug trafficking through Mexico is becoming an issue that is keeping many Americans awake at night. Agreeing that there are two sides to the subject, Cole wants to have a serious discussion about the “War on Drugs”.

Cole suggests that “a way forward exists in the debate whereby society can generally discourage marijuana usage without the full force of criminal statute.”

More than 30 times the number of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war since Obama took office have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, undoubtedly increasing the number of politicians (both Dems and Reps) that are looking to change our nation’s laws regarding marijuana.

Cole outlines his four basic approaches regarding the federal policy issue of cannabis possession; the first being the complete legalization of marijuana, provided there are regulations on production and distribution, as well as the taxes that would ultimately generate much needed federal revenues.

His second idea is to decriminalize the possession of cannabis; imposing small fines rather than prison sentences. This would generate revenue while still discouraging marijuana use.

The third approach is to completely declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance (why we haven’t done this already, I have no idea), which would reduce investigations and prosecutions.

Fourth and foremost, the laws could remain in place and the federal government could easily choose not to enforce them. This would result in the laws simply dying based on universal neglect, but would also bring up a number of possible loopholes and problems.

Cole then points out that the distinction needs to be made between personal freedom and commercial vice, and many say that marijuana use should be an individual choice. He encourages Americans to make educated moral distinctions between personal cannabis use and mass production resulting in significant profit, as well as more severe penalties.

Obama Visits Mexico, Clarifies Stance

April 20th, 2009 by Rick

Presidents Barak Obama and Felipe Calderon

During a joint press conference last Thursday with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, President Obama clarified his stance on the war on drugs. He said that the goal of the American government and the Mexican government is to keep the drug and criminal activity in Mexico.

Obama even said something that everyone in the counter-culture scene needs to be weary of:

I will not pretend that this is Mexico’s responsibility alone. Demand for these drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business. [...] Are we going to eliminate all drug flows? Are we going to eliminate all guns coming over the border? That’s not a realistic objective.

Yet, a realistic objective is to keep the cartels and their drugs in Mexico.

Obama added:

What is a realistic objective is to reduce it so significantly, so drastically that it becomes once again a localized criminal problem, as opposed to a major structural problem that threatens stability in communities along those borders and that increases corruption and threatens the rule of law

That will be interesting to see. With an increase of technology and the profit that the cartels have achieved, they are now essentially mobilized armies able to topple fully-established governments.

In conclusion of the press conference, Obama claimed that they have targeted three cartels as significant foreign narcotics drug traffickers and with the help of the U.S. Treasury Department and Mexico, they plan to freeze the assets of the cartels and create sanctions.

Freezing their bank accounts will not stop them from starting over in another area of Mexico.

Mexican Congress Ponders Legalization

April 15th, 2009 by Russ

Mexican Congress

In the midst of its worst drug-related violence in decades, the Mexican Congress has planned a three day debate on the feasibility of legalizing weed. The talks are planned to conclude (not coincidentally) a day before President Obama arrives to discuss the future of American and Mexican drug war efforts.

Any move towards decriminalization would surely irk the American delegation, who have been repeatedly dumping billions of dollars into assisting Mexican military forces with their efforts to battle several incredibly well financed and entrenched drug cartels.

Dubbed “Plan Mexico” by its detractors, the plan has the US on the hook for over a billion and a half dollars in technology and training, with further provisions coming down the pipe including the delivery of several brand new Black Hawk helicopters. The debate will also chafe the sensibilities of President Felipe Calderon who has staked a reputation on a more violent and brute force-like approach to his country’s drug problems.

Alternatively, the debate comes with the blessings of three former presidents: Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo, Brazil’s Fernando Cardoso, and Columbia’s César Gaviria. These leaders maintain that a decriminalization campaign could vastly reduce the income stream of cartels. It’s estimated that marijuana accounts for 60% of cartel profits. This speaks to the massive volume of Mexican weed in circulation given that Mexico is also the largest US supplier of both cocaine and methamphetamines.

Having already dismissed legalization proponents in his own country, a southward-bound President Obama may find a less receptive audience than he’s used to.

Marijuana Lip Service from South of the Border

April 14th, 2009 by Eric

Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer sat down with Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, to discuss the seemingly chaotic current state of Mexico.

Most of Sarukhan’s comments were centered around the violence, specifically in border towns, and the war with drug cartels.

When asked what the U.S could do to help support Mexico, he said:

We need the support of the United States to shut down the flow of weapons and bulk cash.

Towards the end of the short CBS interview, he was asked about marijuana. Schieffer asked:

Mr. Ambassador, what if marijuana were legalized? Would that change this situation?

The way the Ambassador dodges this question is something to be marveled at. Clearly Arturo Sarukhan is in the right profession.

He said:

This is a very divisive issue. There are proponents and opponents on both sides of the border. I think that those who would suggest that some of these measures be looked at understand the dynamics of the drug trade — that you have to bring demand down and the one way you can do it is by moving that direction. But there are many others who believe that by doing this you would only fan the flames. This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously, that we have to engage in on both sides of the border: both in producing, in trafficking, and in consumption countries.

So, to answer your question Mr. Schieffer, I will not answer it at all and instead, tell you that there are two opposing views and the discussion should be taken seriously. Silly me, I actually expected him to answer the question.

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