Drug war

Gulf Cartel Leader in Federal Court

October 23, 2014

by AQ Online

Juan Francisco Sáenz-Tamez, the 23-year-old head of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, has made his first court appearance, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday. Sáenz-Tamez was arrested by federal officials in Edinburg, Texas on October 9 and faces life in federal prison if convicted of drug charges.

Sáenz-Tamez was arrested on charges of money laundering and conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana earlier this month. The infamous Gulf cartel is best known for its bloody clashes with the Zetas cartel in northeastern Mexico. Despite his age, Sáenz-Tamez allegedly “oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico,” says Michele M. Leonhart, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Sáenz-Tamez’ arrest comes on the heels of the high-profile captures of other drug kingpins on both sides of the border, such as the October apprehensions of Hector “El Ingeniero” Beltran Leyva of the Arturo Beltran Leyva (ABL) cartel and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes of the Juárez drug cartel, as well as the February 22 capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel.

Sáenz-Tamez has plead not guilty to all charges.

Tags: Mexico, Drug war, Gulf Cartel

Alleged Beltrán Leyva Associate Linked to Politicians in Mexico

October 3, 2014

by AQ Online

Germán Goyeneche Ortega—an alleged financial operator for the Beltrán Leyva cartel—may be linked to a number of local and national politicians in Mexico, according to reports in the Mexican news media. Since Goyeneche’s arrest on Tuesday with cartel leader Héctor Beltrán Leyva, news reports have surfaced linking Goyeneche to members of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) and the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (Ecologist Green Party of Mexico—PVEM)—including the current and former municipal presidents of San Miguel de Allende and two members of the federal Chamber of Deputies.

Goyeneche was a member of the PVEM and reportedly was close to the party’s secretary general and federal deputy from Querétaro, Ricardo Astudillo. Astudillo recommended Goyeneche for the presidency of the Querétaro chapter of the Parlamento Ciudadano de México (Citizen's Parliament of Mexico—Pacime), a position Goyeneche ultimately received. According to the PVEM’s leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Arturo Escobar, Goyeneche’s political rights within the party have been suspended.

In addition his links to the PVEM, Goyeneche is alleged to have ties to prominent politicans in the PAN. On Monday, two days before his arrest, Goyeneche—who had invested in a real estate development in San Miguel de Allende—attended a pre-campaign event for federal Deputy Ricardo Villareal García of the PAN. La Jornada has reported that Villareal admitted to knowing Goyeneche in a phone interview with its reporters yesterday. “San Miguel is a very small municipality and when someone comes and invests a lot of money, everyone knows about it,” Villareal said. “I have no reason to deny knowing him, but I have no relationship to him, none.”

If a closer relationship between the panista and Goyeneche is confirmed, it would represent yet another blow in what has been a difficult summer for the party that broke Mexico’s history of single-party rule—and for the Villareal clan. Earlier this year, Villareal’s brother, Luis Alberto Villareal, was replaced as party leader in the Chamber of Deputies after a video emerged that showed him dancing with young women described as “table dancers.”

Tags: Drug war, PAN, PVEM

Morales Defends Right to Grow, Chew Coca

March 13, 2012

by AQ Online

Bolivian President Evo Morales pushed for legalizing the chewing of coca leaves during a 53-country United Nations narcotics control meeting on Monday in Vienna. A former cocalero and coca grower’s union leader, Morales held up a coca leaf during his address and argued that growing and chewing the crop are staples of Bolivia’s Andean culture.

In 1961, Bolivia’s military government ratified the U.N. Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs that declared the coca leaf an illegal narcotic, along with cocaine, heroin opium and others substances. The Morales administration withdrew from the convention last year and yesterday the president called its ratification a “historic error,” and said the “absurd prohibition of coca chewing” is not acceptable in Bolivia. “The coca leaf is not cocaine. We have to get rid of this misconception," he added.

Bolivia is willing to rejoin the convention only if member nations approve an amendment allowing traditional cultivation and consumption of coca leaves. But Yuri Fedotov, chief of UNODC, responded to Morales’ appeal by warning that “such kinds of initiatives in the long run may undermine” international consensus on drug control and “have a domino effect.”

Morales also used his time on the floor on Monday to call on developed nations to give Bolivia the tools to crack down on illegal cultivation intended for the manufacture of cocaine. Bolivia is the third-biggest cocaine producer after Peru and Colombia and the president asked for helicopters and other technology to combat drug-trafficking. The U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said this month that Bolivia has “failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements" over the last year.

Tags: Drug war, Drug Trafficking, President Evo Morales, Bolviia, UNODC

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

March 8, 2012

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

VP Biden Meets with Mexican and CentAm Leaders

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Mexico and Honduras this week. In Mexico, Biden met with President Felipe Calderón, where the two discussed trade ties, illegal arms trafficking, and the decriminalization of drugs. Biden qualified that third topic as “worth discussing,” but added that “there is no possibility the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy.” Biden also met with the three main Mexican presidential candidates: Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Enrique Peña Nieto, and Josefina Vázquez Mota. Biden pledged that the Obama administration plans to work with whoever wins the July elections, a promise Bloggings by Boz’s James Bosworth calls “an important gesture in this political climate.” Shannon O’Neil writes for LatIntelligence that the meeting showed how far Mexico’s democracy has come: “A few decades ago a U.S. official meeting with opposition candidates would have caused great consternation and tension between the governments; today it is accepted and even expected.” On Tuesday, Biden traveled to Tegucigalpa to meet with the presidents of Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. Biden addressed the challenges in confronting transnational crime and promised an additional $107 million for the Central American Regional Security Initiative. 

Mexico to the United States: Let Us in to the TPP

In an op-ed for Politico, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari García de Alba urges the United States to let Mexico enter negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade agreement involving nine countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Writes Ferrari: “Mexico’s inclusion in the TPP would be of real value to Washington—not only because it could provide an immediate boost to U.S. exports but also because increased Mexican sales to TPP markets would translate into more U.S. exports, a virtuous cycle. It would result in more jobs on both sides of the border.”

Mexico Hosts First Think-20 Research Summit

Writing for World Politics Review, the Stanley Foundation’s David Shorr reflects on last week’s Think-20, a summit held in Mexico City that brought together 22 representatives from research institutions around the world to discuss this year’s G20 agenda. The February 27 and 28 meetings were the first of their kind held in conjunction with the G20. “[T]he essential function of think tanks is to provide strategic perspective and innovative policy frameworks,” writes Schorr. “Hitching those capabilities more closely to the G20 may indeed prove helpful.” 

AS/COA Online covers the Think-20 on its Mexico City Conference blog. The annual AS/COA event held in Mexico’s capital takes place this year on March 13 and will explore Mexico’s global leadership role in the context of its G20 presidency. Visit www.as-coa.org/Mexico2012 for an agenda, analysis, and to tune into the live webcast on the day of the event.

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Tags: Drug war, Mexico Elections, Pacific Alliance, Biden Trip, Latino Voters

Biden Discusses Arms Trade, Bilateral Ties in Mexico

March 6, 2012

by AQ Online

During Vice President Joe Biden’s one-day visit to Mexico City on Monday, President Felipe Calderón asked that the United States do more to "strengthen actions against the trafficking of weapons into our country and money laundering,” according to a statement from the president's office. More than 60,000 of the weapons used by Mexican cartels have been identified as originating in the United States.

Biden also met with the three presidential candidates participating in Mexico’s July 1 general election to discuss security and cooperation. The frontrunner, Enrique Peña Nieto, said after his meeting that his Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) party is committed to fighting organized crime. "The discussion is not whether we should or shouldn't fight against it, but what we can do to achieve better results, he told reporters. Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador said later that the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship should prioritize development, jobs and welfare to decrease the push of migration. Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) candidate Josefina Vásquez Mota, who is closing in on Peña Nieto’s lead in the polls, said that the candidates in the U.S. and Mexican presidential should avoid the contentious immigration issue in the lead up to their respective elections.

Biden travels to Honduras today to meet with President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, as well as the presidents of El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Over the past several months, the presidents of these Central American nations—including Guatemala's President Otto Pérez Molina—and Mexico have said they are open to the idea of legalizing drugs as a response to the U.S.’s inability to curb demand. But after Biden said "there is no possibility the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy."

Tags: Immigration, Honduras, Drug war, Drug Cartels, Mexico Elections, Biden Trip

Seven Suspects Identified in Mexico Massacre

September 7, 2010

by AQ Online

Seven individuals were identified by Mexican authorities on Monday as suspects in the massacre of 72 migrants in northern Mexico, whose bodies were discovered during a raid on August 24. Three of the suspects were killed by navy personnel during the raid, while another three were found dead near a highway shortly thereafter. All suspects, including a seventh that was arrested last week are believed to be part of Los Zetas drug cartel and were identified by one of the three massacre survivors.

The bodies of the 72 mostly Honduran, Salvadorian and Ecuadorian migrants were discovered in the town of San Fernando in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas on the Texas border. As of Tuesday, 27 victims had been identified and are being repatriated to their home countries.

The massacre is the latest example of drug-related in northern Mexican states along the U.S. border. According to Alejandro Poiré, the government spokesman for security issues, the mass-murder “confirms that criminal organizations are looking to kidnapping and extortion because they are going through a difficult time obtaining resources and recruiting people willingly.”

Mr. Poiré’s comments come less than a week after the U.S. government announced it would withhold about $26 million in funding to Mexico’s anti-narcotics efforts over concerns that Mexico has not done enough to protect its people from cartel and police abuse.

Tags: Mexico, Immigration, Drug war, Massacre, Raid

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

February 10, 2010

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

UNASUR Pledges $300 Million in Aid for Haiti

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) held a Tuesday summit in Quito, where delegations from twelve countries and Haitian President René Préval met to discuss how South America would support Haiti relief efforts. At the meeting, UNASUR leaders committed to $300 million in aid, including $100 million for recovery with remaining funds going to a long-term, low-interest loan through the Inter-American Development Bank. The Hemispheric Brief blog offers an overview of the summit as well Haiti’s governance struggles.

Signs of Colombia-Ecuador Rapprochement at UNASUR Summit

UNASUR’s Haiti summit in Quito gave Colombia and Ecuador another change to reheat relations chilled since 2007, when a Colombian border incursion involving an attack on a guerilla camp led to a diplomatic breakdown. Colombian President Álvaro Uribe attended the summit, where his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa spoke optimistically about restoring relations. The two leaders will get the chance to meet again in less than two weeks at a Rio Group summit in Cancun. Moreover, Correa indicated interest in rejoining Peru and Colombia in talks about an Andean free-trade deal with the European Union.

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Tags: Costa Rica, Haiti, Drug war, UNASUR, Laura Chinchilla, Mexico Trucking, Venezuela energy, Hispanic

Weekly News Roundup from Across the Americas

July 15, 2009

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Mediated Talks on Honduras to Resume; Zelaya Calls for Insurrection

Talks between the deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the interim government ended in Costa Rica with little progress on July 10. Since then, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias announced talks would resume later this week and Zelaya said that, should he not gain reinstatement this weekend, he would consider the dialogue a failure. He also called on Hondurans to engage in an insurrection.

The Christian Science Monitor interviewed COA's Eric Farnsworth, who described the call for an uprising as "a colossal mistake." Moreover, in a debate on a National Jounal Experts blog, Farnsworth writes: “The real story is not the overthrow of Zelaya in Honduras…[but] where the hemisphere itself has been as nation after nation has elected leaders who then use the institutions of democracy to attempt to perpetuate themselves in power.”

The Wall Street Journal puts the Honduran crisis in context in a multimedia look at the history of caudillos. Considering both sides of the coup, the main article states: “In the eyes of the international community Roberto Micheletti took charge through an old-fashioned coup,” but “In Mr. Micheletti’s take on the events, it was his government who avoided another, slow-motion coup by Mr. Zelaya himself.”

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Tags: Chile, Peru, Canada, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Immigration, Honduras, Merida Initiative, Argentina, Elections, Drug war, Swine Flu, Iran