By Dialogo October 25, 2013 Security forces in Guatemala and El Salvador are launching initiatives to intercept large shipments of chemicals which are used to produce highly-addictive drugs, such as crystal methamphetamine and other drugs. The drug precursors are usually shipped from China. Organized crime operatives smuggle the precursors into Guatemala and El Salvador, where they are used to produce crystal methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs. ‘ Alarming consumption Two Mexican transnational criminal organizations, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, have greatly expanded their operations in Central America. Both organized crime groups have created alliances with gangs based in Central America, such as El Salvador’s Mara Salvatruch and 18th Street gangs. “The illicit activities of gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS) and Mara 18, have included the creation of labs and the trafficking of methamphetamines in the Central American market,” Rodríguez Luna explaine d. The Sinaloa Cartel is led by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who also has extensive operations in Ecuador. Operation Lionfish’ OAS initiative A growing threat In recent years, organized crime operatives have increased the volume of precursor drugs they smuggle into Central America, as well as the amount of synthetic drugs they produce in the region, according to Asturias. The production of synthetic drugs “is a problem that is becoming bigger for Central America,” Asturias said. “Synthetic drugs could start to replace the natural ones. Synthetic drugs are easier to produce, transport and move around in order to reach the market and satisfy the demand in countries such as the U.S.” Organized crime groups traffic most of the synthetic drugs that are produced in Central Americ north to Mexico and the U.S. But transnational criminal organizations are selling greater amounts of these drugs in the Americas. More synthetic drugs are consumed in Central America than other drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana. The annual consumption of synthetic drugs in El Salvador, Belize Costa Rica, and Panama is higher than the world average. There are some 330,000 synthetic drug users in Central America and the Carbbean, according to the anual report 2012 of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC). The United States, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, and El Salvador are among the countries with the highest numbers of illegal synthetic drug labs, according to Armando Rodríguez Luna, a security analyst at the researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Transnational criminal organization operatives typically smuggle precursor chemicals from China to ports in Central America and Mexico in large boats. Organized crime groups pick up the chemicals and transport them in SUVs and trucks to illegal labs. The chemicals are used to produce crystal methamphetamine , Ecstasy, and synthetic drugs which are known as “Spice,” “K-2” and “Wicked.” These drugs are highly addictive and can cause mental problems, such as paranoia, schizophrenia, and violent behavior. The chemicals are often shipped by Chinese organized crime groups, which are known as “triads.” A regional approach From China to Latin America In addition to Operation Lionfish, Guatemalan authorities and officials with the Organization of American States (OAS) have been developing an initiative to seize and destroy precursor chemicals since April 2013. The effort may eventually include security forces from other Central American countries, such as El Salvador, OAS officials said. The United States government provided $500,000 toward the initiative. Security forces from the Americas and U.S. officials are cooperating in the battle against the smuggling of precursor drugs into the region. The Americas and the U.S. are also cooperating to stop the smuggling of synthetic drugs from Central America north to Mexico and the United States. “The U.S. is concerned and therefore is cooperating with Central American nations to deal with the chemical precursors issue,” said Sandino Asturias, a coordinator of the International Centre for Human Rights Research (CIIDH), based in Guatemala. Guatemala and other Central American countries have become places where transnational criminal organizations store large amounts of drugs before smuggling them north, he explained. El Chapo’s role Guatemalan authorities, including anti-narcotics police and port security authorities, participated in “Operation Lionfish,” an effort to intercept ships that were transporting precursor chemicals to Central America. Authorities seized eight tons of precursor chemicals during the operation, which took place between May 27 and June 14, 2013. The confiscated precursors were stored in large warehouses in each of the countries. Guatemalan security forces were at the forefront of an international effort. Operation Lionfish was a collaboration between Guatemala, the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC), the World Customs Organization (WCO), Europol, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Europol and the RCMP were involved because organized crime groups smuggle crystal methamphetamines and other synthetic drugs into Canada and Europe. Seizing precursor chemicals was not the only objective of Operation Lionfish. Guatemalan Security forces who participated in the operation also gathered intelligence about the organized crime groups which smuggle precursor chemicals into Guatemala and the routes they use. Security forces throughout the region must cooperate with each other and with U.S. authorities to combat the synthetic drug problem, Asturias said. “The fight against drug trafficking must not be limited to seizing and destroying chemical precursors, there must also be a common and adequate regional policy,” Asturias explained. “Central American nations must update their laws, technology, investigation protocols and security institutions.” Central American security forces will continue to collaborate with U.S. authorities to fight drug trafficking, Rodriguez Luna said. “The fight against drug trafficking is a worldwide effort, not one only for consumer and producer nations and those that serve as drug corridors,” Rodriguez Luna explained. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are training a common security force to fight drug trafficking and other criinal enterprises, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said on Oct. 7, 2013, during an event organized by his country’s Air Force.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Every once in awhile, Congress will surprise you, like it did Wednesday when members of both the House and Senate struck down President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill that would permit family members of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.The overwhelming bi-partisan support for still-grieving families served as a humiliating rebuke for both Obama and Saudi Arabia, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, which has recently come under increased scrutiny despite an entrenched alliance that deepened after 9/11.In an appearance at a CNN town hall event Wednesday evening, President Obama said the vote was a “mistake” and would set a “dangerous precedent” for people abroad to bring suits against the United States.The bill, officially titled the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA),” opens the door for victims’ families of the Sept. 11 attacks to effectively take Saudi Arabia to court and examine whether officials within the government provided financial or logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers.“It’s very gratifying,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the sponsor of the House version of the bill, told the Press. “I really feel strongly for the 9/11 families; they fought hard on this.”The Senate voted overwhelmingly—97-1—to override the president’s veto on Wednesday. The House vote was 348-77. A two-thirds majority in Congress is required to overturn a presidential veto.The bipartisan vote was “one of the few times since 9/11 you saw real congressional unity today,” King added. Obama ReactsThe emotional appeal from 9/11 families underscored how sensitive the vote was—and Obama acknowledged as much during the CNN town hall.“It’s an example of why sometimes you have to do what’s hard, and frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard,” Obama said. “I didn’t expect it, because if you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.”CIA Director John Brennan also reacted with disappointment, saying the law “will have grave implications for the national security.”“The most damaging consequence would be for those US Government officials who dutifully work overseas on behalf of our country,” Brennan said in a statement. “The principle of sovereign immunity protects US officials every day, and is rooted in reciprocity. If we fail to uphold this standard for other countries, we place our own nation’s officials in danger.”Obama has argued that the measure would make the US vulnerable to similar lawsuits brought by victims of American-led operations.America’s Long WarThe White House’s opposition to the measure comes as Obama has expanded the parameters in which the US fights alleged militants around the world.As commander-in-chief, Obama has bombed at least seven predominantly Muslim countries using ubiquitous predator drone strikes and manned aircraft, causing hundreds of civilian deaths. He’s also deployed US Special Forces into countries, such as Libya, that the United States is not in hostilities with. In almost all instances, the administration cites the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force resolution, enacted three days after 9/11, to justify its actions.Ironically, the United States has helped weaponize the Saudi-led coalition that has decimated and destabilized Yemen, killing upwards of 10,000 people—almost half of whom were civilians, according to human rights groups, as part of its offensive against Houthi rebels. Among the civilian causalities were patients at a Yemeni hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and attendees at a couple of wedding parties.That the United States supports the Saudi government is of no surprise. Saudi Arabia is a long-time ally in the Middle East, serving as a counterweight to Iran, the kingdom’s chief rival in the region.But Rep. King says suggestions that Saudi Arabia will suddenly rethink its close relationship with the United States, or even sneer at Congress’ rebuke, are off-base.“I support America’s involvement with Saudi Arabia against terrorism,” the congressman said in a phone interview. “They have improved in many ways, and we are involved in a number of activities with them right now, which I support.”“The reason I’m not strongly concerned about a Saudi response—even though you have to take it into account—is, basically, the Saudis are survivors,” he added. “They don’t act based on hurt feelings. They realize it’s in their interest to maintain a close relationship with the US, at this time. It could always change in the future.”Scrutiny On SaudisThis is the second time in three months Washington has risked alienating the Saudis.In July, Congress released more than two dozen long-classified pages from the so-called “9/11 Commission Report”—a voluminous analysis by the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which investigated the circumstances leading up to, including and following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Known as the “28 Pages,” the recently released portion pertained to Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the tragedy, since 15 of the 19 hijackers hailed from the kingdom.The report did not explicitly link the Saudi Arabian royal family to the attacks, but was ambiguous enough to welcome speculation.“While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government,” the commission wrote in the report.“There is information, primarily from FBI sources, that at least two of those individuals were alleged by some to be Saudi intelligence officers,” it continued. “The joint inquiry’s review confirmed that the Intelligence Community also has information, much of which has yet to be independently verified, indicating that individuals associated with the Saudi Government in the United States may have other ties to al [Qaeda] and other terrorist groups.”Saudi Arabia has maintained that its rulers played no role in the 9/11 attacks.Now that JASTA has passed Congress’ muster—and survived a presidential veto—American families have the opportunity to take the Saudi government to court.The legislation notes that “persons, entities, or countries that knowingly or recklessly contribute material support or resources, directly or indirectly, to persons or organizations that pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism…should reasonably anticipate being brought to court in the United States to answer for such activities.”Supporters of the veto override were ecstatic.“We are overwhelmingly grateful that Congress did not let us down. The victims of 9/11 have fought for 15 long years to make sure that those responsible for the senseless murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children, and injuries to thousands others, are held accountable,” Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, said in a statement. “JASTA becoming law is a tremendous victory toward that effort. We rejoice in this triumph and look forward to our day in court and a time when we may finally get more answers regarding who was truly behind the attacks.”
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CORCORAN, Calif. – Cult leader Charles Manson was denied parole Wednesday, the 11th time since 1978 that he was ordered to continue serving life sentences for a murderous rampage in Los Angeles County in 1969. Manson, 72, did not attend or send a representative to the proceeding before the Board of Parole Hearings at Corcoran State Prison. He previously told a prison counselor that he refuses to participate.
There has been a major breakthrough in the search for missing Lifford man David Colhoun – after some of his clothing was found on a riverbank.David, 21, went missing on May 22 last after escaping police custody in Co Tyrone and trying to swim across the River Foyle to his home in Donegal.Despite a massive search involving the Gardai, PSNI and search and rescue teams, no sign of David has ever been found. His family has always believed he drowned while trying to cross the river to freedom.However his family now believe that clothing found close to Lifford Bridge belongs to the missing man.The clothing was found by David’s brother Mark during a search of the banks of the River Foyle.David’s father Joseph told Highland Radio’s Shaun Doherty that a tracksuit bottom and boxer shorts are unquestionably his son’s clothing. “I have no doubt about it. We went back to David’s room and the tracksuit is missing.“There was also red and white paint on the tracksuit bottom and David was painting his room just a couple of days before he went missing,” said Joseph.The clothing has been sent away for analysis while a renewed search has now been planned.“Now that we have the clothing then we can concentrate on a very specific area and hopefully find him.“This is the breakthrough we have been waiting for and hopefully we can bring home David soon and give him a proper burial,” he said. MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN SEARCH FOR LIFFORD MAN AFTER CLOTHING FOUND was last modified: November 23rd, 2011 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:David ColhounGardaiLiffordmissingPSNI