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Tag: Drugs

Ex-High Ranking U.S. Anti-Drug Official Arrested For Helping Mexican Cartels

mexico-border-signWe keep assuming that the corruption is limited to the Mexican government — and not the U.S. — when it comes to the violent war on drugs in Mexico. But people like Richard Padilla Cramer are a reminder that the problem long ago crept over the border. Greed knows no geographical boundary.

By Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — As a high-ranking U.S. anti-drug official, Richard Padilla Cramer held front-line posts in the war on Mexico’s murderous cartels. He led an office of two dozen agents in Arizona and was the attache for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Guadalajara.

While in Mexico, however, Cramer also served as a secret ally of drug lords, according to federal investigators.

Cramer allegedly advised traffickers on law enforcement tactics and pulled secret files to help them identify turncoats. He charged $2,000 for a Drug Enforcement Administration document that was sent to a suspect in Miami by e-mail in August, authorities said.

“Cramer was responsible for advising the [drug traffickers] how U.S. law enforcement works with warrants and record checks as well as how DEA conducts investigations to include ‘flipping subjects,’ ” or recruiting informants, a criminal complaint says.

For Full Story

Lack of Authority, Funding and Bad Image Hurt Mexican Police in Drug War

How can you battle the violent drug cartels when you have police departments that are powerless and underfunded like this? The Mexican president hopes to change some of this. We’ll see if he can pull this off.

mexico-map-istock

By Chris Hawley
Arizona Republic Mexico City Bureau
URAUPAN, Mexico — One of the police station’s doors is riddled with bullet holes. Shrapnel from grenades has scarred nearby walls. Inside, a makeshift shrine to the Virgin Mary honors officers who have lost their lives fighting drug traffickers.

So far, it has been a one-sided battle. The police force in Uruapan, a city of 280,000 that sits astride a major smuggling route in the Sierra Madre, doesn’t have a single detective. Mexican law prevents local police from questioning witnesses, doing undercover work or searching homes. The department is so cash-strapped that officers must buy their own bullets, at about 75 cents a pop, for target practice.

“We’re the ones out there every day, the easy targets for the drug traffickers,” says Police Chief Adolfo Medina, whose own house was strafed with gunfire in March. “But we’re handicapped.”

That may be changing. As Mexico’s U.S.-funded drug war reaches new levels of violence, President Felipe Calderon’s government has launched a $1 billion drive to train and equip beleaguered local police forces.

For Full Story

Feds Bust Rookie ICE Agent in Newark Drug Sting

A rookie mistake? Hardly.

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By The Newark Star-Ledger Staff
NEWARK –– A federal immigration agent suspected of robbing drug dealers was arrested yesterday during a pre-dawn sting at a Newark warehouse where he allegedly tried to steal what he believed was a shipment of cocaine, authorities said.

Valentino Johnson, a 25-year-old rookie agent, was surrounded by federal agents and a State Police SWAT team after he and two others grabbed the 110 pounds of fake narcotics from the sleeping compartment of a truck, authorities said.

For Full Story

NY Appeals Court Allows Evidence in Questionable Wiretap

Did the Appeals Court in N.Y. rule properly by allowing evidence from a questionable wiretap? It’s certainly questionable.  The lower court said investigators did not do enough to prove a wiretap was warranted.

istock photo

istock photo

By David Kravets
Wired

Despite refusing to “endorse” the government’s tactics in securing a warrant for a wiretap, a federal appeals court is ruling that authorities could use the fruits of their questionable eavesdropping in prosecuting an alleged drug dealer.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court judge who last year suppressed the 50 grams of crack cocaine that was evidence in the case against a man originally suspected of plotting terrorism against the United States.

The lower court said a magistrate judge erroneously issued the warrant, breaching the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which was designed to strike a balance between law enforcement and “the privacy rights of the individual.”

For Full Story

Read Court Ruling

Mexico Drug Dealers Operate in Prison and Bribe Their Way Out

It’s pretty simple: If you round up violent drug traffickers, lock them up and then let them go, it doesn’t do a lot of good. Mexico and the U.S. need to work more closely to deal with this issue.

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By MARC LACEY
New York Times
MEXICO CITY – The surveillance cameras captured it all: guards looking on nonchalantly as 53 inmates – many of them associated with one of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels – let themselves out of their cells and sped off in waiting vehicles.

The video shows that prison guards only pulled out their weapons after the inmates were well on their way. The brazen escape in May in the northern state of Zacatecas – carried out in minutes without a single shot fired – is just one of many glaring examples of how Mexico’s crowded and cruel prison system represents a critical weak link in the drug war.

Mexico’s prisons, as described by inmates and insiders and viewed during several visits, are places where drug traffickers find a new base of operations for their criminal empires, recruit underlings, and bribe their way out for the right price.

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Some Mexicans Want New Anti-Drug Strategy; Say This One is Failing

Understandably the drug violence in Mexico is making some people rethink the way that nation is fighting the drug war. But not offering an alternative is unacceptable. Plus, the U.S. still has to do more to help — particularly considering the most lucrative market for drugs is in the U.S. There have been more than 12,000 drug related deaths in Mexico in the past 2 1/2 years.

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By William Booth and Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
MEXICO CITY — President Felipe Calderón is under growing pressure to overhaul a U.S.-backed anti-narcotics strategy that many political leaders and analysts said is failing amid spectacular drug cartel assaults against the government.

There are now sustained calls in Mexico for a change in tactics, even from allies within Calderón’s political party, who say the deployment of 45,000 soldiers to fight the cartels is a flawed plan that relies too heavily on the blunt force of the military to stem soaring violence and lawlessness.

“The people of Mexico are losing hope, and it is urgent that Congress, the political parties and the president reconsider this strategy,” said Ramón Galindo, a senator and Calderón supporter who is a former mayor of Ciudad Juarez, a border city where more than 1,100 people have been killed this year.

For Full Story

Mexico’s Narco Al Capone Remains on the Lam

Joaquin Guzman Loera has become a narco folk hero in Mexico. He has also helped contribute to the growing violence in Mexico. Will he ever get caught or remain a free man like Bin Laden?

By DAVID LUHNOW and JOSE DE CORDOBA
The Wall Street Journal
Joaquin Guzman

Joaquin Guzman

BADIRAGUATO, Mexico — As a child, Joaquín Guzmán Loera was so poor that he sold oranges to scrape together money for a meal. Since then, the 52-year-old has built a business empire and a personal fortune currently tied for number 701 on Forbes magazine’s list of global titans.

He also has another ranking: Mexico’s most wanted man.

Mr. Guzmán is the informal CEO of one of the world’s biggest drug-trafficking organizations, the so-called Sinaloa cartel, named for its home state of Sinaloa.

It smuggles a big part of the marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines that end up on American streets, and it has links to organized crime in 23 countries, according to Mexican and U.S. officials.

“Blood Wires” Continue to Flow Over the Mexican Border

western-union

Money transfers have long been the lifeline for drug traffickers and others involved in illegal activity. Authorities in Arizona say Western Union is smack in the middle of it all and hasn’t cooperated enough. Western Union calls the allegations “erroneous and inflammatory”.

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
PHOENIX —  The bleeding body of Mexican immigrant Javier Resendiz Martinez was the first thing police noticed when they raided the bungalow on North 63rd Avenue here four years ago after reports of gunshots.

Soon afterward, however, they found payment logs of more than 100 wire transfers to Western Unions in the border town of Caborca, Mexico — which state and federal officials cite as evidence that the financial services company and other money transmitters are used by Mexican crime syndicates to help facilitate the smuggling of people into the United States.

Arizona Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard said human smuggling has become a $2-billion-a-year business in his state alone, thanks in large part to what he calls “blood wires,” the payments from family members, friends and employers to smugglers via Western Union and other companies.

Goddard and other Arizona officials have not accused Western Union of a crime. But in interviews and court documents they say the company consistently has rejected requests for cooperation, undermining efforts in Arizona to go after the crime cartels that control much of the increasingly violent trade in humans, drugs, weapons and laundered cash from their havens in Mexico.

For Full Story

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