What El Chapo’s Trial Revealed: The Inner Workings of a $14 Billion Drug Empire by Nicole Hong – Wall Street Journal
The trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, and his conviction Tuesday on drug-smuggling charges, brought to an end the decadeslong career of the notorious “El Chapo.” It also revealed in remarkable detail the inner workings of the criminal empire he built, one that rivaled governments and multinational companies in its power and sophistication.
After a three-month trial, the 61-year-old, who escaped twice from maximum-security prisons, was found guilty on 10 criminal counts by a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is expected to spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison.
Trial testimony laid bare the secrets of the Sinaloa cartel’s organizational structure, including how cocaine and marijuana rumbled across the U.S. border in the walls of freight trains, how in-house tech experts built encrypted communications networks and how the cartel moved money around using debit cards, suitcases of cash and private planes. It even built its own rail spurs to unload shipments…
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Guerrilla-Trained ‘Colectivo’ Threatens Humanitarian Aid to Venezuela - Venezuela Investigative Unit - Insight Crime
A new pro-government Venezuelan militia or “colectivo” allegedly trained by Colombian rebels may have posted itself alongside security forces on the Venezuela-Colombia border.
The colectivo’s appearance came at the same time as an announcement that humanitarian aid would be arriving to the region after requests by the country’s political opposition and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó. Venezuela currently faces devastating shortages of both medicine and food.
Since February 3, Freddy Bernal — whom President Nicolás Maduro appointed as the “protector” of the border state of Táchira in 2017 — has led the deployment of Venezuelan security forces in the country’s border towns. The forces are made up of both the police and the military, namely the Special Action Forces (Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales – FAES) of the national police and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana — FANB).
The decision to shore up government forces along the Venezuela-Colombia border came amid Guaidó’s announcement that the opposition was stocking warehouses with food stuffs and other aid at a collection site in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.
In videos posted on his Twitter account, Bernal echoed instructions handed down to him from Maduro himself.
“To guarantee Peace we are implementing a perfect plan with our men and women from #Táchira, trusting in the #FANB and in our Patriotic Love,” he wrote in a message accompanying one of the videos he tweeted.
Venezuelan soldiers have already started to block the aid deliveries…
The Violence in Colombia Has Not Stopped by Alexander Fattal - The Conversation / RealClearWorld
A deadly car bomb at a Bogotá police academy claimed by Colombia’s National Liberation Army, or ELN, is the latest sign that Colombia’s civil war is not over. President Ivan Duque called the January attack, which killed 21 military personnel and wounded 68, a “crazy terrorist act.”
The leftist ELN became Colombia’s largest guerrilla group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, disbanded following a peace agreement with the government in September 2016.
As I write in my new book on the counter-insurgency efforts leading up to the peace deal, there were already clear signs that neutralizing the FARC would not end Colombia’s 52-year armed conflict.
What Colombians call “el conflicto” – the conflict – was never a simple two-way fight of everyone versus the FARC. It was, and remains, a set of overlapping and interrelated conflicts involving the government, Marxist rebels, right-wing militias and drug cartels, staggered across the decades from 1964 to today…
CFR Backgrounder: Mexico’s Drug War by Brianna Lee, Danielle Renwick, and Rocio Cara Labrador - Council on Foreign Relations
Mexican authorities have been waging a war against drug trafficking organizations for more than a decade, but with limited success. Thousands of Mexicans, including politicians, students, and journalists, continue to die in the conflict every year. In 2018, homicides hit a new high at more than twenty-eight thousand; many were linked to drug cartels.
Successive U.S. administrations have partnered closely with Mexico in this fight, providing billions of dollars for Mexico to modernize its security forces, reform its judicial system, and make other investments. Washington has also sought to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States by bolstering security on its southern border, although a debate has flared over the utility of expanding the physical barrier there…