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Drug Warriors Gun Down Young Father (Opinion)

Location: 
AZ
United States
James Peron, President of the Moorfield Storey Institute, recounts the recent drug prohibition related death of a young husband, father, and Iraq veteran who was shot at 71 times by heavily armed men who then allegedly prevented medical assistance from being given until he was dead. The heavily armed men were from the Pima County Sheriff's Department. Another drug raid gone bad.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-peron/jose-guerena_b_863278.html

Mexico’s Congress Considers Changing Security Law In Attempt to Control Drug Prohibition Violence

Location: 
Mexico
With the current session of Mexico’s Congress scheduled to expire Friday, members of Mexico’s House of Deputies have less than a week to deliberate over extremely controversial changes to the country’s National Security Law that would give the President the power to deploy Mexico’s Armed Forces against broadly defined internal threats to Mexican national security. PT and Convergencia parties say that the 83-page initiative to change the law constitutes a threat to individual liberties and could create a state of exception in Mexico that would effectively put the country under military control. They remain deeply skeptical of proposed changes to the law, which advocate, among other things, the monitoring and recording of private communication for intelligence-gathering purposes. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch have drawn attention to frequent abuses by the Mexican military and contend that there is a widespread systemic failure to prosecute human rights violations in Mexican military courts.
Publication/Source: 
Latin America News Dispatch (NY)
URL: 
http://latindispatch.com/2011/04/27/mexicos-congress-considers-changing-security-law-to-control-drug-war-violence/

Mexico Drug War Update

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 36,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

The busts and arrests go on, but so does the violence. (Image via Wikimedia)
Tuesday, April 12

In Sinaloa, eleven people were found buried in a field near the town of Ahome. It is unclear when the dead -- nine males and two females -- were killed, or by whom.

Wednesday, April 13

In Ciudad Juarez, the bodies of four men who were last seen being kidnapped by members of a special police unit were discovered in a ravine just outside the city. Three police officers from the elite "Grupo Delta" have been arrested for the March 26 kidnapping. The four victims are all between 23 and 28 years old.

In Monterrey, six people were killed during a fire fight between the Army and a group of gunmen. Five of the dead were armed suspects and one was an uninvolved female motorist who was killed in the crossfire. Additionally, an eight-year old girl was wounded in the legs when she was hit by stray bullets during the incident, which began when soldiers gave chase to two SUVs full of armed men.

Thursday, April 14

In Ciudad Juarez, a state prosecutor was gunned down outside his home by heavily armed men. Marion Ramon Gonzalez was leaving his home at 8:20am when he was attacked by men carrying assault rifles who had arrived in three black vehicles.

In Ciudad Juarez, three children were killed when unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of their home. The mother escaped the blaze with her hair and clothing on fire.

Friday, April 15

In Veracruz, a police chief and two of his officers were killed after being ambushed by gunmen. Juan Moreno Lopez was the head of the inter-municipal police force for the Minatitlan-Cosoleacaque area. The other two officers were his bodyguards. These deaths bring to nine the number of police officers killed in the Veracruz area in under a month.

Saturday, April 16

In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexican marines captured a high-ranking Zeta who has been linked to the mass graves in the San Fernando area. Martin "Comandante Kilo" Estrada Luna was arrested along with five others during a raid. He has also been linked to the August 2010 murder of 72 migrants and is thought to be the Zeta commander responsible involved in drugs, extortion, and human trafficking activities in the area.

In Tepic, Nayarit, a man was found skinned and posed on a bridge in the city. This is the third case of someone being skinned in the last several weeks in Tepic. The victim -- who remains unidentified -- had had his hand cut off and left placed on his chest.

Sunday, April 17

In Acapulco, six men were discovered murdered in the popular resort area of Costa Azul. Two of the dead were discovered in a vehicle, and another two were discovered in a nearby alley. Two more were found not far away. A note left with the body indicated that the men had been killed by the Sinaloa Cartel.

In the nearby city of Chilancingo, a man was gunned down outside his home.

In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, the top security official for the state resigned. Former General Ubaldo Ayala Tinoco had previously threatened to resign if the state government did not begin providing police with better salaries. Recently, 16 police officers were arrested for allegedly being involved with the mass graves that are still being fully uncovered in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.



In Ciudad Juarez, 14 people were murdered in various incidents across the city. In one incident, a man was found dead after having been beaten to death with a stone. In another incident, a man -- showing signs of having been tortured -- was discovered in a pile of trash.



Tuesday, April 19

In Veracruz, ten gunmen were killed during a series of clashes with soldiers. The fighting began when soldiers on patrol in the Infonavit Rio Medio neighborhood came under fire. A second gun fight occurred after they chased suspects who had fled. One civilian was wounded in the arm by a stray bullet.

[Editor's Note: We have relied in the past on El Universal's weekly body count, but it has not been appearing recently. We thus suspect that our totals are undercounting the actual totals.]

Total Body Count for the Week: 218 (including the 145 so far exhumed in San Fernando)

Total Body Count for the Year: 2,209

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,849

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 37,058

Mexico

Mexicans Seeking Asylum Due to Drug Prohibition War Form Coalition in Texas

Location: 
TX
United States
The director of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Louie Gilot, said cases of Mexicans fleeing drug prohibition violence have risen significantly over the past two years and that the asylum seekers include former police officers, rights activists, journalists, business leaders and even government officials. Carlos Spector, an attorney, said the U.S. government is reluctant to grant political asylum to Mexican applicants because doing so means recognizing that aid from Washington is financing military abuses against the Mexican civilian population.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/03/16/mexican-asylum-seekers-form-oalition-texas/

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Targeting Rights Activists

Location: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
Hitmen are killing human rights workers across Ciudad Juárez -- the city in Mexico most affected by drug prohibition violence -- in brazen attacks that activists say authorities are unable and unwilling to halt.
Publication/Source: 
Calgary Herald (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Cartels+targeting+rights+activists/4382118/story.html

Washington State Medical Marijuana User Dies Without Transplant

Location: 
WA
United States
Timothy Garon, a musician who was denied a liver transplant because he used marijuana with medical approval under Washington state law to ease the symptoms of advanced hepatitis C, died. Dr. Brad Roter, the physician who authorized Garon to use medical marijuana to alleviate for nausea and abdominal pain and to stimulate his appetite, said he did not know it would be such a hurdle if Garon were to need a transplant.
Publication/Source: 
KBOI (ID)
URL: 
http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/117191348.html

Thai Government in Massive Campaign to Round Up Drug Users [FEATURE]

In a new wave of repression aimed at drug users, the government of Thailand has begun rounding up suspected "drug addicts" to be forced into "rehabilitation centers." That has health, human rights, and harm reduction groups expressing grave concerns, especially given previous Thai pogroms against drug users, like that in 2003, when tens of thousands were rounded up and more than 2,000 killed by police in summary executions.

Bangkok looks so modern, but some Thai drug policies are downright medieval. (Image via Wikimedia)
The official announcement from the National News Bureau of Thailand of the government's plans came only last week. "The Ministry of Interior has picked next week to get all drug addicts across Thailand clean," it said, with Deputy Permanent Secretary for Interior Surapong Pongtadsirikul as putting the number of untreated addicts at 30,000.

"During 20-27 February, 2011, drug abusers in Bangkok will be brought to the rehabilitation centers to get clean," the notice continued. "There will be those who are encouraged to receive treatment on their freewill and those who will be forced against their will. A rehabilitation camp will be open for addicts elsewhere in Thailand where a rehab center is scarce."

The announcement also said staff training would be carried out and a location for a "makeshift rehab center for drug addicts" will be selected. Chillingly, it added that "their names will be recorded in the database specifically designed for easy tracking and providing updates on their progress in the future."

The roundup has already begun in Bangkok, according to Karyn Kaplan of the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG). "Yes, people are being arrested right now," she said. "The police have quotas, they do this every few months, and this is just another excuse to round people up again. Even in our own small network of people who use drugs, people have been arrested, even workers at our harm reduction center."

While the Thai government officially embraces harm reduction principles -- it adopted harm reduction as a national strategy last fall -- it schizophrenically continues its crackdowns on drug users and sends them to "treatment centers" not worthy of the name.

"We don't call them treatment centers, because they aren't run by people who know how to treat people," said Kaplan. "They were originally set up because of prison overcrowding, but even though they have a policy that says drug users are patients, not criminals, they still use the police to sweep the streets and throw people into the system. But then the system says there is no room in prison, send them to the camps. The camps are in military bases and run by the military, and they aren't trained for that. The military is just housing them, and there are beatings and forced labor for no money. There is no due process," she said.

It is as if the Thai government's left hand doesn't know what its right hand is doing, said Kaplan. "The government at least pays lip service to harm reduction, but the Ministry of the Interior is not talking to the Narcotics Control Board, which sponsors the harm reduction policy," she said. "We have gotten unofficial statements from senior officials inside the Public Health Ministry saying they are going to speak with the board and the Interior Ministry about what Thailand might do more effectively."

In the mean time, the roundups continue.

The threat of the mass roundup of suspected drug users has led a coalition of Thai and international health, harm reduction, and human rights organizations to publicly air their fears that it will trample on human rights and could lead to the widespread abuses of drug users seen in other Thai anti-drug campaigns.

"These plans for mass detention and forced treatment raise considerable human rights concerns, especially given Thailand’s history of nationwide punitive and ineffective anti-drug campaigns," they said in an open letter to the Thai government. "There is no way for the government to implement a campaign to forcibly 'treat' tens of thousands of people who use drugs without widespread human rights abuses taking place."

Groups signing on to the letter include the TTAG, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the International Harm Reduction Program of the Open Society Institute, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD).

"The mandatory rounding up and detention of people who use illicit drugs for the purpose of enforced treatment is not only a violation of their human rights, it's a violation of common sense -- enforced detention doesn't work," said INPUD's Jude Byrne. "Never has, never will! Communities need to look to the reason people are using drugs. Stop the systemic violence against the poor, minorities, people of different sexual persuasion and the unemployed. Rounding up the most marginalized people in the community will do nothing except provide jobs for the police and the people who run the detention centers. It will also drive INPUD's community underground so they are not able to access harm reduction information or equipment where it is available. The transmission of HIV and Hep C among the injecting drug using community will soar, and that is the real crime, not the use of drugs."

"This crackdown flies in the face of Thailand’s 2002 policy, which states that people who use drugs should be treated as patients, not criminals. There is nothing therapeutic about rounding up thousands of drug users and forcing them into military boot camps that fail to provide appropriate services and support," said Paisan Suwannawong, TTAG executive director and co-founder of the Thai Drug Users' Network.

While the Thai government refers to "drug addicts," its plans appear to include any drug users. Under the current plan, "occasional" users will be detained for one week, "continuous" users for two weeks, and those showing signs of drug dependence for 6 1/2 weeks (45 days).

"There are many reasons to be worried," said IHRA executive director Rick Lines. "Due process guarantees have been thrown out the window. What is the legal basis for mass detention? There are numerous examples of how forced detention in the name of drug dependence 'treatment' can lead to human rights violations and breaches of accepted principles of medical ethics," he continued. "What is more, many who do not need any form of drug dependence treatment will be herded into detention centers. Where is the clinical assessment?" he asked.

The activists also expressed concern about the temporary detention centers that will be set up outside Bangkok. They feared they would be operated not by health workers, but by police or soldiers, they said.

"We are profoundly concerned that these centers may be run by public security forces such as the police or paramilitary civil-defense organizations" said Kaplan. "It is dangerous and extremely disheartening given recent progress made in the country on injecting drug use and HIV. This can only serve to undermine those efforts in the long term. The immediate concern, however, is for the safety and well-being of those targeted."

But the medium term goal is to persuade the Thai government to embrace not merely the rhetoric of harm reduction, but the practice. That is going to take continuing pressure on the government, and the United Nations needs to step up, said Kaplan.

"We need more high-level action to push the government over to harm reduction," she said. "The World Health Organization and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime don't listen to civil society, so we need governments to step up. It is very important and progressive that Thailand is talking harm reduction, but to actually do it, they need a lot of help."

Thailand

Call for Release of Moroccan Marijuana, Human Rights Activist

Last week, Moroccan human rights activist, denouncer of corruption, and marijuana legalization advocate Chakib El-Khayari began his third year in prison for "offending the Moroccan state." El-Khayari, president of the Human Rights Association of the Rif region in Morocco, has been jailed since February 17, 2009, and now, European drug reform activists and international human rights groups are calling for his release.

Chaikh El-Khayari (encod.org)
El-Khayari, who is also known for defending the rights of the Amazigh (Berber) people and African migrants passing through en route to Europe, aroused the ire of the Moroccan state for declaring to the press that the Moroccan military and police are collaborating in the trafficking of hashish to Europe. In 2008, he also took the path-breaking step of initiating a national debate on the legalization of industrial hemp and medical marijuana.

El-Khayari was arrested on February 17, 2009, and has been jailed ever since. He was convicted of "offending the Moroccan state" for his statements about the involvement of high-ranking officials in the police, the army, and the government in the hash trade. He was also convicted of violating Morocco's foreign exchange laws for depositing in a bank in Madrid a check from a Spanish newspaper for an article he had written.

In an open letter to Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) is calling for El Khayari's immediate release. It is also calling on activists to print out and sign the letter, sending copies to the king and to the Moroccan embassy in their countries.

"Nothing justifies the heavy sanction that has been applied to Chakib El-Khayari," the letter says. "It is a manifest act of repression that is contrary to the international instruments to protect human rights that were ratified by Morocco and in particular, the international agreement on civil and political rights between Morocco and the European Union. We denounce firmly the detention of Chakib El-Khayari and urge his inmediate and unconditional release."

It's not just drug reformers. Five months ago, Amnesty International called for El-Khayari's release, saying it considers him a prisoner of conscience, "solely detained for his anti-corruption statements and his human rights activities."

The call for El-Khayari's release comes as the Moroccan government teeters under the wave of popular unrest that is sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. Five people were killed during widespread protests seeking constitutional reform Sunday.

Morocco

Drug Trafficking Organizations Also Involved in Sex Trade, Expert Says

Location: 
Mexico
The head of a company that provides security for American citizens traveling in Mexico says powerful drug trafficking organizations are branching out into the $40-billion-a-year sex trafficking industry. They kidnap children and young people, demand ransom, but in many cases never return the victims, according to Brad Barker with Halo Security. He said a family might pay $100,000 ransom, but the kidnap victim can be worth much more in the sex market. "This person can be held in captivity, they can be filmed doing sex acts, they can be sold on the Internet throughout the world and make 10 times that amount of money. So why would they return the person to their family?"
Publication/Source: 
KTAR (AZ)
URL: 
http://ktar.com/category/local-news-articles/20110217/Expert:-Drug-cartels-also-involved-in-sex-trafficking/

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate Detained on a Non-Violent Marijuana Charge (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011

CONTACT: ACLU [1] Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; media@aclu.org [2] Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; shernandez@aclu-sc.org

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating Of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate By Sheriff’s Deputies

Attack Underscores Need For Systemic Reform And Decrease In Jail’s Population

LOS ANGELES - February 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) today condemned a recent brutal beating by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies of a detainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the county jail system.

The violent attack January 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails.

“We believe Mr. Parker’s beating is not an isolated incident,” said Hector Villagra, incoming Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “Rather, it highlights the rampant violence that continues to plague the county’s jails, and demands court intervention to protect detainees from brutal attacks and retaliation. That the ACLU/SC monitor witnessed a brutal attack in plain sight is alarming and can only lead us to conclude detainees are subject to even greater cruelty when no one is looking.”

The beating was made public Monday in a sworn statement submitted in federal court by Lim, who watched through a glass window as deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered Parker while he was lying motionless on the floor.

“Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag,” Lim says in her statement. “I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”

Lim hit the glass divider hoping to get the deputies’ attention and stop the attack, but the officers continued to punch and taser Parker.

“Mr. Parker was not fighting with the deputies,” Lim says in her statement, adding he “was not trying to kick, hit or otherwise fight with the deputies.”

Yet deputies continued to order him to “stop resisting” and “stop fighting,” while simultaneously punching and kneeing his limp body repeatedly and tasering him multiple times.

The deputies then wrote in a jail log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, in complete contradiction to what the ACLU witnessed.

“This kind of brutal beating is unacceptable,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “We are also very concerned that shortly after the beating the sheriff’s department issued a log report contradicting what witnesses, including our monitor, saw. The report claims Parker was resisting and fighting with deputies. That is blatantly false.”

Parker now faces charges for allegedly assaulting the very deputies who beat him.

Lim’s statement, along with that of another witness to the beating, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion the ACLU filed in November seeking a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

The ACLU first sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff on behalf of all detainees in the county’s jail system in 1975, charging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many remedial orders have been issued over the years in the case, Rutherford v. Block. But the systemic problems plaguing the system have recently become so acute the ACLU in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson to order a new trial in the case based on “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse and inmate suicides” at Men’s Central Jail, another of the system’s facilities. The ACLU contends the problems plaguing the jail system can only be fixed by finding alternatives to incarceration like drug treatment and community-based programs for the low-level, non-violent offenders and detainees with serious mental illnesses that comprise the vast majority of the system’s population, and seeks to prove the jail’s population can be safely, rapidly and radically reduced with existing resources and at great savings to county taxpayers.

A report released by the ACLU in September painted a stark picture of unacceptable levels of violence in the jails, including reports of deputies beating handcuffed detainees, injuring some so badly that they ended up in intensive care. The report also showed retaliation against inmates to be an acute problem. Several prisoners have been severely punished for meeting with representatives of the ACLU, which is the court-appointed monitor of conditions inside L.A.'s county jails.

“The reign of terror we’re uncovering in the Los Angeles County jails is unmatched by any of the hyper-violent prisons and jails across the country we have investigated,” said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “The brutality there is so blatant and routine that the deputies carried out a vicious beating in full view of a court-appointed monitor. The court needs to take immediate action to ensure the protection of prisoners.”

A copy of the ACLU’s sworn statement, as well as that of the beating’s other witness, is available online at:

http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/declarations-esther-lim-and-christopher-brown-regarding-january-24-2011-beating-twi[4]

###

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

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