Even With ‘El Chapo’ Away, Sinaloa Cartel Remains Mexico’s Top Crime Group

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Photo: Elizabeth Williams/AP

The upcoming trial of Mexico’s former top drug kingpin El Chapo in the United States is being hailed as a major win against organized crime, but has the arrest really helped weaken one of the most powerful cartels in the region? Evidence suggests it hasn’t.

The trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo” — the former head of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization, the Sinaloa Cartel — is scheduled to begin on November 5 in a Brooklyn courthouse in New York state.

US prosecutors charged the former kingpin in a 17-count indictment with leading a criminal enterprise over the span of some 20 years, conspiring to traffic cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana internationally, in addition to conspiring to commit several murders of individuals that “posed a threat” to the Sinaloa Cartel, among other criminal charges. Six of the drug-related charges have since been dropped in an effort to “optimize” the case and “accelerate” its resolution, according to El Universal.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

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Canada Marijuana Legalization Puts Spotlight on LatAm Drug Policy

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How will marijuana legalization in Canada impact Latin America’s black market and international drug policy? (Photo: Ted S. Warren – AP)

Recreational marijuana in Canada is now officially legal, and while the change is unlikely to have a significant impact on Latin America’s black market, it could trigger a shift towards more progressive international drug policies.

On October 17, Canada became the largest country in the world to fully legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

Lawmakers in the North American nation passed in June 2018 Bill-C45 before marijuana legalization officially went into effect this October. Canada is the second country in the region to legalize recreational marijuana consumption after Uruguay became the first to do so in December 2013 before beginning legal sales in December 2017. Several US states have also legalized marijuana despite federal prohibition and other countries in the region are currently debating proposals to allow for medicinal use or decriminalize personal use.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Canada

After the bill was passed, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement that it regretted Canada’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use as it “undermines the international legal drug control framework.”

On the other hand, Canada Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the decision a “historic milestone” in a June tweet.

“This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime,” she added.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

What’s Behind El Salvador’s Recent Drop in Homicides?

In September, homicides in El Salvador declined to levels that the Central American nation hasn’t seen since a truce was agreed upon between the country’s two most powerful gangs in 2012, but questions remain as to what is driving the decrease in violence.

Authorities in El Salvador recorded 192 homicides in September 2018, 57 percent less than the 442 homicides recorded in the same period the previous year, National Civil Police (Policia Nacional Civil – PNC) Chief Howard Cotto said in an October 1 tweet.

September was the only month to close with less than 200 homicides since the end of a controversial truce made between the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs in 2012, which led to a temporarily dramatic fall in homicides at the time, La Prensa Gráfica reported. The truce ended after a little more than two years in 2014 after President Salvador Sánchez Cerén refused to continue negotiations with the gangs and instead returned some of their leaders to a maximum security prison.

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(Graphic courtesy of La Prensa Gráfica)

Homicide rates in the country have been relatively stable in 2018, but the 2,560 homicides recorded between January and September marked an 11 percent decrease from the 2,889 homicides that were recorded during the same time period in 2017, according to Cotto.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Ayotzinapa: What Four Years of Impunity Say About Security In Mexico

The unsolved disappearance of 43 students from a rural teachers college in Mexico four years ago put the level of collusion between the country’s organized crime groups and security forces on stark display, but questions remain as to whether the incoming administration will be able to tackle it.

On the evening of September 26, 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College disappeared in the city of Iguala in the western state of Guerrero.

A few months later, in January 2015, the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said that police in Iguala had arrested the students and handed them over to a local crime group known as the Guerrero Unidos. One of the group’s leaders later testified that he ordered the students to be killed and their bodies later burned in a trash dump in the nearby town of Cocula, a version of events that investigations conducted by independent experts have cast serious doubt on.

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Photo: Diego Simón / Cuartoscuro.com

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Colombia Cocaine Production Breaks New Record Levels: UNODC Report

Cocaine production in Colombia broke new records in 2017, ushering in a new era of criminal violence among the many armed actors vying to control the lucrative industry as criminal dynamics continue to take shape after the departure of the FARC rebels.

Annual cocaine production in Colombia jumped 31 percent from a previous record of 1,053 metric tons in 2016 to 1,379 in 2017 and the number of hectares under coca cultivation rose 17 percent from 146,000 hectares in 2016 to 171,000 in 2017, according to illicit crop monitoring data published September 19 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (en español).

Nicaragua Becoming Regional Safe Haven for LatAm Fugitives

The recent granting of political asylum in Nicaragua to a fugitive from Guatemala is the latest sign that the Central American nation is becoming a regional safe haven for wanted criminals, which could be an attempt to undermine the region’s efforts to address crime and widespread corruption.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (en español).

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Are Mexico President-Elect’s Security Proposals Wishful Thinking?

Mexico President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has set himself the task of shifting the country’s heavy-handed, militarized security policies against organized crime to more holistic solutions. But how realistic are his proposals?

López Obrador, who will take power on December 1, promised change to a disheartened electorate that has suffered more than a decade of militarization and brutal violence during the so-called “war on drugs,” which has claimed more than 200,000 lives since it began in 2006.

From rooting out endemic corruption to scaling back militarization, InSight Crime ranked López Obrador’s five main security proposals by their likelihood to succeed, with the first being the most promising.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (en español).

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