Tag Archives | Cocaine

Explore the Ruins of Pablo Escobar’s Island Estate

Via Environmental Graffiti:

Ride along with urban explorer Foantje to the former island estate of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. In ruins now, Escobar’s expansive property must have been grand in its heyday.

Escobar was arguably the most infamous of Colombia’s drug lords. At the height of his power, he controlled over 80 percent of the cocaine trade and had a personal net worth of over $3 billion. While the drug lord carefully cultivated a “Robin Hood” image among the citizens of Medellín by building churches, schools and soccer fields, he was in reality a bloodthirsty, ruthless man who murdered his rivals and any law enforcement officials he couldn’t bribe. After Escobar’s assassination of a presidential candidate, Colombian officials negotiated his surrender and imprisonment. However, this was no regular prison: It was built specifically for Escobar, and had all of the amenities of a luxury resort. When public outcry grew too much to ignore, it was decided that he would be moved to a regular prison.… Read the rest

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Marijuana Could Kill Your Balls, Cocaine May Save Them

Picture: Mansueto77 (PD)

Any time a new study comes out claiming this substance or that substance, whether it’s food, liquid or drug, is harmful or beneficial to one’s health, look on it with suspicion. Ask the question: Cui bono (“Who benefits?”). One such study comes from USC researchers, who claim to have “found a link between recreational marijuana use and an increased risk of developing subtypes of testicular cancer that tend to carry a somewhat worse prognosis.”

Who is funding the study at USC? The country’s national police lobby? The prison-industrial complex? The pharmaceutical industry? The alcohol and tobacco lobbies? Right-wing Christian forces who want everyone to have a miserable and boring Earthly existence? Is it any surprise that this study comes out just as the nation is seriously beginning to consider ending marijuana prohibition?

Keep in mind what former National Cancer Institute Director Samuel Broder said: “The NCI has become what amounts to a government pharmaceutical company.” And, as detailed in a Los Angeles Times article, Dr.… Read the rest

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US Drug Czar Woefully Out of Touch With Reality

Picture: Public Domain

At the end of July, US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske announced that in the potemkin villages he visits, it looks like the War on Drugs is working. As the Tico Times Reports:

[Kerlikowske] The drug czar, who has more than 37 years of law enforcement under his belt – including stints as police chief in Seattle (Washington), Buffalo (New York) and various cities in Florida – said “the security threat Colombia and the United States faced in 1999 is gone, and it has been accomplished without offsetting those results elsewhere. These lessons provide a model for dealing with challenges throughout the world, particularly in Central America.”

The knowledge that the threat from cartel violence is over in Bogota and that the FARC is severely weakened in the jungles of Peru and Bolivia must be great comfort to the dozens murdered in the two weeks since he made that statement.… Read the rest

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Mexican Official Says CIA Manages Drug Trade; Doesn’t Want it to End

From Al Jazeera:

A spokesman for the Mexican state of Chihuahua has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in diplomatic circles for his comments to Al Jazeera regarding the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s role in the drug trade:

“It’s like pest control companies, they only control,” Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera last month at his office in Juarez. “If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs.”

Read More about Chihuahua and the CIA at Al Jazeera.

Accusations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking has been around for decades. Famously, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb wrote a series of articles detailing connections between the CIA, Nicaraguan rebels and the crack cocaine epidemic of the late eighties. A collection of the articles were later published as the 1999 book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.… Read the rest

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Colombia To Legalize Marijuana And Cocaine

 South America continues to lead the way in forging a more enlightened approach? Drug trafficking will remain criminal, but citizens will be allowed to grow their own. Via the Global Post:

Colombia has decriminalized cocaine and marijuana, saying that people cannot be jailed for possessing the drugs for personal use. Anyone caught with less 20 grams of marijuana or one gram of cocaine for personal use will not be prosecuted or detained, but could be required to receive treatment, depending on their level of intoxication.

Colombia is also moving toward legalizing drug crops. The country’s House of Representatives in May passed the first draft of a bill that would decriminalize growing illegal drug plants, allowing residents to grow coca plants, marijuana plants and opium poppies. But representative Hugo Velasquez Jaramillo was quick to note that although the plants would be legalized, “the processing and trafficking of drugs would remain subject to criminal sentencing.”

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Western Banks ‘Reaping Billions From Colombian Cocaine Trade’

Reports Ed Vulliamy in the Guardian:

The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich “consuming” countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn “producing” nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.

The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.

“The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on ‘producing’ nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs,” said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria. 

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The New Cocaine Trade

Coca leaf in Bolivia. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr (CC)

Coca leaf in Bolivia. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr (CC)

John Lyons reports on some seismic shifts in where cocaine is produced, for the Wall Street Journal:

In the dusty town of Villa Tunari in Bolivia’s tropical coca-growing region, farmers used to barricade their roads against U.S.-backed drug police sent to prevent their leafy crop from becoming cocaine. These days, the police are gone, the coca is plentiful and locals close off roads for multiday block parties—not rumbles with law enforcement.

“Today, we don’t have these conflicts, not one death, not one wounded, not one jailed,” said Leonilda Zurita, a longtime coca-grower leader who is now a Bolivian senator, a day after a 13-piece Latin band wrapped up a boozy festival in town.

The cause for celebration is a fundamental shift in the cocaine trade that is complicating U.S. efforts to fight it. Once concentrated in Colombia, a close U.S. ally in combating drugs, the cocaine business is migrating to nations such as Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, where populist leaders are either ambivalent about cooperating with U.S.

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The World’s First Cocaine Bar

Route-36-cocaine-lounge-001Backpacking tourists flock to La Paz, Bolivia’s Route 36 for long nights of cocaine and Jenga. Is this what your neighborhood dive bar would look like if hard drugs were legalized? The Guardian writes:

The waiter arrives at the table, lowers the tray and places an empty black CD case in the middle of the table. Next to the CD case are two straws and two little black packets. He is so casual he might as well be delivering a sandwich and fries. And he has seen it all.

La Paz, Bolivia, at 3,900m above sea level – an altitude where even two flights of stairs makes your heart race like a hummingbird – is home to the most celebrated bar in all of South America: Route 36, the world’s first cocaine lounge. I sit back to take in the scene – table after table of chatty young backpackers, many of whom are taking a gap year, awaiting a new job or simply escaping the northern hemisphere for the delights of South America, which, for many it seems, include cocaine.

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Nicotine Primes Brain for Cocaine Use

Man SniffingVia ScienceDaily:

Cigarettes and alcohol serve as gateway drugs, which people use before progressing to the use of marijuana and then to cocaine and other illicit substances; this progression is called the “gateway sequence” of drug use. An article in Science Translational Medicine by study author Denise Kandel, PhD, of the Mailman School of Public Health; and Amir Levine, MD; Eric Kandel, MD; and colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center provides the first molecular explanation for the gateway sequence. They show that nicotine causes specific changes in the brain that make it more vulnerable to cocaine addiction ― a discovery made by using a novel mouse model.

Alternate orders of exposure to nicotine and cocaine were examined. The authors found that pretreatment with nicotine greatly alters the response to cocaine in terms of addiction-related behavior and synaptic plasticity (changes in synaptic strength) in the striatum, a brain region critical for addiction-related rewards.

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