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Drug Dealing Gangs Fight to Control Colombia-Venezuela Border

By: Julián Villabona Galarza - Dec 8, 2016, 6:02 pm
The Catatumbo region near Cucuta has turned into a focal point for coca cultivation and drug trafficking.
The Catatumbo region near Cucuta has turned into a focal point for coca cultivation and drug trafficking (YouTube).

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The security situation in Cúcuta, a Colombian city on the border with Venezuela, has greatly deteriorated due to the presence of criminal gangs known as “Los Rastrojos” and the “Clan del Golfo”, which seek to take control of drug trafficking routes, as well as smuggling of fuel and meat.

The problem with such criminal gangs is compounded by the presence of the ELN guerrillas who continue to have a significant presence on the border, which has led to increased crime and murder. The situation has greatly worried local and national authorities, as well as various community groups, who have called attention to the dire situation.

According to official police statistics, through November of this year, 277 murders have occurred in this region of the country, equivalent to a 44% increase in comparison with the previous year, in which 195 deaths were reported.

According to police commander Cristian Escobar, in statements made to the newspaper El Tiempo, a large number of these murders are related to members of these criminal organizations. It is estimated that 33% of these murder victims are, in fact, members of criminal gangs.

William Canizares, director of Fundación Progresar, told the media that the problem of increased violence could be attributed to the rise in coca cultivation in the Catatumbo region. It is estimated that there were 11,656 hectares under coca cultivation, according to the Integrated System of Illicit Crop Monitoring, by the end of last year.

In addition, Colombian authorities blame the influx of Venezuelan delinquents, who have been participating in illegal activities such as theft, robbery, and extortion. In addition, they complain that there has been little support from Venezuela to improve the situation.

Cucuta, Colombia’s sixth largest city, is perched on the Venezuelan border, and has long been a focal point for drug trafficking and smuggling.

Source: El Tiempo

Julián Villabona Galarza Julián Villabona Galarza

Julián is a reporter with the PanAm Post with studies in Politics and International Relations from the University Sergio Arboleda in Colombia. Follow him: @julianvillabona.

Mexican Cartels Pose Greatest Threat to United States

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Dec 8, 2016, 4:55 pm
Mexican cartels continue to pose a significant threat to

Español The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has issued a report called "Estimation of the National Drug Threat 2016" reaffirming the operation of six drug cartels in Mexico. The federal agency, along with others, has detected drug trafficking by the Juarez Cartel, Gulf Cartel, New Generation Jalisco Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas and Beltrán Leyva Cartel. Read More: Mexican Officials Want to Crack Down on TV Shows that Glamorize Drug Cartels Read More: A New Generation of Drug Cartels is Awakening in Mexico "Mexican cartels remain the main threat. No other group has currently positioned itself to challenge them in the United States. They maintain influence in large portions of Mexican territory that are used for the cultivation, production, importation, and transportation of illicit drugs," the document describes. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); The American cities where these organizations chiefly operate are Chicago, Boston, Pittsburg, San Diego, Phoenix, New York, and Merrillville (Indiana). The US drug landscape has changed in the last decade according to the DEA; with the greatest impact generated by the consumption of illicit substances including heroin and fentanyl, as well as abuse of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and methamphetamine use. "The results we are seeing include thousands of people dead, missing, or executed; use of torture as a means of police investigation, corruption within the army. The breakdown of the national defense system of those countries that participate in anti-drug efforts. A total and absolute failure," said Francisco Gallardo, a retired Mexican general. According to the DEA, Mexican cartels form alliances with Americans of Mexican origins, but who are not US citizens. Such individuals endeavor to maintain a low profile. "The United States has largely been spared much of the violence generated by drug-related assassins," the report said. But in Mexico the situation is very different since the wave of violence that began with former President Felipe Calderón resulted in 122,000 homicides between 2006 and 2012. In two years of Enrique Peña Nieto's government, there have already been 63,835 murders according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi). "With regard to counternarcotics strategies, the war really expands toward Mexico. Mexico has pursued counternarcotics strategies that are totally unsuccessful. Why? Because the reality is that drug use and drug trafficking in the United States has not gone down," said Guadalupe Cabrera-Correa, a professor at the University of Texas. Although the impact of drug addiction on public health is high, it has not been enough for the United States government to push for an international strategy that does not focus solely on national security. According to the DEA report, in the United States between 2007 and 2014, 40,912 people died from heroin poisoning, while 39,618 died from cocaine use. "It has not been seen as a public health problem but as a security issue, and that same strategy has spread to other parts of the hemisphere. This kind of collaboration has expanded to other countries through Plan Colombia, Plan Mérida, and others in Central America. And the result is that neither consumption nor trafficking has been diminished," said Cabrera-Correa. Meanwhile in Mexico, during the current year, 713,963 students were found to be addicted and in need of some type of intervention, according to information from a survey conducted by Manuel Mondragón from the National Council Against Addictions. Source: Sin Embargo

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