Things That Matter

Colombia Is Thinking About Legalizing and Subsidizing Its Immense Cocaine Industry

Photo: CARLOS JULIO MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

The idea of the “War on Drugs” is shifting globally. Not only did America pass a record amount of legislation this past election regarding legalizing marijuana (and all drugs completely in Oregon), but other countries are taking steps to decriminalize drugs as well.

The most surprising country to take steps towards decriminalizing drugs is Colombia. Everyone knows that Colombia has a serious problem with cocaine trafficking and drug cartels. Colombia is estimated to export 90% of the world’s cocaine supply. And unfortunaely, Colombia decades-long War on Drugs is failing.

That’s why some politicians are suggesting that Colombia legalizes immense cocaine industry.

One politician in particular, Senator Iván Marulanda, is spearheading this fight. In an interview with Vice, Marulanda explained the reasoning behind his push for cocaine legalization as well as an outline of how Colombia can put the plan into action.

Marulanda is putting forward a bill that will legalize coca farming. The Colombian government would, in turn, completely buy the country’s entire stock of coca leaves. Per Marulanda, the state would supply the coca leaves to indigenous communities who have an ancestral relationship with the plant. These communities would create “foods, baking flour, medicinal products and drinks like tea”.

But above all: the state would produce cocaine and supply it to cocaine users.

The plan is ambitious, but Marulanda believes it could change everything for Colombia–a country that has been wracked by drug-related violence and deaths for decades.

“In Colombia, the personal consumption of cocaine is legal. It’s legal because of a court ruling that recognizes personal consumption as a human right,” Marulanda explained to Vice. “However, what we don’t have is the legal cocaine to meet that demand. Instead, we have consumers who are in contact with organized crime groups who supply them cocaine in local drug markets. It’s poor quality cocaine and it’s often mixed with unregulated substances. It’s everywhere: in our schools, in universities, in parks and bars. It’s in all these public spaces.”

Marulanda’s bill will attempt to legalize cocaine for medicinal purposes only. Users would go to their doctor for a prescription–mostly for pain-relief purposes.

Marulanda was also careful to outline the economic benefits of legalizing the cocaine industry in Colombia.

According to the senator, Colombia spends $1 billion annually trying to eradicate drugs from their country. In contrast, buying up all the coca leaves that coca farmers produce would only cost $680 million. Marulanda also insists that the farmers could “push the price up if they need to.”

Marulanda explained that the legalization of cocaine could diminish drug-related violence that is linked to cartels, but it could put a damper on the rampant deforestation that coca farmers wreak on Colombia’s land.

Because of the stigma of coca leave farming, coca farmers are forced to live in the shadows. “Usually, these farm families end up displacing themselves, deforesting new areas, and re-planting coca while they’re running from the authorities,” Marulanda explained. “Second, Colombia is destroying around 300,000 hectares of forest per year. It’s estimated that coca-growing families are responsible for 25 percent of that annual deforestation.”

The bottom line is: the old-school methods behind the “War on Drugs” are failing.

Marulanda believes that Colombia–as well as other countries–must reevaluate the way they’ve been approaching drug regulation.

“We’ve been going 40 years with a policy that costs billions of U.S. dollars with zero success and so much cost and destruction,” Marulanda said. “Let’s try out this other policy. Because something that hasn’t worked in the last 40 years is something that’s just not going to work.”

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US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Things That Matter

US Prosecutors Allege That Honduran President Hernández Said He Wanted to ‘Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos’

Photo via Getty

They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, that saying happens to be true. New reports from federal prosecutors in New York have come out that implicate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in drug trafficking, embezzlement, and fraud.

For years, Honduras and the United States have publicly touted themselves as partners in global the war on drugs. But it seems that, privately, President Hernández felt differently.

Prosecutors allege that Hernández said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos”.

Federal prosecutors say that Hernández “said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The allegations against President Hernández are part of a larger drug trafficking case prosecutors have against, Geovanny Fuentes, a prolific Honduran trafficker whom authorities arrested in Miami.

Fuentes alleges that President Hernandez accepted bribes in exchange for protecting a cocaine laboratory and drug shipments headed towards the U.S. They say President Juan Orlando Hernández used his nation’s armed forces to protect huge shipments of cocaine in exchange for hefty bribes.

The case also alleges that Hernandez funneled aid money from the U.S. to non-governmental organizations.

The Honduran president isn’t explicitly named in the documents, but is instead referred to as “co-conspirator 4”. But the documents reference his political position as well as his relationship to his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, who was also convicted of drug smuggling in 2019.

It’s worth mentioning that the 2019 case against Hernández’s brother also named President Hernández as a co-conspirator. That case alleged that President Hernández had accepted approximately $1 million in bribes from El Chapo.

President Hernández is denying the allegations and claiming that they are retaliations by cartel lords for his hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Recently, his office tweeted out: “The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences.”

But at home, Hondurans seemed to have lost faith in their president. In fact, many are suspicious of his shady connections and seemingly never-ending scandals. Some Hondurans are reportedly worried that President Hernández may try to “illegally extend” his time in office in order to avoid prosecution by the United States”.

As of now, the prospects of him being prosecuted by the Trump administration are dubious at best.

Hernández and Trump have historically had a cozy relationship based on how fervently the Honduran president supported Trump’s strict immigration policies.

“[Indictment] will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration,” said InSight Crime senior investigator Hector Silva to Vice.

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In Peru, Santa And His Elves Are Helping Bust Drug Dealers And Are Going Viral In The Process

Things That Matter

In Peru, Santa And His Elves Are Helping Bust Drug Dealers And Are Going Viral In The Process

AmericasTV / YouTube

Around this time of year, you can imagine just how busy Santa Claus and his team of elves are. I mean, they’re preparing for a one-night trip around the world to deliver gifts to each of the planet’s 2.2 billion kids. How they do it is beyond me…

Well, now it appears that Santa and his elves even had some extra time to help bust drug cartels in Peru!

Cops are dressing up as Christmas favorites to help bust drug dealers.

With the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, some of Peru’s cops have donned a new but familiar disguise: Papa Noel, or Santa Claus. The cops disguised as Santa Claus and his elf were not exactly spreading cheer on a sleigh when they jumped out of an undercover van and broke down the door of a man who made the naughty list.

In a police video released online, an officer dressed as Santa Claus can be seen smashing through a door with a sledgehammer, conducting a search of a home, and leading drug suspects out in handcuffs.

“We are the police! We are the green squad! This is an anti-drug operation!” one of the agents was captured on video yelling at the suspect in the Villa El Salvador district of Lima.

“We are able to imitate any type of character,” Peru National Police Col. Jorge Angulo told America TV. “This is a special character. We have had the opportunity to raid a home for the issue of drug sales.”

During that raid, Peruvian police arrested four suspects and seized 4,564 packets of cocaine hidden in three houses. “The detainees were left with speechless upon seeing Santa Claus,” news site Metro Peru reported.

The best gift we can give is a little security to the people,” Angulo said.

The police force involved often dresses up in disguise to help bust criminals.

A special division of Lima’s police force has been known to dress as street sweepers, vendors, or as homeless people in order to patrol its territory and detect criminal activity.

Crime, particularly drug-related crime, is an issue of special concern in Lima and in Peru more broadly. Assaults and shootings have taken place in restaurants, and there have been killings of merchants and workers in broad daylight, all of which has contributed to a sense of insecurity, according to La Prensa.

Lima and the port city of Callao, which is just west of the Peruvian capital, have seen high levels of drug-related crime, as gangs compete for influence of the trafficking in the country that has become the second-largest producer of cocaine, behind Colombia, as well as a hub for counterfeiting and forgery.

Though not everyone supports the raids since police in the country have been accused of illegal activity.

Just as has been the case in the U.S. and Mexico, police in Peru are coming under increased scrutiny for alleged illegal activity. There have been numerous reports that members of the police forces have formed “death squads” and that successful operations have been staged to intimidate and harass citizens.

High levels of official complicity and of corruption within the government and law enforcement have long shielded police members involved in criminal activity, and the prevalence of such complicity seems likely to undercut some recent laws aimed at combating organized crime and official impunity.

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