Thursday, April 28, 2011


Like an out of control forest-fire, the Mexican government seems only concerned with putting out those blazes that raise the most attention, willing to leave the rest of the forest to burn. For example, everyone seems to be aware of (and the government responding to) the 183 bodies found in San Fernando, Tamaulipas (“Bodies in mass graves now total 183, Mexican AG says” despite the rising body count from the narcofosas in the city of Durango, with the recent discovery of 7 more corpses, raising the total to 103 (“Suman 103 cuerpos exhumados en Durango” Even though the bodies keep piling up in this city, Durango is not the focus of the media nor of politicians, it seems to be just a footnote (could this be due to the fact that this is the rumored nexus of the Sinaloa cartel as well as the hideout of Joaquín, “El Chapo” Guzmán?). Some communities, however are not willing to settle for this, the lack the lack of security, and thus are forming vigilante groups to protect their homes, businesses and populace. This is not news, as I noted earlier in my blog (“Rising Costs” But what is new is that vigilantism is no longer a secret (or an open secret) as warnings are now displayed publicly on walls and buildings throughout cites such as those in Acolman, Mexico (“Se organizan vecinos en contra de la delincuencia: Pobladores alertan a los presuntos delincuentes que tomarán la justicia en sus manos” for miscreants to fear “the people’s justice”.  For the inhabitants of Acolman the debate over security and the “rule of law”, that is occurring in the Mexican senate (“Senado aprueba reforma política”, is just empty rhetoric, and instead they are acting on their own to protect themselves because they know that the government will not, and in many cases cannot, protect them.

For a long time criminals have known that the security forces of Mexico are impotent, but now so does everyone else, the only tangible result from President Calderón’s war on drugs.

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

Follow on Twitter:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The politics of the drug war

During the 1992 US presidential election, it was a big deal when Bill Clinton admitted that he had tried marijuana once or twice, but never inhaled. However, this failed to trigger a serious discussion about drug policy.

Last week, former Governor Gary Johnson (R - New Mexico) announced that he was running for President. Johnson is not ashamed to admit that he used marijuana in his youth or that he used it medicinally within the last few years. He is a vocal proponent of legalizing marijuana. He does not support legalizing "hard" drugs, but does favor treating addiction to them as a health, not a criminal justice, problem.

Congressman Ron Paul (R - Texas) may also make another attempt for the Republican nomination in '12. Paul is completely opposed to the war on drugs, especially on the Federal level.

Maybe I am just overly optimistic, but it certainly seems like we are making progress.

I should note that nothing in this post should be seen as an endorsement of Johnson or Paul or the Republican party. I would welcome more Democrats stepping up and speaking out against the drug war as well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Descending through Dante´s Circles

The level of brutality has now transcended a new low, two levels really. The first level: children, some less than a year old, are now being directly targeted by the narcos in their killing sprees. The latest news reports has assassins deliberately targeting babies and toddlers, as well as their parent(s), or in lieu of, if the parent(s) cannot be found ( From this same Washington Post article: “competing criminal groups appear to be killing children to terrorize the population or prove to rivals that their savagery is boundless”.

This “savagery is boundless” statement brings us to the other transcended level: rival gangs are now skinning their opponents alive (“desollado vivos”) before killing them and then posing the corpses in macabre, grotesque positions, a new trend to shock the public and to humiliate the victims, even in death. The first reported case was of two victims, their bodies discovered in Tepic, Nayarit and involved leaving their faces beside the skinned bodies ( and then, a week later another body in the same city of Tepic, found on a public overpass ( In both cases, evidence points to the victims being tortured first and then skinned alive with their corpses dressed in their clothes and displayed publicly (this is reminiscent of the face that was sewn to a soccer ball and left in a soccer field for all to see -- The narcos, in their bloodlust, if not going for quantity (see Tamaulipas for the 145 bodies discovered in mass graves-- are going for "quality" (desollado).

As a matter of record, the count of those killed in Calderón’s Drug War, as of April 15 is at 38,272 (

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

Follow on Twitter:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heightened Sense

This appears to be a new drug policy blog and I think fans of LEAP will really enjoy it. It's called Heightened Sense. It's written by journalist Christopher White.

Update: As Christopher pointed out in his comment, I forgot the actual link to his blog, which I have now added. Thanks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mando Único and mass graves

On April 10 there was an article concerning “mando único” or single command, a proposal by the head of the Federal Police, Genaro García Luna, to absorb all the municipal police agencies into state agencies ( thereby creating 32 police agencies rather than the 1600+ agencies that currently exist. The municipal police agencies are widely considered to be the most corrupt, inept and untrained (a direct result of limited funding and no oversight mechanisms). García Luna had originally proposed merging all agencies (both state and municipal) into a single, Federal Police force (such as exists in the Dominican Republic), under his command, but the politicians (both federal, state and municipal) did not trust his proposal as nothing more than a power grab. However, the question of whether or not to have a single police agency in order to address corruption, is, in one sense, a red herring. Police officers and police agencies represent their communities, and in most respects, if the police are corrupt, the community's movers and shakers are as well. Thus, the impetus to fight corruption by merging the municipal police into a “single command” at the state level will only bring resentment at outside interference into local matters while ignoring the root causes. In order to combat corruption the federal government must focus its energies on such issues as poverty, lack of proper funding for infrastructure, public goods which are inadequately funded (such as schools, community centers and parks, as well  as access to clean water) and the elimination of nepotism and cronyism (a disease that afflicts the President most direly).

While the politicians debate the issue of “mando único” Rome (Mexico) is burning. Within the last 2 weeks there have been numerous discoveries of mass graves, “narcofosas”, in the state of Tamaulipas, with the latest discovery putting the body count at 126 (Van 126 cadáveres hallados en fosas - El Universal - México). But the count is much higher than that as there are other mass graves being discovered in Sinaloa ( with 13 bodies and Sonora ( with 5 more victims, unearthed at the same time as those in Tamaulipas. Thus, the overall count for the last two weeks is now at 144. Another one of Mexico´s national newspapers “Excelsior” reported yesterday that Mexican authorities have discovered 334 bodies in mass graves since 2010 (, although they did not include the newly found 10 bodies so the count is actually at 344 bodies.

Unfortunately, these discoveries of the last 2 weeks is not surprising considering the wholesale bloodletting that has been occurring in Mexico, as well as the high number of people reported missing (disappearances). As I previously mentioned in a posting last year, (Killings and marriage), there has to be many more mass graves scattered around the country and the current count of 38,230 people killed (Narco-killings) is only the bare minimum estimate of the murder victims since President Calderón initiated his war in December 2006.

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

Follow on Twitter:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SB 1458 update

It passed the House finance committee with amendments on Tuesday, 13-3-1 (the no votes were: Tokioka, Marumoto and Ward, with Coffman excused). The bill was given 48 hour notice on Thursday, so I think the vote in the full House is Tuesday.

I looked on line at SB 1458 SD 2 HD 3, and I really didn't see any major changes. Still only one island, still five year pilot program, etc. I did notice one major typo, they upped the fee for a temporary permit for out of state patients from $100 to $10, I will take another look to see what else is different between HD 2 and 3. It won't change the fact that the House version is not fair or workable (and, I'm being polite).

We did win this round of testimony, 48-24. The one-line "bad for the people of Hawaii" campaign did not appear this time. The up tick in "opposed" letters came from some patients, who were upset with the House version, and not even that happy with the original bill. I certainly understand that. But, the testimony was genuine, and as with the support letters, real patients were sharing their experiences and needs. We can only hope that our legislators actually take it into consideration. (So far, they're not showing much.)

In some ways, we are doing great with the type of testimony we are getting (including from a 94 year old Navy vet, a Canadian police officer and board member of LEAP, the Democratic Party of Hawaii in previous rounds, and many more). But, 8,000 patients in a tiny percent of the population to begin with, and getting less than 1% of them to testify means we have an up hill battle in being heard. The process is long and arduous, a real test of stamina. A very big "thank you" to all who have spent so much time in front of their keyboards.

Should the bill pass the House, it will go to committee to merge with the Senate version. I'm told there are several proposals being kicked around, but I don't have any specifics at the moment.

The bill is still alive, and changes can be made, which is a better situation than what is going on in Montana. Last week a bill to totally repeal the medical cannabis program (which was passed by 64% of voters in 2004) made it to the governor's desk, and a bill that would drastically reduce the number of patients (by about 90%) passed a Senate committee and is moving along. Major push back.

At present there are about 28,000 patients in Montana, or 3% of the population. If Hawaii had the same percentage, there would be 39,000 patients state-wide.

In other states: Two bills to decriminalize cannabis (possession of five ounces or less, and six plants or less) in Maine died in committee. As did a bill to tax, regulate and control cannabis in Washington state.

And, speaking of bills not progressing, I should update you on the other four bills that sailed through the Senate. SB 1460 to decriminalize, passed 24-0, and the other three were 24-0, 24-1 and 23-2. None of them even got a hearing in the House. That's right. None even got a hearing. Incredible. (Oh, but, of course, HB 1085, which would raise the fee for the medical cannabis permit, did move forward in the Senate and there is a full vote on Tuesday. The most recent version, SD 2, had a blank line for the amount (it had been $35)...we'll see what they fill in, and when.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Marches against death and chaos

Last Wednesday, April 06, there was yet another march against the killings by the DTOs, voices raised in support for the Mexican poet Javier Secilia whose son, Juan Francisco Sicilia,  was killed March 28 in Cuernavaca, Morelos ( along with 6 others. On this same day, while the march was taking place, police in Tamaulipas discovered several narcofosas, or mass graves, that contained at least 59 bodies (

How are these two events related? Javier Secilia calling for a march against the government is nothing new here in Mexico (and, unfortunately neither are the narcofosas), for, every time a relative of a prominent Mexican is murdered (Fernando Marti, or Hugo Wallace), the good people are outraged, take to the streets for a day and demand change. But, there is no march today for these 59 (all sons and daughters) as there were no demands for a march, or call for change, by Secilia prior to March 28. This is not unusual as other powerful voices will speak out in the future, demanding change, but for now are silent, and will remain so, until the events that effect others (37,774 dead and counting) directly effect them.

This grotesque NIMBY-ism alone, speaks greater volumes than the thousands who participated in the marches last Wednesday, chanting, crying, demanding and then going home at the end of the day to their routines having vented their collective spleen (sadly, those in power know that this is the norm and they need only wait a day or two...maybe a week...and it will blow over). It is these other voices that need to speak out now rather than when the violence directly effects them, as it is now directly effecting so many others in Mexico (who seem to have little or no voice on the national stage).

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

Follow on Twitter:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Sheriff in town

Ciudad Juárez, a town tortured by internecine warfare, poor wages, lack of infrastructure and opportunities for it's youth (whose only “succor” seems to be drugs and gangs) has a new sheriff in town (literally), Lt. Col. Julian Leyzaola Pérez (see the Los Angeles Times “Ciudad Juarez's top police official accused of rights abuses” Leyzaola, a former army man (as indicated by the Lt. Col.), made his reputation in Tijuana, a brutal reputation of human rights abuses against suspected criminals as well as police officers in his own department whom he suspected of being corrupt (see The New Yorker article “In the Name of the Law” Human rights activists are concerned about Leyzaola and his methods, and rightly so. Security, or the perception of it, always seems to push human rights and freedoms to the background whenever a community feels threatened (or rather the elite of the community), who willingly sacrifice the rights and freedoms of it's powerless members in the name of being tough on crime/gangs/drugs/etc (on a worldwide scale we can see what happened after the 11th of September 2001).

There are several problems with this picture especially as it relates to Juaréz's new lawman (an ironic term). The main problem has to do with the installation of military personnel (current or retired) in police agencies. Even though both police and soldiers wear a uniform and carry weapons, they are not the same; their mission is not the same; their objectives are not the same; their ethos is not the same. And, because it appears that few politicians realise this, it is important to point out the differences between soldiers and police officers. It is not that difficult to understand and, without getting too deep into this, we only have to look at the ethos of the military: namely, the very existence of an army is for a country to defend itself or to attack an enemy (whether real or perceived). The soldiers are recruited (based on such traits as: fitness, team-players, obedient and, above all else, loyalty), trained and equipped for this function, that is, to defeat an enemy using as much force as possible in as short a period of time (see “The Principles of War” an essay by Carl von Clausewitz)--this, of course, presupposes the presence of the “other” or the “not us”.

To the astute reader, this ethos will immediately be seen to be the opposite of what is expected of a police officer, that is, someone who can be approached for assistance, someone who knows and understands the community and its concerns, someone who is a MEMBER of the community (which means there is no “other”), someone who observes the “rule of law” (as opposed to acting under the “rules of war”). Bearing this in mind we can see that the background of Leyzaola, and his actions as police chief in the last 4 years, is the opposite of community service and of the rule of law: he acts on suspicion, he endorses torture and curtails free speech (see La Prensa San Diego “High Noon along the U.S./Mexico border?” Although Leyzaola, and his supporters, credits his tactics with reducing violence in Tijuana, there are others who argue that his successes are more the result of good timing rather than of his efforts (see Proceso “Tijuana El héroe falso ” What his tactics do achieve, though, is that the community has another “gang” to fear (aside from threats from various gangs, the army and it's abuses, rogue police officers etc). This fear was recently emphasized with the forced disappearance of 4 young men by uniformed men last week (see Human Rights Watch “Mexico: Investigate Enforced Disappearances in Ciudad Juarez--Police Accused, Torture Allegations Against Chief”

Hiring people like Leyzaola and the militarization of policing, of communities, of society, will not stop, or even slow down, organized crime (think Russia or China). What is needed are domestic police agencies that adhere to the rule of law and that respect the human rights and freedoms of all community members. As opposed to the militarization of policing, these factors will, at the very least aid the police in the investigation of crimes because, as they gain the trust of the community they will receive more cooperation as well as credible information concerning illegal activities, rather than the creation of  an army, a wall, a "we vs they" mentality which can only work in the favor of organized crime (as recent history has emphasized).

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

Follow on Twitter:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Border Patrol Shots 19yo Over Pot

A Border Patrol Agent shot a 19yo kid climbing the border fence into Mexico ove 48 pounds of pot. When will we learn?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...