Saturday, January 23, 2016

Narco States

Western banks reap big money handling the filthy lucre generated by the International trade in cocaine,  marijuana, and heroin. 

Recently, there has been lots of noise, a couple of arrests, and leaked threats of US prosecutions against Venezuela and prominent Venezuelans. I bring this up (again) not to assert that any particular person who has been or will be accused is innocent (or not). I am concerned that the United States government may very well inflict  broad sanctions  on Venezuela or even invade Venezuela on a drug war pretext. Venezuela is now going through a very difficult time. It owes a great deal of money to the international one percent, much of it coming due soon, and it may be unable to make the payments on time. On top of that an issue of a major multi billion dollar embezzlement is emerging and this may prove out that a substantial part of that debt is illegitimate and ought not be paid. 
It ought to fall to Venezuela and its people to work through these problems. 

Recently Henry Ramos Allup, incorrectly christened a democrat, has risen to a place of  political power  as President of Venezuela’s National Assembly along with a coalition of political parties who oppose the president of the country, Nicolas Maduro. 

My point is that Ramos Allup is interested in pleasing the political officers in the US Embassy in Caracas.  He would be capable of declaring himself Venezuela's president and requesting US military intervention. 
I've added information that I hope exposes the hypocrisy of any US "concern" about real or imagined drug trafficking by Venezuelans.

US Marijuana Legalization Gives International Law The Middle Finger . In fact, even before the marijuana legalization craze began marijuana was the number one cash crop in the United States.

At an estimated $35.8 billion marijuana is by far the largest cash crop in the United States when compared to the average production values of other crops from 2003 to 2005. (Production values for other crops were obtained from the Department of Agriculture. [22])
Table 7. Top Cash Crops in the United States (Average Value 2003 – 2005)
Value ($1000s)
Based on a comparison


Awash In Cash, Drug Cartels Rely On Big Banks To Launder Profits

A woman uses a cash machine at an HSBC bank office in Mexico City. The multi-national bank was heavily penalized several years ago for permitting huge transfers of drug cartel money between Mexico and the U.S.
A woman uses a cash machine at an HSBC bank office in Mexico City. The multi-national bank was heavily penalized several years ago for permitting huge transfers of drug cartel money between Mexico and the U.S.
Enric Marti/AP
The Sinaloa Cartel, headquartered on Mexico's northern Pacific Coast, is constantly exploring new ways to launder its gargantuan profits. The State Departmentreports that Mexican trafficking organizations earn between $19 and $29 billion every year from selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines on the streets of American cities.
And Sinaloa is reportedly the richest, most powerful of them all, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The capture last month of the Mexican druglord Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman has cast a spotlight on the smuggling empire he built.
One key to the Sinaloa Cartel's success has been to use the global banking system to launder all this cash.
"It's very important for them to get that money into the banking system and do so with as little scrutiny as possible," says Jim Hayes, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for the New York office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. He was lead agent in the 2012 case that revealed how Sinaloa money men used HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, as their private vault.
ICE says in 2007 and 2008, the Sinaloa Cartel and a Colombian cartel wire-transferred $881 million in illegal drug proceeds into U.S. accounts.
Huge Daily Deposits
According to a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, cartel operatives would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a single day using boxes designed to fit the exact dimensions of the teller's window at HSBC branches in Mexico.

America’s Marijuana Laws Give International Law the Middle Finger

Martin Bernetti/Getty Images
The United States is in the midst of amarijuana legalization revolution. Four states and the nation’s capital city have opened up the once-feared black markets and made marijuana available for legal purchase by most of the adult population. There is still one big glaring issue, however: a very large, international governing organization that could try to pull the plug on the entire thing.
Surprisingly, it’s not the DEA, FBI, or White House. Although marijuana isstill a Schedule I drug under federal law (and federal law generally trumps state law), the DoJ issued a memorandum in 2013 that effectively made a deal with states. As long as they “establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance,” then the federal government will defer “its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.”
It’s the United Nations that could rain on the legal-weed parade. The “look the other way mentality” offered by the DoJ is not in line with international drug laws, and some people at the U.N. have decided to throw around their weight a little bit.
“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told reporters late last year,per Reuters. The convention Fedotov is talking about is the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which, among other things, attempts to relegate marijuana to strictly medical or scientific use. UNODC monitors compliance with the convention.
But if you’re like most Americans, then you are probably not too worried about how the U.N. feels about marijuana legalization in the United States. According to Gallup, 58% of Americans now support legalization. Besides, despite a fairly strong image, many Americans feel like the U.S. is outside of the reach of the U.N. on mostly domestic issues like drug policy. There’s even precedent for a U.N. member nation bucking the convention, as Uruguay legalized cannabis in 2013.
So, what does it really mean if the U.S. is technically violating international drug law? Does it mean anything at all, and should anyone actually care?
What it mainly comes down to, as it does internally within the United States, is a simple look at the costs and benefits. There really isn’t anything that the U.N. can do to stop states within the U.S. from legalizing marijuana, and there really isn’t any reason why the U.N. would want to spend resources policing it. It’s just like how the federal government under the Obama administration has opted to allow states to self-police and implement their own legal markets, instead of expending the likely billions it would take to enforce the current Schedule I classification of cannabis.
This is truly the biggest point in the whole argument. From an economic standpoint, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the DEA, DoJ, or U.N. to spend time, money, and manpower to fight back against something that doesn’t provide much benefit. Not only that, but the political toll that the U.N. would likely have to suffer as a result would probably be extremely high if the body chose to engage in sanctions or some other kind of punitive measure.
If there’s one thing that truly gets Americans hot, it’s anyone — especially an international organization like the U.N. — messing with their sense of personal freedom, or putting at risk their opportunity for economic prosperity.
The U.N. seems concerned that the U.S. will, in the near future, give full legalization a blessing from the federal government — it appears not to want that sentiment to spread internationally. Within the United States, however, that sentiment has already taken root and is spreading. The 2016 election cycle should only go to further the pro-legalization crowd’s agenda, and sooner or later the U.S. government will need to address the international community’s concerns.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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