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Category Archives: War On Drugs

District Town Officers to assist with tax and drugs awareness – Matangi Tonga

Posted: November 30, 2019 at 9:47 am

District Town Officers, Town Officers, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Revenue & Customs staff, Nuku'alofa. 26 November 2019.

District Town Officers and Town Officers will start promoting tax awareness and assist government with the war on drugs, after the Ministry of Revenue and Customs (MoRC) requested support at a Tax Awareness Program held on 26 November inNukualofa.

MoRC Acting CEO Mr Maamaloa Fotofil and staff explained the core functions of the ministry to the officers who will promote the information to the community through their fono meetings, kava social groups and other gatherings including churchfunctions.

The officers were also expected to advise their communities on any related Revenue and Customs matters they come across. This included compliance with business registration, especially for those who are running businesses without a licence to avoid payingtaxes.

In fighting the war on drugs, the officers will assist the government by monitoring their communities for evidence of the import or dealing of illicitdrugs.

During the program, it was agreed that both parties would continue to meet twice a year in March and August on an annualbasis.

Tax awareness programs will be held separately in all villages from April to June everyyear.

The program links to the Tax Week theme 'Smart borders for a prosperous Tonga' which was celebrated inOctober.

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The War on Drugs in 2019: Far From Over – The Scarlet

Posted: November 17, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Holly Walker, Contributing WriterNovember 15, 2019

The United States has been engaged in a so-called War on Drugs since President Richard Nixon announced it as part of his law and order presidency in 1971; nearly five decades later, it does not appear to be losing steam.

In the early years of the War on Drugs, the federal government and law enforcement took every effort to clean up the streets, primarily in large cities such as New York and Detroit. The campaign resulted in rapidly increasing rates of mass incarceration, which continues to disproportionately affect African American and Hispanic communities across the United States today. This was the goal of the Nixon administrations anti-drug campaign, according to John Ehrlichman; Nixons former advisor admitted in 1994 that the real enemies were the anti-war left and African Americans fighting for their civil rights.

By associating these communities with certain drugs and subsequently criminalizing them, the desired result of limiting their power and influence on the wider American public soon emerged. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country in the world; it accounts for only 5% of the worlds population, but more than a quarter of the worlds prison population. Similarly, while African Americans and Hispanics constitute approximately 32% of the US population, in 2015 they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in the United States.

Nevertheless, since the Obama administration, the federal government has attempted to decrease the number of inmates serving life sentences by steadily releasing inmates imprisoned for non-violent, drug-related crimes. In December 2018, Congress successfully enacted the First Step Act, which will release roughly 3,100 US inmates, including many convicted of drug offenses, from federal prisons. Nearly 1,700 further inmates had their sentences reduced after a provision in the law retroactively recalculated sentences to reduce disparities between those who committed crimes involving crack versus powder cocaine, according to Reuters. During the War on Drugs in the latter decades of the twentieth century, the majority of those convicted for crack offenses were racial and ethnic minorities; the enactment of this provision is in line with changing prison demographics, with the gap between the number of black to white prisoners steadily narrowing over the past decade.

Given these statistics, perhaps it is safe to say that the War on Drugs at least in its traditional iteration is over. However, in recent years, the conversation has shifted away from cocaine and towards cannabis, especially as more and more states push for legalization. Although still illegal on the federal level, cannabis has been decriminalized by fifteen states and legalized in another eleven states and Washington D.C. as of June 2019. However, according to Business Insider, the prohibition of cannabis in the United States has inherently racist and xenophobic origins, intended to first criminalize Mexican immigrants in the early twentieth century; by the mid-twentieth century, African Americans were also being targeted. Even the popularisation of the Spanish word marijuana was deliberate for law enforcement to emphasize the dangers of the drug when possessed and used by racial and ethnic minorities.

This disparity has persisted into the twenty-first century. In 2013, the ACLU reported that black people were four times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis, despite both groups using the drug recreationally at a similar rate. Furthermore, in September 2019, the FBI released new crime statistics which revealed that the rates of cannabis-related arrests increased exponentially from previous years, despite the greater push towards legalization. In 2018, US police made over 1.6 million total drug arrests, which translates to one every 19 seconds.

As we draw closer and closer to the new decade, it is clear that the War on Drugs is still being fought in the United States, though in some ways, it does not look much like it did in the 1970s and 1980s. While cannabis-related arrests are on the rise, so is the number of Americans pushing for legalization and decriminalization across the United States. Furthermore, the discourse surrounding drug addiction is gradually changing from criminalization to rehabilitation, and the federal First Step Act is representative of a potential shift towards a less demonizing culture surrounding drug usage and addiction. However, the ongoing opioid crisis is a continual issue that affects several different demographics across American society.

Furthermore, in the last year, even vaping and e-cigarettes are in the Drug Enforcement Administrations crosshairs due to an increase in bootleg vaping cartridges, according to a recent article in the National Interest entitled The War On Drugs 2.0. E-cigarette-related injuries, seizures and even deaths have also increased public fear surrounding vaping, which is evidently being treated in a similar way to more traditional drugs like cannabis and opioids by the DEA. As the types of drugs change, then, their continued criminalization by the United States government is persistent. The War on Drugs, soon to reach its half-century birthday, is far from over.

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COLUMN: We should end the war on drugs – Colorado Springs Gazette

Posted: at 2:35 pm

I have always stayed away from drugs, legal or otherwise, but they are a problem that we cant ignore. Recent events reveal the futility of drug prohibition. The massacre of the LeBaron fundamentalist Mormons in the Mexican border state of Sonora is a terrible tragedy.

The large extended LeBaron families are descended from immigrants who fled to Mexico in the late 19th century to freely practice their religion, which allows for polygamy or plural marriage, as the Mormons call it. The tragedy has made obvious the folly of the U.S. war on drugs. This war is driven by the puritanical urge to police human behavior. In the context of religious liberty, which we see as one of our greatest achievements, its noteworthy that Mexico is much more tolerant of polygamy as a religious belief than the U.S. where it is outlawed. But we are spiritual descendants of the Puritans and we have a cultural trait that drives us to ban, prohibit, or make illegal anything seen as abhorrent, immoral and dangerous, even if there is insufficient evidence to justify the ban.

This is why alcohol was made illegal during Prohibition and why there is now a wave of indignation and a movement to ban vaping. And this is why polygamy is illegal and why recreational drugs are illegal. We might abhor polygamy, but in our righteous wrath at the deaths of American women and children we have forgotten that polygamy was the reason that the American LeBarons chose to flee to Mexico. Our sense of moral superiority is so strong that there have been loud calls for a U.S. military intervention to destroy the drug gangs in Mexico. You might feel that this kind of thing would work both ways. Not so. Many of the dead in the recent El Paso Wal-Mart massacre were Mexican citizens. In response the Mexican government politely offered to help U.S. authorities fight the white supremacists who inspired the massacre. But the offer was rejected.

The slaughter of the innocents in Sonora was gruesome but maybe some good can come out of it. Maybe it will make us reevaluate our drug policies, as if the deaths of 150,000 Mexicans (a conservative estimate) since 2006, when the Mexican government at the insistence of the U.S. began its war on the cartels, were not enough to make us forsake our fruitless war on illegal drugs. The war in Mexico now has the character of a full-blown insurgency, with large swaths of the country under the control of the cartels, the often corrupt and ineffectual government having ceded authority to the stronger force. It is not a good thing to have a close neighbor in the throes of horrific violence. The war against the cartels will spread into our country. The disorder extends to Central America, causing the unending flow of migrants headed for our southern border.

We have not benefited from the huge expenditure of treasure and the spilling of blood. We know from their ubiquitous presence that the war on drugs has not stopped the flow of cocaine, heroin, meth, marijuana, etc. into the U.S. But it has caused the incarceration of 500,000 Americans.

Our constitutional due process rights and freedom from unlawful search and seizure are routinely violated by federal authorities who confiscate billions in asset forfeitures every year. Many police agencies have become addicted to easy money from asset forfeiture, leading to increased militarization of civilian police, never a good idea in a democracy. The police focus on the drug war and emphasis on tactics more suitable to urban warfare has led to a breakdown of communication and trust between law enforcement and local communities. This has made police work more dangerous. And there are ripple effects. We have an opioid epidemic, with tens of thousands dead from doctor-prescribed painkillers. But with the scrutiny on doctors and opioids, sufferers turn to the old stand-by, heroin, further incentivizing criminals in Mexico to supply this market.

Lets be honest. We have an insatiable appetite for drugs and the addictions they breed. Man-made laws cannot control this.

Joe Barrera, Ph.D., is the former director of the Ethnic Studies Program at UCCS, a lecturer in U.S. Southwest history, and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

Joe Barrera, Ph.D., is the former director of the Ethnic Studies Program at UCCS, a lecturer in U.S. Southwest history, and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

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Editorial: War on Drugs has been a failure – The Reporter

Posted: at 2:35 pm

Following news of the brutal and tragic slaying of women and children in La Mora, Mexico, President Trump took to Twitter to call on Mexico to offer American support in Mexicos drug war. This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president! he tweeted.

While President Trump is right to want to see those responsible held accountable for their actions, its wrong to pretend that governments havent been waging a war on drugs for several decades now and that it has been anything other than a costly failure.

For decades, drug prohibition has provided a lucrative revenue source for cartels, street gangs, terrorist organizations and guerilla groups around the world.

While millions of Americans have been hit with criminal records, and hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been killed in conflicts financed by drug trafficking, what do we have to show for it?

An opioid crisis. Continued street gang violence. And perpetually destabilized neighbors to the south. Alas, the message now, as in years past, is the same: We must double down on a failed approach.

In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon deployed the military to reduce drug violence in the Mexican state of Michoacn. The intentions were good, but the results have been tragic.

According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, since 2006, about 150,000 organized crime-linked murders have happened in Mexico, with violence getting worse in recent years.

Former presidents of Mexico Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo have come to realize that the war on drugs cannot be won and have called for legalization and other reforms to global drug policy. Its a position Trump himself once held. Were losing badly the war on drugs, Trump said in 1990. You have to legalize drugs to win that war.

Little has changed since 1990, though Trump had the right idea then.

The status quo does little to nothing to stop drug abuse, while enriching violent cartels. More of the same or a wall wont change that.

If Americans want a more stable Mexico and Central America, as well as a more humane drug policy, they should support drug law reform.

-- Orange County Register, MediaNews Group

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Gov’t to block foreign activist critical of drug war – BusinessWorld Online

Posted: at 2:35 pm

THE presidential palace wants to ban a foreign human rights activist for allegedly interfering in President Rodrigo R. Dutertes deadly war on drugs.

Phelim Kine, former deputy director for Asia of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, should be banned for tweeting that Mr. Duterte and his henchmen should be arrested for instigating mass murder, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing yesterday.

He has already reached a conclusion this is a murderous country, he said.

Mr. Kine also wrote he was ready to come to the Philippines to help advise Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo on how to end this murderous drug war.

Philippine police have said they have killed about 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.

Mr. Duterte earlier put the vice president in charge of his anti-illegal drug campaign.

Mr. Panelo said the human rights activists entry into the Philippines was an intrusion into the nations sovereignty.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. on Monday warned Mr. Kine he would be denied entry.

Mr. Duterte in August ordered all agencies to reject loans and grants from 41 countries that had backed a probe of his deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on July 11 ordered its human rights office to present a comprehensive report as it expressed concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.

The body adopted a resolution that Iceland proposed and 17 other nations voted for. Twenty-four other nations who co-sponsored the resolution did not vote.

The resolution drew the ire of Mr. Duterte, who writhes at Western condemnation of his drive that is widely supported by Filipinos.

The UN council urged the government to cooperate with UN offices by allowing visits by its officials and by refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.

The resolution also called on the Philippines take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable.

The government has dismissed the council order, saying states who supported it had been misinformed about the Philippine situation.

In his fourth State of the Nation Address in July, Mr. Duterte said drug traffickers must be put to death, noting that the illegal drug menace persists despite his deadly war on drugs.

Majority of Filipinos remained satisfied with Mr. Dutertes war on drugs despite worldwide criticism, according to the Social Weather Stations June poll.

The polling firm found that 82% of Filipinos were satisfied with the governments illegal drug campaign, while only 12% were dissatisfied, resulting in an excellent +70 net satisfaction rating. GMC

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Democrats Should Deliver On Gun Control That Doesn’t Feed Mass Incarceration – The Appeal

Posted: at 2:35 pm

Spotlights like this one provide original commentary and analysis on pressing criminal justice issues of the day. You can read them each day in our newsletter,The Daily Appeal.

Last week, voters delivered decisive wins for Democrats in Virginia, giving the party full control of state government for thefirst time since 1994, according to the New York Times. Daniel Nichanian of The Appeal: Political Reporthighlighted the victoriesof three Democratic prosecutor candidates running on decarceration platforms in the state: The Election Day results overhauled Virginias landscape in particular, broadening the geography of decarceration, and paving the way for advocates to scale upcounty-level reforminto demands for statewide change.

The legislature could tackle proposals to decriminalize pot, restrict disenfranchisement, lessen sentencing guidelines and felony thresholds, and strengthen discovery rules, Nichanian wrote. The newly elected prosecutors all pledged to challenge the lobbying power of the Virginia Association of Commonwealths Attorneys, the state prosecutors group that consistently opposes reform.

With Democrats taking control in the state and voters in multiple jurisdictions supporting prosecutor candidates who believe it is their responsibility to tackle mass incarcerationin their jurisdictions and at the state levelthe stage should be set for the state to shrink the footprint of and repair some of the harm inflicted by the criminal legal system.

For this reason it is especially important to follow one of the major issues that Virginia Democrats ran on:gun control.

For too long, the central debate in gun control policy has been between Republicans who oppose limits on gun ownership and Democrats who advocate limits. In this debate, the NationalRifleAssociation and its adherents are the easy villains. But this obscures the questions aboutthe type of policies adopted, as Daniel Denvir haspointed out. For too long, gun control has defaulted to using criminal law and the punishment system, with the familiar, inexcusable risks for people of color, particularly Black, Latinx, and Native men and boys.

In a 2015 law review article, Benjamin Levin, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School,arguedthat the lessons of the war on drugs should be applied to gun control policies.

Like criminal drug statutes, existing and proposed criminal gun possession statutes should also trigger skepticism from critics of mass incarceration, Levin wrote. If we are concerned about mass incarceration because of its social or economic costs, we should subject to close scrutiny any legislation that further ramps up punishment or potentially increases the number of individuals serving extended sentences.

Levin looked at how gun possession laws were the product of two troubling trends. Criminal laws that target gun possession, he wrote, stand at once as markers of two concurrent, and seemingly inconsistent, trends in U.S. penal culture: criminal law as the regulatory mechanism of choice and punitive, extended incarceration as the dominant form of punishment. That is, the state governs through crime, stripping the criminal offense of many of its exceptional qualities; yet, the state punishes as though the criminal law remains exceptional, a space reserved for those who have violated the deep-seated moral values of the community, rather than those who have fallen afoul of yet another legislative diktat.

What is urgent, Levin wrote, is to consider how we might imagine a legal architecture for gun regulation that avoids the pitfalls of the War on Drugs. And in what might serve as a caution for (mostly Democratic) legislators and journalists around the country, he noted that, We live in a world of hard cases, and criminalization and turning to criminal punishment should be hard. Recognizing the seriousness of a social problem should not necessarily be enough to trigger a harsh criminal solution. Recognizing criminal laws staggering social costs should be the legacy of the War on Drugs.

Last month, The AppealsMedia Framecolumn looked at one-sided reporting on gun violence in Charlotte, North Carolina. When the problem of gun crime is examined through the eyes of law enforcement only, the solutions to the problem are unsurprisingly myopic,wroteAdam Johnson. Those interviewed in the piece believe the answer lies with tougher laws and more resources for police and prosecutors. The well-documented idea that gun violence could be prevented or deterred byinvesting in resourcesinto health clinics, anti-poverty programs, recreation centers, schools, public parks, or other public services that improve community ties and increase standards of living is never explored.

The debates, which develop momentum after mass shootings, also ignorethe complexity of gun violenceand the reality that gun deaths are largely suicides and homicides that disproportionately affect communities of color. Black men and boys make up 6 percent of the U.S. population but are more than half of the countrys gun homicide victims.

(In a policy plan released last month, Senator Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, and Representative Steven Horsford introduced abillthat would fund a multi-year approach to addressing gun violence that does not default to using the criminal legal system. The plan calls for the allocation of $90 million a year to reducing gun violence. As The Guardianreported, the bill does not include any gun control provisions: its focused on strategies that prevent shootings by focusing on the people, not the guns. It is explicit about lessening the reliance on policing, requiring cities to give at least half of their federal grant dollars under the bill to community organizations that provide services to high-risk people, or to a public department that is not a law enforcement agency.)

In Virginia, the gun control bills championed by Governor Ralph Northam bills seem to rely onfurther criminalizationof gun possession. As voters, media outlets, and state representatives and prosecutors move on from the recent elections, we should pay attention to whether the measures that Democrats introduce to reduce gun violence will build on or flatly contradict the recognition that mass criminalization and mass incarceration are not the social policies we need.

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Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not End – City Watch

Posted: at 2:35 pm

EL CHAPO WATCH--Just as the post-mortem analyses of the botched capture and release of El Chapos son, Ovidio Guzman, was dying down, Mexico suffered another atypical act of violence.

The execution of three women and six of their children in the state of Sonora shocked the public in Mexico and the United States, where the family held dual citizenship, and once again put President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador on the defensive.

Murder by organized crime, the presumed culprit, is the stuff of daily news here since the drug war was launched in late 2006. But the massacre of women and children, members of a powerful and well-known agribusiness family, in a remote area on the border of Chihuahua and Sonora where they have lived for a century, on the surface makes no sense. A crime this notorious, involving US citizens, brings down major binational heat on a drug cartel, something they normally try to avoid.

Information has been confused and contradictory, The Secretary of Public Security and Protection, Arturo Durazo, stated the day after, Nov. 5, that it could be a case of mistaken identity. Media and social media have rejected the claim, and with good reason. Over the years, the mistaken identity or it was an accident motive in Mexican forensics has become shorthand for wed rather not talk about this. We saw it in the 1993 killing of the Catholic Cardenal Posadas, and the inexplicably high number of cases of security forces and high-level government officials who have fallen from the sky. Local reporters have confirmed that the drug cartels that control this part of the country know who travels these roads. A child who surviveddescribedthat assailants fired on his mother as she pleaded for her family. Also the vehicles were not together when the attacks occurred, a sure-fire sign that this was neither a mistake nor crossfire.

There has also been a startling lack of clarity on exactly where the crime occurred, what direction the caravan of three vehicles was traveling, why security forces took so long to arrive on the scene, and who did what, when. The governments chronology records that the crime was reported at 1:00 PM, and the military arrived six hours later despite the fact that they have headquarters located in Agua Prieta and Casas Grandes, both just several hours away from the scene of the crime.

Lpez Obrador responded to a question on the delay saying that the National Guard, located in nearby towns of Janos, Moctezuma and Zaragoza, arrived earlier, but he did not say when and there is no data to back it up. He also did not explain why the Army confirmed the number of dead four hours after arriving and then undercounted by five. Or why Sonora and Chihuahua state security forces launched the operation to seal off the area at 8:30 PMseven and a half hours after the first report. By that time, all you can expect to catch in the net are other security forces and the press, which rapidly swarmed to this usually forgotten part of the country.

In addition to being a highly militarized area, the place where the massacre took place is the home turf of AMLOs Secretary of Security. Durazo was born and raised in Bavispe, Sonora, the town near the site. For many Sonorans, this is not a coincidence. They believe that the crime could be a message to the Secretary. The night before the ambush, there was an attack in Agua Prieta that left two dead. Durazos cousin is mayor of Agua Prieta.

The Sonora state government is in charge of the investigation, with assistance from the federal Attorney Generals office. The governor, Claudia Pavlovich, has requested assistance from the FBI, although Lopez Obrador has stated repeated that Mexico has thecapacity to solvethe crime.

Durazo and the president requested that the press not speculate until the results of the investigation are in, but social media and the press have been ablaze with speculation.

Send in the Marines?

Donald Trump fired out a series of tweets on the shooting Nov. 5, portraying a family from Utah trapped in crossfire. He used the tragedy to relaunch the war on drugs in Mexico and offered to send in the army: If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!

He followed up: This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!

AMLO rejected the warpath as a failed strategy from the past, while thanking Trump for his offer, which he insisted was not interventionist. But openly proposing sending in a foreign army is the definition of interventionist, and an outright provocation for Mexico, which has historically been sensitive about protecting its sovereignty after centuries of US. Invasions.

More information will emerge, but whats important is to find out the motive of the massacre, to read this crime in the context of this phase the public security crisis and its implications. Womens bodies have long been used to gruesomely mark territory and this is disputed turf, but this crime goes further.

To murder mothers and babies is a macabre way to challenge the power of the state. Why would the cartels throw down the gauntlet in this place, at this time? There are three main hypothesis and quite possibly the truth lies in a combination: First, the ambush was a response to what a criminal group perceived as a direct threat from the LeBaron family to its interests in the area. This part of Mexico is an important drug trafficking route and family members have also mentioned huachicoleo or gas theft in the area. There have also been pitched battles over water use.

Second, it is a message for Durazo and the federal government to back off. What specific measure could have provoked such a strong message is unclear. Third, it is part of a broader plan to destabilize the new government. The attack comes on the heels of the bizarre and embarrassing failed arrest in Culiacan, and triggers critics at home and interventionists abroad. It has put an international spotlight on violence and insecurity in the country which, according to the president himself, is the biggest challenge his government faces. The crime has prompted a revival of the spurious failed state accusations against Mexico from those who would like to see the nation folded into the U.S. security perimeter.

In any case, something big and uncommon is at stake here. Any attempt to chalk it up to a turf battle between local crime groups should be met with skepticism.

And even before the reports come in and a clearer picture emerges, one thing is certain: for those who benefit from war in Mexicoand there are many, on both sides of the borderthe LeBaron massacre is the perfect crime.

(Laura Carlsenis the director of theAmericas Programin Mexico City and advisor to Just Associates (JASS) Published most recently in counterpunch.org).

-cw

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The problem with policing isn’t funding – it’s priorities | Jenny Jones – Bright Green

Posted: at 2:34 pm

Im always fascinated when I watch a modern crime drama by the clever ways in which forensic crime scene investigation can bring people to justice. The technology has progressed so rapidly in the last four decades and the databases containing our biometrics have become

so comprehensive that you wonder how anyone gets away with car theft, let alone murder. So why do a third of murders in the USA regularly go unsolved and why did our own detection rates in London fall to similar levels last year?

I find that failure to solve the worst of crimes both shocking and surprising. In Londons case, it can be partly explained by the fact that the number of murder detective teams was drastically cut and detection rates plummeted.

One of Britains most successful (ex) drugs enforcement officers, Neil Woods, has raised the question of whether we have become so fixated by the war on drugs that it takes priority over everything else. If this is the case and drug gangs are seen as the biggest challenge confronting modern policing then why isnt anyone discussing solutions at this general election? The Greens have long believed in decriminalisation, but there are now many ex law enforcement officers, like Neil Woods, saying it publicly and many more still in uniform who think it privately.

We need to look at a different solution for each drug, but the direction would be towards decriminalisation with hard drug use returning to its previous status as a medical issue, while the softer drugs are heavily regulated and taxed, as we do with cigarettes and alcohol. In one go we pull the rug from under the multi-national trade in illegal drugs and deprive criminal gangs of their most lucrative source of income. The huge spending on drugs enforcement can be gradually scaled back and we can reallocate those police resources onto more conventional forms of crime.

The best historical example of decriminalisation happening is the ending of the prohibition of alcohol in nineteen thirties America. People had carried on drinking throughout prohibition, which made the gangs rich and elements of the justice system corrupted by the easy money.

Boris hopes that restoring 20,000 of the policing jobs that have been cut because of austerity, will be enough to win him votes. Labour are determined to expose it as the token gesture. As Greens we look at the big picture and big solutions. While the mainstream political debate is focused upon policing numbers, Greens want to discuss what those police are used for and what crimes are prioritised.

This isnt just because we can see police resources being wasted tracking and arresting environmental campaigners involved in Extinction Rebellion, or clamping down on local communities opposed to fracking. This is about the scandal of hundred of thousands of crimes being listed as not worth investigating by the police who see no hope of providing justice to the victims of car crimes, or vandalism, burglaries or theft, due to the lack of obvious evidence.

For all the technological progress, the police have a well-established system which stops them putting extra work into over a third of crimes, beyond the initial report stage.

Take for example my personal priority, creating safer roads. 40 people a day are killed or injured on the roads in the UK in hit and run collisions. We have lawless roads because of the historical decline in the numbers of traffic police and austerity has halved those numbers since 2010.

If you are one of the thousands of pedestrians killed or seriously injured on our roads, then there is now over a one in ten chance that the driver will have tried to escape without stopping. For all our cameras and forensic teams, the truth remains the same as when a traffic police sergeant told me back in 2001 the best way to kill someone and get away with it, is to run them over.

The debate about policing needs to be a debate about people and priorities, not just money.

Jenny Jones is a Green Party member of the House of Lords.

With the UK now set for a General Election on December 12, Bright Green is publishing a series of articles from the spokespeople of progressive political parties on how their policies would transform the country. This article is part of that series all articles can be found here.

Image credit: zxzoomy Creative Commons

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Mexico has reached a turning point: Will it destroy the cartels or itself? – AZCentral

Posted: at 2:34 pm

Opinion: The slaughter of women and children caught America's attention, but the real turning point for Mexico came with cartel violence weeks before.

Mexican soldiers patrol around the city of Culiacan on Friday Oct. 18, 2019.(Photo: Augusto Zurita/Associated Press)

We were the only two people sitting at a very long backyard picnic table,because our kids and wives had become great friends. All around us kids were running and playing.

The topic was culture, or actually the contrast of cultures.

He and his family are citizens of Mexico, who, because of his work, live in Arizona. He was describing to me the differences between our two countries.

He pointed to the end of the picnic table, to a cellphone I hadnt noticed, but that one of the kids or moms must have left there. He said, If this were Mexico, that would be gone.

If there is an important distinction between the two nations, it is the petty corruption that permeates daily life south of the border. People do not have much, he explained, and thus would not pass up the opportunity to take something of value that could put food on the table tomorrow.

I dont believe he was making a value judgment. He is a proud Mexican, and once put his culture on full display at an outdoorquinceaera for his 15-year-old daughter. There was music, dancing, food, all redolent of a culture fully alive. When it was over, I told him, In my next life, I want to be born Mexican.

But he and his wife are Mexican living in the United States, separated from their families and enjoying the relative peace from the troubles down there.

Mexico today is becoming more and more a narco state on the road to collapse. Wide swaths of the country have been taken over by drug gangs, who if they dont overtly tell you who is in charge, will in a moment settle the question with guns.

This is a seminal year for our neighbors down south, not because a family of white European fundamentalist Mormons was gunned down in broad daylight nine mothers and children murdered.

That kind of slaughter is all too common in Mexico.

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The people of Mexico are unsettled and sensing a turning point because of what happened only weeks earlier inCuliacn, the capital city of Sinaloa State. There a patrol of about 30 soldiers from Mexican President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obradors newly formed National Guard was moving through a residential area, probably with intent, when someone started shooting at them.

They followed the gunfire to a home where they found four men, one of them Ovidio Guzmn Lpez, the 29-year-old son of drug lord Joaqun El Chapo Guzmn, once considered the worlds biggest drug dealer.

DIAZ: Culiacn gun battle proves (again) that Mexico can't fight the cartels

El Chapo, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel is now rotting in a maximum-securityprison cell in Colorado, serving multiple life sentences. Two of his sons, including Ovidio, have been indicted, and so Ovidio was taken into custody.

Very soon after the soldiers found themselves surrounded by an armed force of some 400 sicarios, the Spanish word for hitmen or drug-gang militias. Vehicles outfitted with large-caliber automatic weapons descended on the city. The narcos were taking over.

They set tanker trucks and other vehicles on fire in major intersections to make it hard for national security forces to respond and started firing upon the National Guard troops.

The people of Culiacn were horrified by the piercing sound of large-weapons fire and took cover. Black clouds boiled up over their city and made Culiacn look like hell on earth.

The origin of the place name Culiacn is uncertain, but it may have been taken from the wordcoahuacanor "palace of snakes."Surrounded by snakes, the National Guard decided this was not the time to go to war with the Sinaloa cartel. They stood down. The drug lords held the town for a while and used that time to break out 30 of their compadresfrom jail.

Lpez Obrador, the president the Mexicans call "AMLO," said, This is no longer a war."

AMLO was elected in part to end the policies of two prior Mexican presidents, Felipe Caldern and Enrique Pea Nieto, who had declared war on the cartels and had pursued, with the help of the United States, a decapitation strategy of taking out the cartel bosses.

"This isno longer about force, confrontation, annihilation, extermination, or killing in the heat of the moment, AMLO said.You cant put out fire with fire.

When you take fire to the cartels, fire erupts and the murder rate leaps even higher, as it did to record levels. AMLO came in promising a new tactic abrazos no balazos or hugs not bullets.

His strategy is social programs to fight poverty, a ban to end corruption, a call to all Mexicans to exemplify good behavior.

But how do you hug the men who have completely corrupted your institutions, your courts, your police departments? How do you exhort to good behavior those who would kidnap 43 young college students from Iguala and murder them all at once?

How do you communicate with men who communicate by rolling five severed human heads onto a dance floor in Uruapan? Or who ambush and murder 14 police officers in Michoacn?

How can you ever make peace with those who would fire more than 200 rounds from assault weapons atwomen and children, killing nine of them?

The only way you do is to surrender. And that is what AMLO did.

If Caldern and Pea Nieto relied solely on enforcement, Lpez Obrador has chosen to give up the legitimate power of the state,"wrote Mexican journalist and Univision anchor in Los Angeles in an op-ed in theWashington Post.The Mexican government capitulated. Cartels will surely take notice.

Thats an absolute destruction of the rule of law and its going to get worse, said Derek Maltz, former chief of special operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration, to theWall Street Journal.

What we saw in Culiacn, said Edgardo Buscaglia, an expert on organized crime at Columbia University to the (London)Guardian, was the parallel state showing itself.

And in Mexico, this was a watershed, said Ismael Bojrquez, editor of the investigative Sinaloa weekly Ro Doce to theGuardian. Life goes on, yes, but not in the same way. We dont know if this will now be the reaction every time criminal groups feel threatened and we know even less what the federal government intends to do about it.

Those who believe marijuana legalization in the United States will end this scourge need to understand that marijuana is not the cash crop it was once believed to be for the Mexican mob.

In 2009, the Rand research organization found that the estimates of marijuana incartel exports were wildly overstated:

The claim that 60 percent of Mexican DTO (drug trafficking organizations) gross drug export revenues comes from marijuana is not credible. There is no public documentation about how this figure is derived, and government analyses reveal great uncertainty. RANDs exploratory analysis on this point suggests that 1526 percent is a more credible range.

The range of drugs and drug markets are expanding and diversifying as never before, reports the UN World Drug Report for 2018. And Mexican cartels are pushing out in the trafficking of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, fentanyl.

The United States will not in our life time legalize those dangerous street drugs.

That means Mexican cartels will control market share. In fact, they have become diversified conglomerates.

[In] this global business logic through franchises, Sinaloa resembles the hamburger chains we all know, and thats why we say this cartel is a multinational drug company, Jorge Hernndez Tinajero, author and researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico, toldSmall Wars Journal.

So the Mexicans have a problem. They dont have security. They dont control their state. They face an elemental struggle to be a civilized societyand it wont be achieved by words or safety nets.

The cartel bosses and their minionsare not Mexicans. They are enemies of the people and the state. They have to be destroyed. Defeating them will require force, yes, but also shrewd tactics and policies.

Mexico will need leadership from the top and from the grass roots.

Leadership at the top needs to shore up the court system so it actually dispenses justice. Theyll need to build up the army and local law enforcement to start protecting the Mexican people. Today they do not. Ninety-eight percent of all violent crime in Mexico nowgoes unsolved, reports theWashington Post.

Leadership from the bottom, from the Mexican people, needs to declare that the casual corruption in daily life is no longer tolerable. That a cellphone that disappears from a backyard picnic table ultimately gives license to bulletsthat fly in Culiacn.

Phil Boas is editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic. He can be reached at 602-444-8292 or phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/philboas/2019/11/16/mexico-has-reached-turning-point-destroy-cartels-itself/4178290002/

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Mexico has reached a turning point: Will it destroy the cartels or itself? - AZCentral

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Is the War on Drugs Over? Arrest Statistics Say No – The New York Times

Posted: November 7, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Drug arrests are classified into four categories: 1) heroin or cocaine and their derivatives, 2) marijuana 3) synthetic or manufactured drugs like fentanyl and 4) other dangerous non-narcotic drugs like barbiturates.

In 2018, there were 663,367 arrests involving marijuana, up from 659,700 in 2017, nearly 92 percent of them for possession. The F.B.I.s crime data includes only the top charge for each arrest, so if a suspect is found with drugs while being arrested on a more serious charge, the drug possession would not be counted in the agencys statistics.

I always caution people to read the U.C.R. data as an approximation because its imperfect, said Tess Borden, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who worked on a report published by the A.C.L.U. and Human Rights Watch in 2016: Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States.

According to New York States Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were 75,897 arrests for drug felonies and misdemeanors in New York in 2018, which includes any arrest where fingerprints were taken. About 35 percent of those arrests involved people who were identified as white; 37 percent as black; 25 percent as Hispanic; and 2 percent as Asian. The remainder were listed as other/unknown. (In New York State, blacks make up 18 percent of the population, and Hispanics 19 percent.)

We know from national survey data that people of all races use drugs in their adult lifetimes at approximately the same rates, Ms. Borden said. So the fact that we have great variances in who is arrested tells us about police priorities.

In 2021, the F.B.I. plans to begin using its National Incident-Based Reporting System to track crime data, which has more detail about a greater number of crimes.

This reporting system also contains information about the quantity of drugs involved in an arrest. Analyzing 700,000 drug arrests using this data for 2004, 2008 and 2012, the authors of the Sharks and Minnows paper found that about 40 percent of those arrests were for possessing or selling a quarter of a gram or less of drugs. And 20 percent were for possessing or selling drugs weighing between 0.25 grams and one gram. (A packet of Splenda sweetener weighs one gram.)

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Is the War on Drugs Over? Arrest Statistics Say No - The New York Times

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