TIJUANA, Mexico – President Felipe Calderón scored a major victory in his fight against narcotics this week when security forces confiscated about 134 tons of marijuana, the nation’s largest confiscation of marijuana ever, army officials said.
Soldiers and police confiscated the marijuana during early morning raids in three neighborhoods in the city of Tijuana following a gunfight in which 11 gunmen were arrested, Army Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mújica said at a media conference.
The marijuana, which officials said was en route to the United States, was discovered wrapped in 10,000 packages and had a street value in Mexico of about $4.2 billion pesos (US$340 million).
The marijuana will be incinerated, Duarte said, according to The Associated Press.
The operation started when gunmen in vehicles opened fire on a municipal police patrol, but no one was killed, Duarte said, adding a police officer and a suspect were wounded.
Police arrested 11 and called the army and state police for support, Duarte said. The suspects gave officials the location of the marijuana, which was found in tractor trailers and residences.
Before the bust, officials in Baja California state, where Tijuana is located, had seized a total of 115 tons of marijuana this year, according to the AP.
Airports in Brazil, West Africa work together in narcotics fight
DAKAR, Senegal – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has started an initiative to improve the communication between police and airports in seven West African countries and Brazil in an effort to stop international narcotics trafficking.
Narcotics traffickers have capitalized on communication gaps among the countries’ law enforcement agencies to turn western Africa into a hub for transporting narcotics from South America to Europe, officials said.
Cheikhou Cissé, a Senegalese senior interior ministry official, said the aim of the initiative, nicknamed “Aircop,” is “to establish secure communication between airports in West Africa and Latin America,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Brazil, Cape Verde, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo are participating in the project, and invitations have been extended to Guinea and Morocco.
Between 200 and 300 tons of cocaine enters Europe annually by plane, according to the United Nations. Aircop, which has an estimated cost of €2.3 million (US$3.2 million dollars), is mostly funded by the European Union, according to AFP.
“[The project will] bring together all agencies in charge of fighting trafficking and organized crime at the national level into a unit that can work with regional and trans-regional counterparts,” said Gilles Hervio, the head of the European Union delegation in Dakar, according to AFP.
Mexico: Marines kill three suspected Los Zetas members
MONTERREY, Mexico – Marines engaged in gunfights with suspected members of the Los Zetas cartel while the gang’s supporters put up at least a dozen roadblocks throughout the northeastern city of Monterrey, officials said.
One marine and three suspected gunmen were killed during a fight in which suspected Los Zetas members opened fire and tossed grenades at a patrol on a highway in the western part of the city, according to a Navy statement.
During the gunfight, suspected gang members took control of buses and other vehicles to block at least a dozen main streets in downtown, Alejandro Garza y Garza, the attorney general of Nuevo León state, said, according to The Associated Press.
Gangs frequently have used blockades to prevent authorities from getting reinforcements during gunfights. The region has become one of the country’s most violent since the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas started a bloody turf war to control the region’s lucrative narcotics smuggling routes.
Three marines were injured, and two of the three suspects died as a result of their vehicle catching fire during the gunfight. Marines confiscated three assault rifles, two handguns and ammunition after the battle, according to a Navy statement.
“Many states, including ours, have been affected by the battles between criminal groups and between those groups and the authorities,” Nuevo León state Gov. Rodrigo Medina said, according to the AP. “This is a war that we did not start, that we did not bring to Nuevo León but that we must face.”
Colombia: CTI dismantles Los Rastrojos narcotics trafficking cell
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The Colombian Technical Investigation Office (CTI) said it dismantled a cell of the narcotics trafficking organization Los Rastrojos in an operation that included the apprehension of six navy members suspected of assisting the group.
The suspects allegedly received monthly payments to allow the gang’s members to conduct their illegal business in the municipalities of Tumaco and Mosquera in the department of Nariño.
This cell of Los Rastrojos is accused of trafficking an average of three tons of cocaine monthly, among their other criminal activities along the country’s Pacific coast, CTI officials said, according to the Colombian website El Espectador.
Colombia: Navy seizes 343 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The navy has seized 343 kilograms (754 pounds) of cocaine hydrochloride hidden in a mangrove in the Bay of Cispatá near the city of San Antero in the department of Córdoba.
The narcotic, which had been divided into nine sacks, had a street value of about US$8.5 million, according to the Colombian website Todelar.com.
No arrests were made during the seizure, officials said.
Colombia: Army destroys two labs, 8,400 kilograms of coca leaves
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The army has destroyed two narcotics laboratories collectively containing 8,400 kilograms (18,480 pounds) of coca leaves and chemicals used to turn the plants into cocaine in the municipality of Cumaribo in the department of Vichada.
The military said the laboratories belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (FARC) José Antonio Páez León de Apure unit, according to the Colombian website El Espectador.com.