Monday, November 28, 2011

International banks have aided Mexican drug gangs

Despite strict rules set by international regulatory bodies that require banks to "know their customer," make inquiries about the source of large deposits of cash and report suspicious activity, they have failed to do so in a number of high-profile cases and instead have allowed billions in dirty money to be laundered.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

European banks' asset sales face disastrous failure

This sounds a lot like how US banks bundled mortgages together:

European banks are being forced to abandon their efforts to sell off trillions of euros worth of loans, mortgages and real estate after a series of talks with potential investors broke down, leaving many already struggling firms with piles of assets they can barely support.


Securitisation is at the heart of such arrangements. Assets with low ratings are pooled together into diversified portfolios in order to attain a higher rating. The resulting asset requires less cash and as a result of the higher rating can be more readily pledged to the ECB or to other banks to borrow against.

Mexico seeks to fill drug war gap with focus on dirty money

The evolving anti-laundering campaign could change the tone of the Mexican government's battle by striking at the heart of the cartels' financial empire, analysts say.


For example, Mexican traffickers are taking advantage of blind spots in monitoring the nearly $400 billion of legal commerce between the two countries. The so-called trade-based laundering allows crime groups to disguise millions of dollars in tainted funds as ordinary merchandise — say, onions or precious metals, as they are trucked across the border.

In one case, the merchandise of choice was tons of polypropylene pellets used for making plastic. Exports of the product from the United States to Mexico appeared legitimate, but law enforcement officials say that by declaring a slightly inflated value, traders were able to hide an average of more than $1 million a month, until suspicious banks shut down the operation.


There is also stubborn resistance among those who profit from their role as middlemen for big transactions.

One such group is notaries, who in Mexico have a function much like attorneys in the U.S. They handle nearly all real estate transactions and have battled a proposal that would require them to report how each purchase was paid for. Notaries say launderers would probably respond by skipping the paperwork altogether when buying cars and houses, only adding to the black-market economy.

Greece’s lonely path

Like Israel, Greece is in a period of less than splendid diplomatic isolation, though for very different reasons, and that is exactly what Dimas, in concert with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, will attempt to reverse in a relatively short period.

Though the focus has been on Greece’s isolation within the European Union, which has for decades been the country’s pillar of security, the geostrategic vulnerability resulting from the economic crisis will test Athens’ ability to respond to Turkish expansionism - from Ankara’s claims to Aegean islets to its objections to Greece delineating its exclusive economic zone with Cyprus.

The American intelligence think tank Stratfor, which is associated with the US intelligence community, declared in a November 21 monograph that “the question for Greece is whether it will be able to accept its much-reduced geopolitical role”. The think tank warns that if Athens does not find a way to be useful to a great power, Greece’s geopolitical role will “depend on the strategies that Turkey adopts”.

Cold comfort as austerity bites in Europe

the Balkanization of the Balkans continues:

Romanian mayor Florin Cazacu staged a six-day hunger strike last week over cuts to heating subsidies which meant his town of Brad could not afford fuel oil and 10,000 of its residents, public institutions and hospital faced a bitter winter.

Mexican Cartel Tactical Note # 7 | Small Wars Journal

‎"More importantly, at the officer safety level, two of these incidents suggest that US law enforcement officers should expect to engage Cartel foot soldiers armed with AK-47 semi-automatic rifles as standard issue weapons (at a minimum). The 7.62mm armor piercing round of the AK-47 will defeat standard issue US law enforcement body armor.... Additionally, the cartel tactical units/personnel initiated offensive actions against US law enforcement personnel in three of these highlighted incidents."

Guatemala and the Black Market for US Weapons

The trafficking of weapons over the U.S.-Mexico border is well-documented -- lesser known but also significant is the sale of U.S. weapons to Guatemalan government contractors, which are then siphoned off to criminal groups.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Russian, Italian mafias take root, Dominican official warns -

The President’s Adviser on narcotics warned Monday that real mafias are taking root in Dominican Republic, whose society has been neglectful by ignoring their mechanisms and presence, calling the recent executions of local and foreign citizens, their “simple tertiary manifestations.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bolivia and Brazil Unite Efforts in Drug War

The Brazilian and Bolivian police are starting joint anti-drug operations, an acknowledgement of the scale of the cross border problem, perhaps heralding a new direction for the Bolivians, who have resisted working closely with the United States on the drug issue.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jamaica: Life and death in police state where officers double as executioners | Mail Online

War has begun. Firefights rage between gunmen loyal to Dudus and the government’s forces. Four police officers and soldiers have been killed, a police station firebombed. Tivoli Gardens’ multicoloured tower blocks were built in a courageous attempt to move impoverished Jamaicans from hellhole slums into modern housing. Now they have become Dudus’s fiefdom, a state within a state.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mafia and Mexicans unite for drug push | The Australian

The head of the UN's Office of Drugs and Crime in Mexico City, Antonio Mazzitelli, believes Mexican drug cartels have struck deals with Australian members of the powerful Italian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta, to capitalise on the country's hugely profitable cocaine trade.

Mr Mazzitelli told The Australian that the Mexican cartels had turned to the 'Ndrangheta -- which was formed in the Calabria region in Italy's south and is now the most powerful of the Italian mafias -- to help them establish business in new markets.

Organized Crime in Central Europe -

The countries of Central Europe, especially the Czech Republic and Hungary, are used as centers for coordination, communication and conciliation between very powerful international crime syndicates, which have managed to install their headquarters in the heart of the European Union.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jamaica lacks resources to deal with drug trafficking, says PM - News - Go-Jamaica

The prime minister said while there have been efforts to enhance patrolling of Jamaica’s territorial waters; this isn't enough to play a significant role in disabling the drug trade.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Middle East Spectator: Unlikely Bedfellows: Are Some Saharan Marxists Joining Al-Qaida Operations In North Africa?

However, there is some evidence that stalled discussions over independence or autonomy for Western Sahara may have created a marriage of convenience among some elements of the independence struggle and AQIM. If accurate, these reports suggest that some members of the Algeria-based Polisario Front have joined al-Qaeda in trafficking drugs, arms and humanitarian aid in North Africa's desert borderlands.

BBC: Balkans – new entrance for Latin American cocaine to Europe - FOCUS Information Agency

London. Latin American organized crime groups involved in cocaine trafficking have found new transit area on the Balkans for cocaine trafficking between Latin American countries and Europe. These are the findings of the European Police Service Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
“Our findings are that the route through the Balkans is being used more and more often for cocaine trafficking from Latin America to the EU. It is important that new trend to become one of the priorities of the national authorities for combating drug trafficking”, director of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Wolfgang Gotz told BBC.

Foreign gangs pose biggest challenge to PH anti-drug drive—US -, Philippine News for Filipinos

The Washington DC-based agency said 'traffickers increasingly take advantage of the Philippines' long and porous maritime borders to use the country as a transit point for high-grade cocaine and heroin shipments, primarily from India and Pakistan.'