Ecuador Sees Drug Seizures Rise as Traffickers Discover New Routes

first_img Cocaine confiscations up dramatically QUITO, Ecuador — In March 2008, Colombian forces bombed and raided a compound belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Ecuador’s northern region of Angostura. The attack eliminated FARC’s second-in-command and proved that traffickers had found a new area of operations in Ecuador — a country that historically has enjoyed one of the lowest rates of drug consumption in Latin America. “It was after the attacks at Angostura in 2008 that Ecuador realized the drug trade was, in fact, an imminent threat to national security,” said Bertha Garciá, director of the Observatorio de Seguridad, Defensa y Democracia, a think tank at Quito’s Universidad Central. García said that while Ecuador has never waged a “war on drugs” to the degree that Colombia or Mexico have, the country has become a victim of the “balloon effect” — a theory used to describe how the drug trade reacts to pressures. “Colombia and Peru have been able to conduct successful anti-drug campaigns and have made Ecuador an easier, more accessible habitat for the drug trade,” said Jaime Carrera, leader of the Quito economic research institution Observatorio de la Política Fiscal. Drug dealers favor Ecuador because it’s small and convenient Ecuador, which shares a border with Colombia, has been historically used by Colombian cocaine cartels as a transport point to the Pacific corridor. However, as Colombia’s three-decade long war on the FARC and cartels has begun to yield positive results, Ecuador has expanded “from being a mere trafficking route to also producing drugs and providing places for storage of illegal weapons and drugs,” García said. Fernando Carrión, an academic at the Quito headquarters of the Latin American School of Social Sciences (known by its Spanish acronym FLACSO), said this balloon effect struck Ecuador on three levels. “First it increased consumption within the country. Second, Ecuador has seen an increase in drug laboratories, and third, there’s increased use of the national territory,” he said, noting that since 2008, Mexican and Colombian cartels seem to have stepped up cooperation with their Ecuadorian counterparts. Earlier this year, a light aircraft with $1.3 million in cash aboard crashed in the northwestern Ecuadorian province of Manabí, killing its Mexican pilot and co-pilot. No official flight plan had been logged for the Mexican-registered plane, which was flying low, presumably to evade radar detection. A few days after that May 13 plane crash, troops found a drug-processing laboratory near the crash site, seized half a ton of cocaine paste and detained three people. Since coca is not cultivated in Ecuador, such labs are rare finds. In late September, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime — in its annual report on Peru — said that country had 62,500 hectares of coca under cultivation. This represented an increase of slightly more than 2 percent from the previous report and the sixth consecutive year the agency has detected an increase in coca crops. Peru remains the second largest producer of coca, following Colombia with 64,000 hectares. Bolivia has 27,200 hectares of coca. To Ecuador’s east is Brazil, from where drugs can filter into Africa and then Western Europe. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean, which offers a supply route to the United States, Eastern Europe and the new Asian markets. García said it’s clear to her that many regions within Ecuador are becoming involved in drug trafficking, “not just the traditional Putumayo region in the north.” Ecuador’s function as a regional drug hub has become even more attractive thanks to its use of the U.S. dollar as its national currency. “The drug trade carries more baggage than simply the narco-trafficking,” said Carrera. “It also brings with it money laundering” — creating a window of opportunity for money laundering operations to co-exist with drug sales, decreasing the risk and making it more convenient for drug cartels to operate within Ecuador. In addition, it seems far more dollars are circulating within Ecuador than the amount of currency which enters legally. This, said Carrera, “means there are extra dollars entering from somewhere other than through regular national income operations.” By Dialogo October 15, 2012center_img ATPDEA gives farmers an incentive not to grow coca Even so, in the last three years, the seizure of narcotics by Ecuadorian security forces has jumped significantly. The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) reports that in 2010, confiscations came to seven tons — but that by 2011, seizures had risen to 11 tons. Also last year, authorities shut down 13 drug processing labs throughout Ecuador. So far in 2012, Ecuador has already seized more than twice as much drugs as all of 2011, reported the Quito newspaper La Hora. In addition, seven clandestine drug labs have been shut down this year. Carrera said not a week goes by without a new seizure of a cocaine shipment or the discovery of new laboratories. In March, Ecuador’s top military strategists warned of the threat posed to their country by powerful groups like Colombia’s Rastrojos crime syndicate and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. The warnings were contained in a 225-page review leaked to local media. Yet experts still aren’t sure what accounts for the sudden explosion in trafficking. One possibility is the country’s geography. “Ecuador’s porous borders facilitate trafficking in all directions,” said Carrión. He pointed out that to the south lies Peru, one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocaine. Use of U.S. dollar makes Ecuador attractive to smugglers At the recent Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, the region’s leaders showed a “true desire to find another approach to the drug situation,” said Carrión.” Latin America’s presidents and parliamentarians must, he said, adopt “a well-rounded strategy which encompasses many remedies.” As such, Ecuador’s National Assembly is now debating a law that would allow drug users to be treated as patients, not criminals. This would let the state invest in rehabilitation clinics — similar to what the municipality of Bogotá is doing. The country is also considering the legalization of certain drugs for medical purposes, as Uruguay has done with marijuana. Dealing with the increasing presence of drug trafficking in Ecuador also requires international cooperation. One effective tool has been the country’s traditional cooperation with the United States, which in 2002 enacted the Andean Trade Preference Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) to benefit Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Under ATPDEA — which expires on July 31, 2013, unless the U.S. Congress renews it — tariffs on Ecuadorian products entering the U.S. market have been drastically reduced or eliminated. That has created an incentive for local farmers to grow legal exports such as coffee, cocoa or flowers instead of harvesting coca leaves for a much more lucrative, but ultimately riskier, business. Meanwhile, Ecuador’s national police force has boosted its level of internal monitoring while successfully combating drug rings within the country. The military has also increased patrols along its northern border with Colombia, where trafficking routes and drug labs are most common. However, “this is not going to be enough,” states Carrera. “The drug industry is already establishing roots in this country.” I liked it, but it could have been more specific about Ecuador and its relationship with drugs. For example, it could have reported what the Ecuadorian government’s official position is on the legalization of marijuana in Uruguay (a news report could be written about this, you know).Warm regards.last_img read more

Long Island Weather: Storm to Erode Beaches

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island is bracing for possible beach erosion and power outages as a storm brings strong winds, rain and coastal flooding to the region Wednesday.The National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory warning of up to 57 mph gusts that expired at 11 a.m., when the winds are expected to diminish through the afternoon. A coastal flood advisory remains in effect through 2 p.m.The saturated ground combined with the winds increases the possibility of downed trees and power lines, according to NWS. The Long Island Power Authority reported more than 3,100 outages of their 1.1 million customers as of 10:30 a.m.NWS said in its coastal flood advisory statement that up to 11-foot Atlantic waves combined with astronomically high tides that are more than two feet higher than usual are expected to erode ocean beaches.LI’s barrier island’s had already been dealing with erosion issues before Superstorm Sandy decimated the dunes on Fire Island and similarly hammered Westhampton Beach, Jones Beach and Long Beach.The chance of showers is forecast to continue Wednesday evening into Thursday before clearing up Friday to give way to a sunny Saturday and Sunday.last_img read more

Letters to the Editor for Sunday, June 23

first_imgWrite in McCarthy on Working Families lineFellow Working Families Party members: please write-in Gary McCarthy in the primary for Mayor of Schenectady on Tuesday (June 25).In my lifetime, I’ve never seen as much progress in this city than under the McCarthy administration.Gary’s the best candidate for working families.He’s cut property taxes four years in a row, led the effort to rehab blighted properties in our neighborhoods, and his administration has overseen a 36 percent decrease in major crimes.As a union member, I’m glad that a vacant brownfield site on the river became the bustling Mohawk Harbor which has hundreds of good paying union jobs.When it comes to Gary’s opponent, I’m concerned about her past tweets supporting far-right Republicans like state Sen. George Amedore.Amedore has voted against marriage equality; banning conversion therapy for minors; gender discrimination protections in employment; taking guns away of convicted domestic abusers; and, banning bump stocks, which were used to kill 58 people in Las Vegas.I’m a progressive. Anyone who supports far-right candidates like Amedore is not one.Schenectady has made tremendous progress under Mayor McCarthy’s administration. While there’s much more work to do, there is no better executive to keep the progress going then Gary McCarthy.Patrick WeingartenSchenectadyHow can Trump benefit from honor?To all the Never Trumpers and conspiracy theorists, what, if any, benefit does the current president stand to receive from the nearly simultaneous naming of an area in Israel being named in honor of him to the announcement of his re-election campaign?Will it encourage any voters? Could this be another campaign law violation?Al PirigyiBurnt HillsPraying for president is not a profane actIn a recent column by Michael Gerson, Franklin Graham was accused of “ profaning the gospel”  in his request for church leaders to announce June 2 as a day to pray for the president.By definition, profane can mean taking a spiritual entity and making it secular or worldly. Thus, Mr. Gerson’s opinion that Mr. Graham’s request for prayer was profane.He added that such was asked to protect the president from the “spiritual darkness” of this current world of which he even thought himself a part. The legacy of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association from which Franklin Graham has emerged as its current leader is well known .It is simply wrong to believe Franklin Graham’s intent to be anything but solidly based on the gospel of Jesus Christ and simply promote a day of prayer for our country’s leader.To add a verse from Paul’s letter to those in Ephesus, Paul incidentally a believer in the true gospel message. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.” (Ephesian 5:15)How could such a request for prayer be profane?Nancyjane BattenScotia Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAct now to get guns off of our streetsThere are too many guns in the wrong hands.There are too many drive-by shootings and other shootings in the Capital District and other nearby areas. We read it in the newspapers and hear it on the TV news almost every day.This has to stop. Our laws are too easy. We should have tougher gun laws that if someone is caught with a gun they should not have, the penalty should be a few years in jail to start.We should also advertise that if anyone is caught with a gun, they will be put away for a long time or they can turn the gun in now, no questions asked. Give a time limit on this and that’s it. I think you will see lots of guns turned in if the sentence is really a long jail time.We have to take our streets back once and for all. Enough is enough. Let’s act on this now.Sid GordonSaratoga Springs More from The Daily Gazette:Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more

Ebo Esar Osei writes: Realizing the SDGs in Ghana through Sports

first_imgThe Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a ubiquitous shriek to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that people enjoy peace and prosperity in the world. And Ghana is no exemption to the call.The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ran their full life cycle. The essence of the goals is to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.Fortunately for Ghana, our current president, Nana Akufo-Addo and his predecessor, John Mahama have taken turns to wear the enviable crown of co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Sustainable Development Goals Advocates. This should count for something.Over the years, sports have proven to be a tool in development in Ghana. With the world changing and gradually becoming a singular unit with many components as countries, there is the need to see sports as an important tool in realizing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Ghana.In order to be able to harness this tool for effective nation-building prospects, it is important for all sporting activities, whether major or minor be seen as a consequential instrument in realizing these SDG’s.Sports in Ghana can be used as a platform to speak on achieving these 17 global goals. This article provides an understanding of how it can be realized in Ghana.SDG 1 and 2: Focus on the amputee national teamSDG 1 and 2 are on reducing poverty and hunger respectively. Sports is an avenue to express oneself through their talent. These athletes can use the sport as a platform to help solicit for funds to generate revenue for poverty programmes and to facilitate the mobilization of resources to raise the living conditions of people.Per reports by the United Nations, there is a strong bi-directional link between poverty and disability.In our part of the world, once a person suffers one disability or the other, he or she becomes unemployable and with that comes poverty.So paying attention to persons with disability who have sporting talents or interests could help raise these people from poverty.Disability can cause poverty by preventing the full participation of persons with disabilities in the economic and social offerings of their communities, especially if the appropriate supports and accommodations are not available.As such, it is important to focus on the Ghana Amputee Football Association which has struggled to gather funds for their athletes to even represent the country in tournaments.Little attention is given to them and in realizing SDG 1 and 2 in a bid to eradicate poverty, persons with disability should be a source of hope in sports and as such, they must be adequately funded and paid to cut down poverty and hunger.In the United States of America, sports facilities such as Lakeshore, and Huff Hall Gym are readily available for athletes to train and prepare for events. However, in Ghana, there is zilch.SDG 4: Our ladies, our future SDG 4 talks about quality education. Education here encompasses formal and even informal and other forms of training and apprenticeship programs. On the national plane, we see a lot of efforts going into education. The Free SHS programme, for example, is a major game changer and is a major cost centre for government.In a bid to provide quality education for everyone, there should be in place a national academy to train female athletes, coaches, and referees.This should be a holistic task to help these ladies who want to have a career in sports have an understanding of their body, build their mental capacities as well as harness their talents to get recognition for themselves and the country as well. It is important to note the role of women in nation-building and therefore, attention must be given to ladies in the country and in sports especially.The disparity in funding for female sports programmes compared to their male counterparts must change to encourage a lot more women into sports.SDG 5 and 10: Equal payment for allThe gender pay gap cuts across almost every industry and sports is no different. But between particular sports, there are vast discrepancies in pay for men and women, ranging from tennis, where pay is comparable, to basketball, where players are in entirely different zip codes.According to Forbes, tennis players are the only female athletes to rank among the overall top earners over the last decade with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova and Li Na featuring in the list.In sports, where much energy is exerted by athletes either male or female, it is important that athletes are treated equally.In Ghana, just like many countries, female athletes, especially footballers are paid less.The sad part of what happens in Ghana is that these female footballers and athletes have to beg for what is due to them after representing the country in a tournament.In short, all athletes, despite your gender should receive equal pay.SDG 9: Make use of technologyCreativity, innovation and artificial intelligence have become the currencies of the modern world.As such, sports in Ghana is not insulated from the swift changes that are taking the world by surprise.Ghanaian athletes now can have access to information on how to live a balanced life to be able to reach the apex in their careers.Technological advancement has changed sports so much and Ghana needs to tap into it.This will help in effective preparations for any other tournament and help win laurels for themselves and the country.As everything becomes increasingly connected, there should be proper cohesion between the use of technology and sports development in the country.In conclusionDespite the challenges sports face in Ghana, it still carries vast positive power and the passion of it can help breed a peaceful world with equal opportunities, proper use of technology and the discovery of diverse ways to help make the world a better place for all.last_img read more