Monthly Archives: December 2017

Transnational Organised Crime in Belize 2017

Illicit Trafficking 2017 in the Caribbean: Belize

During the course of 2017 the depth of the integration of Belize into the trafficking pipelines that move product and illicit immigrants into Central America and illicit products out of Central America became even more apparent.

Illicit air flights into Belize especially in the Orange Walk area were illustrated by the discovery of an intact light aircraft in March 2017 and in November 2017 the burnt remains of a light aircraft were found in a cornfield in the same area of Belize. The burning of the aircraft after the illicit load is removed is the preferred methodology of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) rather than abandoning the aircraft intact which leaves a trail to be followed. Loads of drugs continue to be flown into Belize then moved to Mexico or to other destinations. This operation takes place in Belize with a structure in place in Belize by the MTTOs to secure, traffick and protect this operation with gangland being a vital part of this structure.

The illicit products once in Belize are moved to various destinations within and external of Belize via various trafficking methodologies. In November 2016 some 22 pounds of cocaine were recovered from the occupants of a red SUV moving on the Philip Goldson international highway to Belize City. Cocaine entering Belize from the north moves toward Belize City and into its drug market for local consumption and for export. Cocaine entering Belize is now being trafficked into Mexico using trafficking methodology very similar to that used on the Mexico-USA border. Seen in the case of the SUV which crossed into Mexico from Belize at Corozal, Northern Border, Corozal District in December 2017 with some 6 kilos of cocaine in a compartment in the dashboard of the SUV. The driver of the SUV fled Mexican customs towards Belize where he crashed and fled the SUV. Cocaine entering Belize is moved into Mexico via a variety of trafficking methods which indicate the diversity of trafficking activity between Belize and Mexico, the intensity of trafficking activity on the ground and the depth of the operational presence of the MTTOs in Belize.

The diversity of the illicit trafficking enterprise in Belize in 2017 was further illustrated by the interdiction of a motor vehicle on the Philip Goldson highway in September 2017 by the Orange Walk police with illegal Guatemalan immigrants and US dollars in cash. The US cash seized consisted of USD 6,000 in the possession of a non-Guatemalan occupant of the vehicle whilst USD 10,000 was found stored in the vehicle. It is clearly apparent that the occupants of the vehicle consisted of three Guatemalans who entered Belize illicitly on their way to Mexico in their quest to cross into the USA. They then hired the services of the human smugglers to cross them into Mexico the two individuals in the vehicle were then part of the service provided by the coyotes and the cash being transported was the property of the coyote for services rendered to clients. The smuggling of persons into and from Belize to Mexico is another potent indicator of the operational presence and hegemony of MTTOs in and over the illicit trades of Belize. Belize is then an operational member of the human smuggling enterprise of the MTTOs of the Caribbean basin.

Another potent indication of the integration of Belize into transnational organised crime came in December 2017 with the report by Guatemalan media that an organised crime group that purchased cigarettes in Belize, then smuggled the illicit cigarettes via the sea to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala then to El Salvador and Honduras where they were sold on the illicit cigarette markets of these three countries. This was an organised crime enterprise involving members of the Guatemalan military who provided impunity for the cigarette shipments from Belize to Guatemala and an operational presence in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The question that arises is if the cigarettes moved and sold by this organised crime group entered Belize as illicit imports of cigarettes? One news report mentioned the poor condition the cigarettes seized were in.

The existence of dual flow operational trafficking pipelines in Belize is now apparent which points to the nature and sophistication of the terrain of transnational organised crime in Belize. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, the precursors for the manufacture of synthetic and other illicit drugs, smuggling of licit products as cigarettes, cash smuggling and human smuggling are all primary products and activities of these dual flow operational pipelines.

The leaking of the Auditor General’s audit of the issuance of Belizean visas, passports and nationality by the Government of Belize for the period 2011-2013 in 2016 and the subsequent Senate investigation placed into the public domain the complicity of politicians and agencies of the Belizean state with transnational organised crime. The impunity offered and sold via Belizean official visas passports and nationality points to the power wielded by transnational organised crime in the social order of Belize which amounts to hegemony. This hegemony over the social order of Belize enhances the ability of transnational organised crime to project its power into the social orders towards hegemony over these social orders of the member states of CARICOM. Pax Mexicana!




Maduro, Russia and T&T in the Gas Dance

The Evolution of the Dragon Gas Supply: Maduro, Venezuela, Russia and T&T

The government of T&T insisted repeatedly in the public domain that it’s seeking the supply of a daily volume of natural gas from Venezuela which Maduro and PDVSA has insisted will not be supplied fully by the Dragon field of the Mariscal Sucre Project situated offshore north of the Paria Peninsula, Sucre state, Venezuela. The T&T government then stated repeatedly that as the Patao and Mejillones fields of the Mariscal Sucre Project developed gas will be sold to T&T from these fields to satisfy the daily gas supply sought by the T&T government. But Maduro and PDVSA are yet to publicly affirm this position via a public supply agreement. Silence then is now the word on the said gas supply from Venezuela as the visit of Maduro to T&T to sign off on the supply deal is yet to materialise as at December 18, 2017. But Maduro has issued statements from Venezuela and on his foreign travels citing the gas supply deal with T&T as the prime example of Maduro’s embrace of the Caribbean and his new gas driven direction for Venezuela’s energy economy where gas exports via pipelines or as LNG is the new frontier. In these statements the daily gas supply designated for T&T is in line with the daily volume stated by the T&T government in public which means that gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields are in the agreement or what T&T desires will be drawn from the production of the Dragon field. What was clear on Maduro’s pronouncements on the gas supply deal with T&T both local and foreign is that T&T was now his bitch as he has us by the short and curly. In fact, the gas supply agreement with T&T was repeatedly cited by Maduro both local and foreign as the prime indicator of Venezuela’s intent on becoming a reliable gas supplier to its neighbours under the new gas economy. The T&T gas supply arrangement with Venezuela is cited by Maduro as an indicator of his legitimacy as President of Venezuela. Then there was word from Miraflores but we don’t know if that word was in fact accurate or fake news that Maduro had in fact signed off on the gas supply agreement but from the T&T government there is only silence.

On December 17, 2017 the play T&T was now caught in became clearer as Maduro met with Igor Sechin CEO of PJSC NK Rosneft in Venezuela where licences were authorised for Group Rosneft a subsidiary of NK Rosneft to explore and develop the non-associated gas reserves of the Patao and Mejillones fields of the Mariscal Sucre Project. Group Rosneft is authorised by these licences to be the operator of the project and to export all production of these fields as pipeline gas and/or LNG with Group Rosneft and PDVSA each holding 50% of the equity of the project. This event in Venezuela puts in train the Heads of Agreement signed with NK Rosneft in 2016. Russia in the house! T&T in its quest for gas from the Patao and Mejillones fields as of December 17, 2017 now has to dance with NK Rosneft and Putin.

The quest for gas from Venezuela has now sucked T&T into a geopolitical quagmire as gas from a Group Rosneft/PDVSA entity raises the issue of the impact of US sanctions on Russia and Venezuela and how it impacts the conduct of business with Rosneft and PDVSA by T&T entities. Can sanctions placed on Russia by the US be applied to products manufactured from gas sourced from the Rosneft/PDVSA entity in T&T exported to US markets? To step back from embracing Rosneft produced gas can have blow-back on the Dragon supply as the pipeline can slowly go dry. As a step back is a rejection of the business and political model of the gas supplier across the Gulf. Whilst dancing according to the rules of the gas supplier across the Gulf invites the push back from the hegemon in the room summed up in the person of the Donald. Possibly this is the aim of the Maduro dragon dance: to marginalise a geopolitical threat at the underbelly of Venezuela? Consider that in light of the oil play offshore Guyana at present.

T&T is between a rock and a very hard place as we have inadvertently entered a geopolitical game of thrones because of the failure of all ruling politicians of T&T to police the natural resources of T&T to ensure supply that serves the interests of T&T not that of the globalised transnationals. We failed miserably to learn from the Norwegian model. We are now a pawn in a geopolitical battle for regime survival vs regime change powerless to impact and determine the outcome of the game. A pawn to be played to the strategic benefit of the warring parties only. A geopolitical fiasco of our own making. The Dragon will dance on all of us in T&T!


2018: The Beginning of the End of the Drug Trafficking 1% of the Caribbean

2017 The Trafficking Pipelines of the MTTOs in the Caribbean are Fully Functional

2018 the Year of Phase Two

The 2017 drug report of the OFDT of France confirms the effectiveness of the illicit trafficking pipelines of the Caribbean under the control of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) and their affiliates from Caribbean gangland. The OFDT 2017 report does this by concentrating in the report on the evolution of the French overseas departments in the Caribbean namely Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana into in 2017 the third of the three dominant routes for cocaine entering mainland France and by extension Europe. The Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP) created by the MTTOs for specific strategic reasons have in 2017 being all attained. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands remain trafficking points to the US, the Dominican Republic (DR) continues to be the premier trafficking point to the US and trafficking points to France and Europe are booming in the French overseas departments. Added to this are the English speaking Caribbean islands, the British Overseas Territories and those islands in the Caribbean linked in some form to The Netherlands. Then there are the members of CARICOM on the South American mainland linked to the Caribbean drug trade by being supply points to trafficking pipelines namely Suriname and Guyana and finally there is the command and control centre of the Caribbean pipelines: Venezuela. Phase 1 of the strategic plan is then complete, functional and generating profit with its attendant order and its continuing impact on the social order of Caribbean states. What is noteworthy with the pipeline from the French Caribbean overseas departments is the two-way flow of the pipeline with cocaine moving from the Caribbean departments to France and hashish most noteworthy Moroccan hashish moving from France to the Caribbean departments. Hashish from this pipeline is entering the ganja trade of the Caribbean and is feeding ganja wars in these markets separate apart from the common war over supply of herbal ganja. There are then multiple ganja wars as supply is also coming in from Canada and the US. This two-way pipeline especially in Martinique has in 2016 to 2017 impacted the war for dominance in St Lucia seen in the rising murder rate. St Vincent was impacted in 2016 and it continued into 2017 seen in its rising murder rate by the dual flow of the pipeline linking the French Caribbean departments to France. The dual flow of the French Caribbean overseas departments/France pipeline is an indicator of the possibility of pipelines in the Caribbean becoming dual flow pipelines from 2018. Pipelines to Europe and West Africa can become dual flow pipelines if not so already.

The northern quadrant of the Caribbean island chain is now exhibiting the impact of the increased flow of illicit product through these islands to primarily the US and Europe with Canada in a trailing third place. The Bahamas is in play as the jump off point to Florida as south Florida especially is once again a point of entry to the US with product entering The Bahamas from various jump off points. In The Bahamas cocaine and ganja are the prime commodities and a move to local production of ganja is apparent. The increased flow of product into Jamaica for export via the pipelines has impacted Jamaican gangland is combined with the dominance of Jamaica as the premier exporter of ganja in the Caribbean island chain. Jamaican transnational organised crime dominates the export of ganja and is involved in the export of cocaine as they are affiliates of the MTTOs. Through their affiliation with the MTTOs Jamaican transnational organised crime now has an evolved Caribbean operational presence. At the apex of the hierarchy Shower continues to exert hegemony over Jamaican gangland. These developments have fundamentally changed the terrain of gun violence in Jamaica as Montego Bay, the command and control centre of Jamaican trafficking, is now the unrivalled gun murder capital of Jamaica. Those excluded from the bounty of trafficking under the hegemony of the MTTOs and their Jamaican affiliates now wreak bloody revenge on the poor and underclass of St James parish, Cornwall county, Jamaica. The Dominican Republic continues to be the premier trafficking point of the Caribbean island chain. A Dominican ethnic nexus has now evolved between the drug trade, the DR, DR ethnic gangs in the US, Europe and the Caribbean comprising Dominican citizens and/or members of the Dominican Diaspora. On the eastern seaboard of the US Dominicans and Dominican gangs are now players in the drug trade of this region of the US and are now setting up operations in the rest of the USA. This reality is now expressed in the DR with the operational presence of these groups in the DR, the Caribbean and Latin America. The DR operational presence in Spain is also noted. What has moved the Dominicans into positions of power in the trade is their affiliation to the MTTOs.

The MTTOs will not continue to depend on the DR as the premier trafficking point of the Caribbean island chain. The strategy implemented is to create alternate trafficking points to form a series of trafficking points enabling a fail-safe system that drives a tsunami of product to markets of the North Atlantic. In this strategy Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Bahamas and Jamaica are the chosen alternates. Puerto Rico is a work in progress and the financial difficulties of the state, the damage wrought by hurricane Maria with the resulting socio-economic dislocation and the exodus from Puerto Rico are windfalls for the strategic agenda of the MTTOs for Puerto Rico. The affiliate status of specific organisations of Puerto Rican gangland with the MTTOs in Puerto Rico and the US mainland has resulted in the rise to prominence of these organisations and members of the Puerto Rican Diaspora in the trade in the US. The days where Puerto Ricans were subservient to the Dominicans in the illicit trades is now being challenged as they create spaces under their dominance. Haiti and Haitian organised crime affiliated to the MTTOs both in Haiti and the US are charged with the task of evolving Haiti into a premier trafficking point. In this task they are also involved in trafficking to and from The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands and in the voluminous cross-border trafficking with the DR. In the network of trafficking pipelines established and functioning by the MTTOs Jamaica is linked to Central America especially Honduras, to Haiti, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. These pipelines complement the pipelines that link Jamaica to all points in the Caribbean island chain, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Central America. These are all multi-product pipelines with dual flow capacity. It’s then obvious that the task at hand is diversification of the trafficking mechanism in the Caribbean which is well in train and functional. In 2017 the Caribbean basin is then integrated into a network of trafficking routes and pipelines under the hegemony of the MTTOs, their partners as Italian organised crime and their Caribbean gangland affiliates. What is now apparent is the movement of European gangland affiliates of the MTTOs and their partners into the Caribbean for the purpose of trafficking drugs to Europe and to replicate illicit enterprises in the Caribbean they were adept at in Europe such as: payment card scamming, gambling, prostitution and fake goods. The dynamic of Pax Mexicana is then unfolding in its diversity.

2018 The Imperative of Phase Two

In 2018 and thereafter as the strategy of the MTTOs for the Caribbean takes hold and moves to exert hegemony over drug trafficking in the Caribbean the nature of drug trafficking will be further fundamentally changed at its core and this will impact further social orders of the Caribbean. The nature of the drug supply will forever change as the products of the MTTOs will flow only within the membership of the association of the MTTOs: the MTTOs, their partners, affiliates and the affiliates of their partners and affiliates. Wholesale markets will be squeezed of supply and the dislocation will heighten the gun violence. In fact, wholesale markets will collapse which enables the strategic move of The Association/Asociacion to dominate all Caribbean retail markets for products traded by The Association: cocaine, ganja, meth and other synthetic drugs.

The issue of the security and integrity of the networks of The Association/Asociacion is in 2018 a pressing issue demanding action. One specific threat posed to the networks of The Association/Asociacion in the Caribbean arises from the old order of the Valle Norte organisation of Colombia in the Caribbean which The Association/Asociacion is intent on eliminating from the Caribbean. This Valle Norte order created indigenous Caribbean traffickers resident in the Caribbean who are the dominant group of the Caribbean oligarchy ensconced within the Caribbean private sector. These oligarchs dominate the social order of the Caribbean territory there they are resident and are especially linked to the politicians of the Caribbean and agents of the state. The Association/Asociacion and these traffickers are then on a collision course as the operational presence of The Association/Asociacion intensifies in the Caribbean towards exerting hegemony over the illicit trades as the supply of product to these oligarchs dry up save and except they become affiliates. The threat arises with the response of these oligarchs to this supply reality of the MTTOs. Will they utilise their political influence and social dominance to have Caribbean states engage with the MTTOs in a bid to ensure their survival in the illicit drug business? The question then in 2018 is what will be the strategic response of The Association/Asociacion to this threat? The oligarchs are especially vulnerable as they have no links to supply, have no trafficking resources The Association/Asociacion needs and worse yet they have no presence in the consumer markets of the US and Europe that merit associational status. These oligarchs are simply aberrations created by a Colombian strategy that has failed and is now being wiped off the drug map of the world by The Association/Asociacion as they recreate the order in their image and likeness.

Can these oligarchs with their power in a comparatively small state space simply surrender to The Association/Asociacion and bow out or settle for what they are afforded? Can they resist the urge to protect their turf by using their political power? In so doing they will present a potent threat to The Association/Asociacion which must be answered. The answer will be in keeping with how similar situations were handled in other areas one example being Central America. Whatever the response the social orders of the Caribbean will be deeply impacted with one result of the displacement of the drug trafficking oligarchs being political instability as revelations of illicit activities and linkages to politicians and agents of the state enter the public domain along with requests for extradition. Then there are the instances of assassinations/hits that send the message certainly not of plata o plomo as there is no silver/plata to be had. It’s already apparent in the run up to 2018 that the oligarchs are under pressure and some have already capitulated to The Association/Asociacion. Only the passage of time will reveal it all especially how the drug trafficking oligarchs react to the new order that has little space for them in their present configuration. Whatever the outcome the social order of Caribbean states will be impacted at its core power relations will its attendant blowback. Pax Mexicana!