Category Archives: drug trade analysis

Belize: Transnational Organised Crime, the State and Human Smuggling

An Analysis of the Special Audit of the Immigration and Nationality Department of Belize by the Auditor General of Belize

The Auditor General of Belize carried out an audit of the Immigrant and Nationality Department (IND) of the Government of Belize for the period 2011-2013 which was placed online. This analysis will focus on the nationality of persons listed in the audit report of having received valid Belizean visas, permanent residency status and Belizean passports illicitly as this illustrates the strategy of organised crime to obtain licit Belizean visas, and nationality documents as revealed in the audit report.

The audit report in Table 1 lists 28 individuals who were issued visas, then Belizean nationality and passports although they didn’t qualify for the Belizean nationality and passports. Persons from China accounted for 20 individuals listed on Table 1 out of 28 or 71.42%. Ukraine and Russia were next with 2 individuals each followed by Lebanon, India, Saudi Arabia and the USSR with 1 each. Persons from China overwhelmingly dominated this category. Three successful applicants without sponsors listed on their applications each had a letter dated January 29, 2013 written by Minister Erwin Contreras in their favour to the Director of the Immigrant and Nationality Department.

Table A.1 lists 15 individuals who received visas then permanent residency status thereafter in contravention of the Policy and Procedure Manual. These 15 individuals received permanent residency status which they didn’t qualify for. All of the 15 individuals were from China.

Table B lists seven successful applications for visas supported by government ministers. The seven visas were issued without the necessary supporting documents supplied. At the Belize North Border Station (BNBS) there were three successful applicants listed: two from Honduras supported by the intervention of Hugo Patt and one from Paraguay supported by Elvin Penner. At the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) 4 applicants were successful two from India and two from Nepal all supported by Edmond Castro.

Table C lists the details of the nine visa stubs from the Belize West Border Station (BWBS) that were missing hence unavailable for the audit. The visas were issued to nine applicants with their countries of origin as follows: Colombia 2, Japan 2, Salvador 2, Singapore 1, South Korea 1 and Nicaragua 1. The audit report states that 8 visa foils were stolen and sold to officials of the Belize City Council. Even before recovery of the 8 visas officials of the Belize IND decided to issue these visas but without the visa stickers/foils in order to earn revenue and not lose it by discarding these visas. But the audit states that 134 visa stubs were not presented for audit nor on hand at the BNBS and PGIA stations. Which points to an operational reality common to the Belize IND during the period of the audit. It’s noteworthy that of the 134 missing stubs 1 was cancelled with 133 visas issued on these stubs 62 missing stubs or 46.26% were issued to Russians, 25 to Japanese with the remaining 46 to a wide range of nationalities as Honduras and El Salvador 7 each, Chinese 6, Colombia 5, South Korea 4, Montenegro and Serbia 2 each. It is apparent from this table the nature of the flow of persons into Belize and the fact that members of transnational organised crime groups can utilise this flow given the operational weaknesses of the Belize IND highlighted in the audit report.

Two visa applicants from China used the same passport size photograph for their visa applications which were approved on July 24, 2013 and two visas issued the same day without the Director’s approval and signature on the two application forms. The visa applications of both Chinese applicants were recommended by Minister John Saldivar.

Five Cuban nationals incarcerated at the Belize Central Prison were granted visas to stay in Belize upon their release from prison in spite of the fact that all five presented copies not the original of their Cuban passports. Four of the five Cubans presented references with their visa applications but these references were not attached to their approved visa applications.

833 applicants used their US Visas or US Permanent Residence Cards to obtain Belize visas from the BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA in keeping with stated regulations of the Belize IND. The audit report states that 18 persons with expired US visas were granted Belize visas. Of the 18 persons approved for Belize visas 8 were Chinese. The audit report states that there was no evidence that the veracity of the US visas and the US permanent residence cards were verified before the Belize visas were issued. The report states that 7 persons were granted Belize visas on the basis of expired US permanent residence cards. Much more important the audit report states that there is no evidence that persons granted Belize visas on the basis of having a US visa whose country of origin triggered the need to have a DINS and security clearance check done of the applicant were the DINS check and the security clearance done. A Russian female applicant is granted a Belize visa on the basis of being in possession of a US visa but on the application form no proof of this is attached to the said form.

Visa application forms were processed, approved and Belize visas issued even though the applicant didn’t sign the visa application form at the BMPS, BNBS, BWPS and PGIA. Applications for visas were approved and issued even though these applications carried no passport size photograph of the applicant. Visas were issued on applications where a photocopy of the photograph of the applicant was attached. Visas were issued at BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIP where the application forms didn’t have a photocopy of the bio page of the applicants’ native passport attached.

The salient issue that arises so far in the order of presentation of the audit report is the security and veracity of the immigration and naturalisation process of Belize. The possibility exists and is real as a result that you have persons holding Belizean visas, permanent residence status, Belizean nationality and a passport who are not whom and what they say they are! What has been described so far is an apparatus manipulated by agents of the Belizean state that facilitates human smuggling through Belize as a transnational organised crime illicit enterprise. This is an apparatus of power on which the power relations between agents of the state of Belize, the politicians of Belize and transnational organised crime are exercised thereby giving life to the mechanisms of power between the players. This power relation in turn supports a hierarchical edifice of organised crime where the bottom feeders are always on the alert to feed off the stragglers of the edifice. Commanding the apex of this hierarchical order are the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) with their partners as the snakeheads of China and their affiliates the gangland coyotes of the trade in humans in Central and South America.

What is apparent is that the apparatus accommodates requests by clients who are seeking bona fide legal Belizean immigration and naturalisation documentation. But there is a diversity of demand ranging from the request for visas alone to enter Belize for express purposes, there is the demand for visas that rapidly evolve to the receipt of permanent residence status and there is the demand for rapid naturalisation and the issuing of a Belizean passport. The demand for these documents regardless of the eligibility of the applicant is what drives the demand side of the apparatus. A demand side that is then an illicit enterprise seeking the services of agents of the state to provide a licit service. The demand side of the apparatus given the level of services sought from agents of the state insists on the utilisation of organised crime especially transnational organised crime to create and maintain this illicit enterprise sustainably. The demand side is defined by a price range for services which is influenced by the service offered and its severity in terms of breaches to the relevant body of law and the nature of demand for the range of possible services.  The premier package will then involve the granting of a visa then permanent residence culminating in the granting of Belizean nationality and a passport in rapid succession in contravention of law. The demand for specific packages then depends on having the resources to afford any said package and the strategic need for a said package. But in the spaces created by the apparatus other players not affiliated to hegemonic transnational organised crime will constantly seek to play in the field of this licit/illicit enterprise with specific power relations between the hegemonic player and these small players. These power relations inject violence as a given within these spaces.

The agents of the state operating within the spaces of the apparatus are called upon to respond to two opposed realms of power relations: the realm rooted in law and organisational power relations and the illicit realm rooted in an illicit enterprise where violence is a given and the basis of discipline. These involved agents of the state operate in at minimum two diametrically opposed worldviews which render them bi-polar at the level of worldviews, perception and action. The common mechanism to cope with this reality is to use the pursuit of self- interest as the cement of the matrix. The reality is that the apparatus is not sustainable as with the passage of time the agents of the state pursue paths of action which threaten the very sustainability of the apparatus whilst the clients demand volumes of licit documents that threaten the very survival of the apparatus as greed pervades both sides of the equation coupled with fear of retribution and the collapse of the feeding trough.

In its pursuit of its personal agenda in a bi-polar perceptual terrain agents of the state present the gravest threat to the state. As they cannot exclude persons who present threats to the state when they are clients of the illicit business partners of the agents of the state. The agents of the state active in the illicit enterprise must fail to exercise the power granted to them by the state to safeguard the security of the state in the interest of the illicit enterprise when a client of the illicit business is involved. The rule is those who present threats who are not clients of the illicit business it’s open season on them which allows the agents of the state to indicate to the social order that they are in fact doing their job. The state then becomes reliant on the vetting of clients by the transnational organised crime group as clients bent on attacking the state are bad for business. But what about the smaller, bottom feeder groups who have no such qualms? It’s business as usual! The lesson is then grave as there is no permissible tolerance level for such illicit enterprises as inevitably the safety of the state is challenged. But what if the politicians of the state are also involved in the illicit enterprise? Then the change agent is compromised and the state and social order become trapped in a terrain where the spaces under the control of the state become steadily eroded. The state is progressively weakened, it loses its monopoly on violence and its hegemony is openly challenged. In this condition its ruling elites are noted for impotence in the face of the threats to the state.

The audit report continued with presenting its findings which exposed the extent the agents of the state were operationally willing to go to facilitate the illicit enterprise of human smuggling. The findings that dealt with breaches of the regulations governing sponsors of applicants for visas exposed the depth of the facilitation process illustrating the nature of the illicit enterprise.

Visas were issued at BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA to applicants even though there were no required letters of financial support from sponsors attached. This letter is a declaration of the sponsor as to the relationship between the sponsor and applicant, the ability of the sponsor to financially support the applicant during her/his stay in Belize, the income of the sponsor and the legal status of the sponsor in Belize: a citizen of Belize. The audit report states that 3,791 applications presented to the audit team at BMPS, BWBS, BNBS, and PGIA had no letter of financial support attached. In Table K of the audit report the names of four sponsors who submitted incomplete letters of financial support for applicants. Three of the applicants are from China and one from India. The three sponsors of the applicants from China have Chinese names and the sponsor for the applicant from India has a South Asian name.

Applicants were issued visas at BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA with proof of the source of funds by their sponsors missing from their application. Bank statements, bank books, cash and credit cards and employment letters from the sponsors were all absent from these successful visa applications. Business certificates, and trade licenses were used and accepted by the immigration officers at BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA as proof of the financial ability of sponsors. The audit report states that no proof was found that these documents were in fact confirmed as being valid and the audit discovered that visas were issued on the basis of fake documents. A total of 40 applicants with their sponsors were listed in the report as having failed to submit proof of source of funds. There were sponsors listed who were sponsors of multiple applicants. Of the 40 applicants, 34 were from China and their sponsors all had Chinese names. The remaining 6 comprised 2 applicants from Syria, 1 from Honduras, 1 from Nicaragua, 1 from Brazil and 1 from South Korea. In addition, fake documents and bogus businesses were used by specific sponsors to sponsor multiple successful applicants for visas. This is a potent indicator of organised crime and its power relation with the Belize IND. The list of those sponsors who used a bogus business to sponsor applicants comprised 2 sponsors with Chinese names who sponsored multiple applicants with Chinese names as follows: One sponsored 8 applicants and the other 6. The third and final sponsor listed sponsored 4 applicants with Arabic names with the name of the sponsor also being Arabic. There were three sponsors listed who used fake/bogus certificates to sponsor applicants two of the three had Chinese names and the third had a South Asian name. One sponsor with a Chinese name sponsored 12 applicants with Chinese names whilst the other sponsor with a Chinese name sponsored 7 applicants. The third sponsor who had a South Asian name sponsored 4 applicants with South Asian names. The report lists those sponsors who presented business certificates as a certificate of registration and a trade license that didn’t exist in the Belize Company Registry. There were four sponsors listed with three having Chinese names and one with a South Asian name. Those sponsors with Chinese names sponsored only applicants with Chinese names and the sponsor with the South Asian name sponsored applicants only with South Asian names. The three sponsors with Chinese names sponsored a total of 17 applicants with Chinese names and the sponsor with the South Asian name sponsored 2 applicants. Transnational organised crime involved in human smuggling into Belize has now tapped into the market for forged official documents thereby expanding the market for and by extension the level of illicit activity on the market for fake/counterfeit official Belizean documents necessary for the illicit trade in humans.

The report highlighted the failure of the BMPS to retain in its records copies of documents of all applicants for fixed periods of stay in Belize. This was also the case at BNBS, BWBS and PGIA. This void created in the records therefore facilitates the illicit enterprise and is necessary to the attempt to maintain some semblance of lawful operational standard to ensure the illicit enterprise is sustainable. But the daily operation of the illicit enterprise within a licit state agency breeds impunity and breaches of operational methodology multiply even though they are not strategically necessary to the sustainability of the illicit enterprise. This is highlighted in the audit report by the reports of officers not signing and dating applications, not certifying that copies of documents are in fact true copies and not utilising official questionnaires or attaching them to applications. Impunity breeds threats to the state as it does to illicit enterprises provided that those with the powers of state oversight must be willing to intervene to retrieve the situation. The reality described in the audit report is a Belize IND in a feeding frenzy as agents of the state are in pursuit of maximising their take from the illicit enterprise by monetising all requests made for their services. There is then no strategic selectivity which means that tension soon arises between agents of the state and transnational organised crime where transnational organised crime will utilise specific methods to ensure compliance by rogue agents of the state. The apex of the range of solutions isn’t necessarily murder as there exists a range of potent threats that flow from the public exposure of the involvement of the agent of the state in the illicit enterprise and the fallout thereof. Usually the certainty of a graphic death at the hands of El Sicario is quite effective.

At the time of the audit nationals of the following countries required a DINS and Security clearance be done having applied for a visa: Afghanistan, Algeria Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Korea (North), Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia and Sudan. Visas were approved for nationals of these countries without the necessary DINS and Security clearance being done. The audit team was informed that persons of the listed countries in possession of a valid US visa were automatically granted a Belize visa. The veracity of the US visa was not confirmed through US channels. This reality then presents the gravest threat to Belize as an illicit enterprise joined at the hip with a licit state agency has compromised the security apparatus that the Belize IND is charged with policing.

To maintain the integrity of the process of the Belize IND the stock of blank and used visas must be secured and there must be oversight of the system. The audit report stated that at the BMPS, BNBS and BWBS the stock of blank and used visas were not stored in safes but in cabinets. No evidence was forthcoming to the audit team that the Officers in Charge/Port Commanders regularly audited the visa foils, the visa registers and the cash books. No evidence was forthcoming that personnel of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Nationality regularly audited the stock of visas held at the stations. No evidence was forthcoming that the Director of Immigration and Nationality on an ongoing basis monitored her/his staff at the BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA. According to the audit report oversight where it exists is weak and ineffective where it does not it’s business as usual. Which resulted in the position of the report that internal controls were very weak at BMPS, BNBS, BWBS and PGIA. On the issuance and control of blank passports and Meryl Sheets the audit report states: “We noted that internal control was very weak when it came to the control and issuance of Blank Passports and the management of Meryl Sheets. It is evident that the Department lacks management in planning, control and organization of vital documents.” The Department is then in an operational condition that renders it incapable of repulsing the threat posed by transnational organised crime in Belize. The operational condition of the IND enables organised criminal activity falsifying the discourse of corruption in the state sector.

The licit state agency by its operational process is enabling a sustainable illicit enterprise situated in the bowels of the licit state agency premised on a working alliance with transnational organised crime.

The data listed in the appendices of the audit report provide insights into the terrain of transnational organised crime that agents of the state in the illicit enterprise of the sale of state immigration and naturalisation documents navigate on a daily basis. It’s readily apparent that agents and operations of Chinese transnational organised crime is the most widely listed reality of the appendices. The next is the major operational presence of Russian transnational organised crime. With the operations of the MTTOs being the masked hegemon of the illicit order. As all transnational organised crime groups operating within the bounds of this illicit enterprise are impacted by and have to recognise the hegemony of the MTTOs over the illicit trades of Belize. The MTTOs dominate the flow of persons into Belize from Latin America who are using Belize as a jump off point to Mexico whether they exit Belize in a short or longer time frame. Then there are those who enter Belize to work in the structure of the illicit trades of Belize including those in command and control positions. Then there are those who enter Belize seeking to establish hustles which require they engage with the state as legal entry is vitally necessary to open doors to ensure operational security. The snake heads of China sell their service packages for licit entry to Belize demanding payment in advance. Those who can only afford the budget/economy packages are the most liable to become targets of extortion where they become bonded to the snake heads to dispose of as they see fit. Those from China who are utilising family ties to a resident of Belize are still faced with the task of running the gauntlet of the snake heads and the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) ultimately to access the services of the illicit enterprise. Those seeking to bypass these gate keepers will then seek out agents of the state and politicians willing to offer their services. To do so places one in peril as the long reach of the arm of ethnic and race based transnational organised crime is soon felt. Those appendices which show persons resorting to fake legal documents for sponsors of applicants not only illustrate the activities of organised crime but more so of those seeking to run hustles in the illicit immigration business that must by pass and run parallel to the operational methodology of transnational crime. The reality is when a client purchased a premier package upon arrival in Belize there is a seamless transition to the granting of a visa which will not be picked up by the audit team. Those who paid for budget packages or choose to hire out independent service providers within the agency for a cut rate fee are predominantly those who made the appendices of the audit report. The cost of the service package purchased directly determines the quality of the product delivered. The difference between being named in an audit report and being a ghost in the apparatus of the agency. Are these successful applicants who they say they are on the applications lodged at the Belize IND? For the right price paid in US dollars no you are not!

The Chinese and the Latin Americans have always viewed Belize as a staging area in their strategy for illicit migrants to enter the US. What is now apparent from the audit report is the growing range of nationalities now traveling to Belize for the same reason. Persons from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East are now in the mix and this is the result of the hegemony the MTTOs now exercise over human smuggling in the Caribbean basin. The depth and expanse of the operational activity of the Chinese snake heads in Belize indicate an operational presence that has evolved from the foundation the Triads laid during British colonial domination in Belize to the snake heads of the Peoples’ Republic of China today with smuggling links to the US and Canada laid under the Triads maintained to the present. But the snake heads have evolved the smuggling strategy to now include permanent settlement of Chinese in Belize where they work in snake head owned enterprises both licit and illicit and are moved around the Caribbean basin to work in snake head owned and controlled licit and illicit enterprises. The snake heads finance the front businesses which then receive and absorb the Chinese transported by the snake heads to the Caribbean. This movement then masks the parallel illicit enterprises which now have a dual flow structure with people and goods from China as synthetic drug precursors and fake goods. With illicit drugs, precious stones, gold, diamonds and animal organs as fish bladders etc. to China. The skinheads are now suppliers of Chinese sex workers to the Caribbean basin.

The salient questions that arises from the revelation of the audit report of the activities of the Russians in Belize are as follows: Is it a gateway as is the case with the Chinese, Latin Americans and others? Is Belize an operational base for money laundering and the acquisition of a nationality other than Russian? Is Belize one operational area amongst others in the Caribbean basin where Russian organised crime blends operationally with the MTTOs, their partners and affiliates? What is the nature of the organisational structure of Russian organised crime in Belize?

Analysis of the audit report raises the issue of the nature and functioning of the state in neo colonial social orders in the Caribbean basin premised on the Westminster model of government. With constitutional decolonisation/independence these former British colonies inherited the expanse of contested spaces in the social order created by the British colonial state. Over time since independence the expanse and depth of these contested spaces have evolved, expanded and heightened because of the failure of the ruling elites to grasp the necessity of specific types of power relations in these states founded on the established constitutional model. Emphasis has been placed on sovereignty and law to the detriment of the necessary and compulsory task of discipline and domination premised on mechanisms of the nexus: power/knowledge. Failing to grasp the reality that power must be exercised or it’s exercised upon you it’s not a thing to be held, owned nor is it an entitlement.  The ruling elite is mesmerised by the discourse of sovereignty which renders them monarchs with the prime minister being the prime monarch in their own minds. Mechanisms of power/knowledge must be unleashed towards the generation of discourse which drives the application of power in relations where discipline/domination is the strategic aim. The fixation with sovereignty generates the belief that a special group holds power by law and must not be challenged which obviates the need for exercising power/power relations throughout the social order as their power is a given even an absolute. This position has then driven the expanse and depth of contested spaces in the social order as it gives space to rebellious power/knowledge and their attendant discourses to challenge those who are under the delusion that power is an object they hold. Those addicted to sovereignty concentrate on general elections as the only relevant power struggle they are concerned with and with victory comes the spoils of dominating the state. This further enhances their refusal to grasp the need for engaging in the production of apparatuses and mechanisms of power with its attendant knowledge and discourse of truth towards disciplining and dominating the social order. But this failure has now resulted in general agencies of power as state institutions incapable of responding to threats to the state. For the general forms of power must be constantly renewed by the mechanisms created in response to power relations on the ground in the quest for discipline and domination. In these states the general agencies of power have fallen into stasis precipitating a crisis of sustainable survival of the state and its social order.

The ruling elites especially the politicians have responded to this crisis by insisting that the problem is state corruption. But they will never see much less publicly admit that the problem is the manner in which the ruling elite defines power and its operation within the context of the Westminster model of government. The prime driving force of the social order presumed under the Westminster model is the domination of the social order by power/knowledge and its power relations masked by the discourse of sovereignty and law. Where law and sovereignty serve and enables power/knowledge in its quest for discipline/domination. The ruling elites don’t get the message as they are still trapped in a colonial worldview failing to understand that there was no Westminster model applied under the colonial order. This was the order of massa, smiles and blood and you simply cannot hope to replicate this colonial order today.

The independence experiment in the British Caribbean colonies was then premised on an attempt to graft unto a colonial order a mechanism of power that was not organic to that of the colonial order. In fact, the two mechanisms of power are diametrically opposed and the colonial order rejected the graft. The independence experiment is then in tatters as the ruling elite has created a state and its social order that is a Frankenstein monster, neither colonial nor Westminster. The state is not then corrupt it’s malformed, undernourished, brain dead and non-sustainable exemplified by the chronic violence and the inability to change regardless of who rules in conjunction with the so-called inherent superiority of the oligarchs. Primarily the result of the addiction of the ruling elites to the discourse of sovereignty is seen where they insist that the primary issue is attacks on the state not the moribund operational nature of the general mechanisms of power of the state. For no one should avail themselves of the opportunity to assault the state and those who do can only do so via state corruption. A discourse that denies the history of the evolution of the power/knowledge state form from reason of state to biopolitics from whence the Westminster model came.

The discourse of corruption is then another product of the delusion of the ruling elite which addresses nothing and solves nothing for the problem is the ruling elite in the context of the organic demand of the Westminster model. Lumpen elite, lumpen state, violent social order.



“Special Audit-Visa Immigration and Nationality Department for the period 2011-2013” Office of the Auditor General of Belize



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!




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!

The Lessons Afforded by the Licit Opioid Drug Market of the USA on the War on Drugs

The Opioid Epidemic Created by the Licit Drug Trade in the USA

In the National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) Summary 2015 of the DEA the number of drug poisoning deaths for the period 2008 to 2015 by medications which include controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) were 200,113 persons, for heroin 51,506 persons and cocaine 39,890 persons. Licit controlled and uncontrolled drugs are then the major cause of drug poisoning deaths and in this category CPD opioids are the dominant cause of drug poisoning death. For the period 2007 to 2013 drug poisoning deaths caused by CPDs opioid analgesics was 110,615 persons with heroin 30,338 persons and cocaine 34,203 persons. The opioid epidemic in the USA has then two realities that impact the drug market for opioids: CPD manufactured, distributed and retailed via a regulatory structure and the illicit market where heroin, and licit and illicitly manufactured opioids are marketed at the wholesale and retail levels. The DEA in its 2017 NDTA states: “The threat posed by controlled prescription drug (CPD) abuse is prevalent. Every year since 2001, CPDs, especially opioid analgesics have been linked to the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class, outpacing those for cocaine and heroin combined.” Again the 2017 report states: “the number of individuals reporting current use of CPDs is still more than those reporting use of cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, MDMA, phencyclidine (PCP) combined” The discourse of the opioid epidemic in the USA is then aggressively seeking to mask the reality that the opioid epidemic is in fact the failure of the regulated licit market for opioid analgesics. A licit drug trade fostered by deliberate attempts to subvert the regulatory structure combined with the failure to regulate and the intervention of ruling politicians to weaken the regulatory structure. These measures have unleashed on the US population a CPD opioid addiction problem which has spawned an illicit opioid market joined at the hips with the CPDs supplied opioid drug market. Where demand for opioids generated by supply from the licit market is now entering illicit opioid markets seeking affordable and regular supply. With the Mexican traffickers responding to this demand by raising the purity and lowering the price of its heroin to ensure that illicit opioid markets under their control can hold on to and generate new customers on a sustainable basis. This strategy drives the sale of fentanyl on illicit opioids markets by the Mexican traffickers today.

On the extent of the CPD opioid abuse problem in the USA the 2017 NDTA states: “Survey, treatment and demand data indicate epidemic levels of CPD abuse. More individuals report current use of CPDs for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined, making CPD use second only to marijuana. In 2014, there were 128,175 treatment admissions to publicly-funded facilities for non-heroin opiates/synthetic abuse, a decrease of approximately 32 per cent since 2011, when 188,920 admissions were reported.” The use of the generic concept controlled prescription drug (CPD) is another instrument of the discourse to mask the reality of the epidemic spawned by the licit drug trade in opioid analgesics. The use of persons admitting themselves to interventions that are publicly funded for treating with opioid addiction is also a very limited measurement tool of the expanse of the use of and the number of addictions to opioids in the population of the USA. The explanation the DEA gives for the decline in persons presenting themselves for intervention programmes in public funded facilities is as follows in the 2017 NDTA: “This decline in part can be attributed to CPD abusers switching to heroin or other illicit opioids. Some CPD abusers, when unable to obtain or afford CPDs, began using heroin as a cheaper alternative offering similar opioid-like effects. Other reasons for the decline in admissions could include the success of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, pill abusers seeking treatment at private facilities and increased efforts from law enforcement and public health entities.” The DEA simply has no research backed explanation for the decline in admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities but it admits that the licit drug trade in opioids created demand for illicit opioids. This illicit demand in fact resurrected the heroin market of the USA in the 21st century constituting a gift to Mexican trafficking organisations. The 2015 NDTA on the issue of abuse states: “The number of treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for non-heroin/synthetic opiates in 2012 was 36.5 per cent higher than the number in 2008; however the number of admissions declined from 2011 to 2012.” The political need to illustrate success in the opioid war therefore accounts for this discursive line which masks the reality of addiction on the ground, how the victims of addiction to opioids deal with their existential reality, how the state responds to their addiction and addiction driven behaviour and the expanse of demand for opioids in the US diet for drugs. The politics of reporting any decline is illustrated in the 2017 NDTA with Figure 18 titled “Number of Admissions to Publicly Licensed Treatment Facilities by Primary Substance, 2014” which covers the period 2009 to 2014 where 1,828,413 persons (an average of 130,601 persons per year) were admitted for treatment with heroin as the primary substance and 949,833 persons (an average of 67,846 persons per year) were admitted for treatment with non-heroin opiates/synthetics as the primary substance. One cannot conclude from these admittance statistics that heroin abuse in the USA dwarfs CPD abuse as the DEA says no. What then is apparent for the period according to the DEA report is that more heroin abusers enter treatment facilities than CPD abusers which is linked to the reality that one is a licit product whilst the other is illicit and heavily policed and sanctioned. CPD abusers therefore show an inclination to evade treatment facilities which impacts the annual number entering treatment. This attitude flows from the discourse of licit opioid use unleashed in the USA which promises to banish pain with very little threat to the welfare and well-being of the user. A discourse which denies the pharmacology of the opioid to enable maximisation of profit for licit enterprises.

All licit and illicit drug markets are driven by the nexus of supply and demand especially so in the drug business where supply begets demand. The supply side of the licit opioid drug market then impacts both the licit and illicit opioid markets of the USA. The supply side of the CPD market is potently illustrated in the 2016 NDTA figure 36 “Number of Dosage Units of Opioid Narcotics Disbursed to Retail Level Purchases by U.S. Distributors 2006-2015 (in billions)” where for the period 147.5 Billion units were disbursed to retail level purchases. When the figure for 2016 is added it rises to 161.5 Billion units. For the period 2006 to 2016 the monthly average is 14.68 Billion units. With an estimated 2017 US population of 325.3 million persons the number of dosage units disbursed at the retail level per monthly average amounts to 45 dosage units for every man, woman and child in the USA on a monthly basis. This not the supply side of a licit regulated opioid market where a drug is being prescribed to deal with a medical problem fully cognisant of the threats posed by the drug to the user and the limitations of the drug in dealing with the problem it was prescribed for. This is a licit regulated market where regulatory agencies have failed to prevent the deliberate strategy to evolve a licit drug market into a hybrid licit drug market. Where the pursuit of the maximisation of profit has subverted regulation and breached the safety of end users of licit opioids. The 2016 and 2017 NDTA report that 99.2 million dosage units were lost for the period 2009 to 2016 which potently illustrates that the epidemic is the product of and fed by the licit supply of opioids acquired through the regulatory process of prescription and purchase of the prescribed opioid from licit regulated suppliers. Prescriptions and sale of opioids via the regulatory process is maintained by the distributors of the regulated opioids and by the manufacturers who by their production volumes determine the nature of supply. A willingness to distribute licit opioids to regulated outlets in volumes which clearly outstrip the population of the catchment areas which the regulated point of sales serve can then potently indicate the drive for profit maximisation has then breached the regulatory structure.

The structure of prescriptions for CPDs are then illustrative of not only the prescribing habits of the USA but also of the nature of the abuse of CPD opioids and the failure of regulation of this licit drug market. In the 2017 NDTA there are 4 opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol and codeine) in the prescriptions issued for the top 10 CPDs with hydrocodone and oxycodone being the number 1 and number 2 drug prescribed respectively. In the 2017 NDTA figure 24: “Top 10 Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs) Written in Millions of Prescriptions, 2011- 2016” presents the sum of prescriptions written for the 4 opioids by year and for the period. By year for the period 2011 to 2016 is as follows: 2011-269.3 million, 2012-271.5 million, 2013-263.8 million, 2014-255 million, 2015-236.9 million and 2016-223.8 million. The total prescriptions for opioids within the top 10 CPDs for the period were: 1,520.3 million. By prescriptions for the 4 opioids of the top 10 CPDs prescribed for the period is as follows: Hydrocodone-746.1 million, Oxycodone-360.3 million, Tramadol-257.2 million and Codeine-156.7 million. The basis of demand in the USA for CPD opioids is a predilection to immerse the population of the USA with prescriptions for controlled opioids particularly hydrocodone and oxycodone. Which is illustrated by the number of dosages of controlled opioids sold on the licit retail market seen in figure 25 of the 2017 NDTA: “Top 10 Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs) Dispensed in Billions of Dosage Units, 2011-2016”. By year the dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed were as follows: 2011-19.7 billion, 2012-19.8 billion, 2013-19.2 billion, 2014-18.4 billion, 2015-18.3 billion and 2016-16.3 billion. The total number of dispensed units of controlled opioids for the period 2011 to 2016 was 110.7 billion dosage units. By controlled opioid the dispensed units for the period were as follows: Hydrocodone-47.8 billion dosage units, Oxycodone-26.4 billion, Tramadol-19.6 billion and Codeine-16.9 billion. Of the controlled opioids within the top 10 dispensed CPDs hydrocodone accounted for 43.17%, oxycodone-23.84%, tramadol-17.70% and codeine-15.26%. The decline in the number of dispensed controlled opioid dosages that commenced in 2014, continued in 2015 and heightened in 2016 is cited as a noteworthy development in the response to the opioid epidemic. But the volume of dosages of controlled opioids that were dispensed in spite of the reduction continues to drive demand and as a consequence addiction, overdoses and death is the result.

Prolific prescribing of controlled opioids then drives the dispensing of billions of dosage units of controlled opioids per annum which is the supply that relentlessly begets demand which is accommodated by the prescription pill mill, by acquisitions from licit holders of a supply of controlled opioids, by illicit acquisitions from the licit supply structure and by turning to illicit drug markets for supply of controlled opioids and/or illicit opioids as heroin. A single licit holder in a single family household can set in train the dynamic of use, abuse and addiction by persons who are not bona fide holders of prescriptions for controlled opioids. This is the product of the volume of prescriptions issued and the volume of dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed as a result per the population of the USA. The tsunami of supply has resulted in controlled opioids being the most available opioid on the market thereby limiting the level of demand for illicit opioids. For the level of demand for illicit opioids is directly linked to the dynamics of the controlled opioid drug market as the illicit opioid market has no dynamic unique to it as it is forced to respond to supply issues that arise in the controlled opioid market. The licit drug market has captured the illicit drug market seen in the fact that the retail price of diverted controlled opioids on the illicit market commands a premium on the streets that drives demand to heroin. Demand for controlled opioids outstrips that of heroin and those unable to tap into a supply line from the licit structure has to pay a premium on the streets. This is the product of the prescription and dispensing mills for controlled opioids in the USA. The regulatory framework for controlled opioids has been breached facilitating profit maximisation to the detriment of personal safety and well-being.

One instance of the power relations of a licit drug market that impacts the regulatory agency of the Federal government of the USA and its designated task under law was highlighted by a joint Washington Post and CBS “60 Minutes” investigation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The investigation revealed that lobbyists hired by the US drug industry effectively lobbied Congress to have legislation passed in both the House and Senate that effectively reduces the ability of the DEA to prosecute particularly the distributors of controlled opioids for supplying these controlled substances to those empowered to write prescriptions for and dispense these opioids considered by the DEA to be sales to “shady” operations in other words pain pill mills and dispensaries. What is noteworthy in this affair is that the DEA and the Justice Department under the Obama administration did not object to the legislation to the Congress and reportedly neither to then President Obama who signed it into law. The licit drug business of the USA has then illustrated its power to coerce the DEA and the Justice Department of the federal government. In its quest to supply controlled opioids in an already oversupplied market without due consideration to the end use of the controlled substances they sold and the impact on human lives they then emasculated the already compliant DEA. Another potent lesson of the discourse of neo liberalism and its fetish of Homo Economicus in action. This is the behaviour in a licit drug market that is no different from that of the illicit drug market with one salient grave difference: the power wielded by the players of the licit drug market over the political institutions of the state. This is the disadvantage of the players of an illicit drug market when faced with competition from a licit drug market as in the opioid market of the USA.

The DEA approved the manufacturing output of controlled opioids as is their power under law that set the whole train in motion in the licit opioid drug market. The DEA then approved the manufacturing output that drove the marketing drive (supply begets demand) to have billions of dosage units of controlled opioids dispensed which means sale of the units manufactured under approval of the DEA. This tsunami of production/supply conjured up demand that evolved into the opioid epidemic which means greater demand and maximisation of profit. End use has nothing to do with this. Faced with the political blow back from the monster created the supply side players have indicated their power to subjugate the DEA further to ensure that the industry fully exploits the demand horizon generated by the opioid epidemic. In this quest the DEA, the Department of Justice and the elected politicians complied willingly and faithfully.

The political discourse of citing the illicit drug trade for the opioid epidemic is but another attempt to ensure that the licit drug market is made sustainable and remains dominant and hegemonic. Mexico and China are the villains of the piece and the DEA responds to the political discourse by showing what it’s doing to crack down on the illicit drug trade whilst the law that has emasculated its regulatory power over the licit opioid drug trade is still on the books in your face! The new buzzword is illicit fentanyl manufactured by the Chinese and the Mexicans sold on the streets of the USA not the hydrocodone and oxycodone manufactured in the USA and dispensed in billions of dosage units.

There are lessons to be learned on the nature of the war on drugs prosecuted by the USA and the nexus between the licit opioid drug trade and the state in the USA. The licit drug trade is relentlessly obsessed with maximising profit through maintaining the level of supply that begets the level of demand necessary to maximisation of profits. To accomplish this state regulation has to be complicit and servile whilst the illicit market must not be able to offer the same controlled opioids for sale at competitive prices. The manufacturers, distributors, dispensers and prescribers have then formed a supply cartel which determines the price of their products on the illicit market creating a price point where alternatives are sought for their affordability. The state has then to police the illicit market to ensure the sustainability of the hegemony of the cartel that runs the licit opioid market and the hegemony of the licit over the illicit market. Whenever the rules governing the use of drugs change enabling the creation of a licit market for a previously illicit drug the players of the licit market will inevitably move to dominate the illicit market and strive to create the supply side cartel of the licit market that dominates the licit market. And in this quest the intervention of the state is strategically necessary thereby setting in train the means to purchase political influence. This is the process that is being held up by the discursive agents of the war on drugs who continue to strive to dismantle this evolutionary process in the marijuana market of the USA. Specific states of the union have started the process whilst others have refused but most importantly the potent restrictions for the creation of the licit markets reside at the federal level. At present what exists is a stalemate which is hindering the evolution of the licit marihuana market but cannot destroy the changes made. But already in states involved in the process of creating the licit market the dynamic and the power relations of a licit market moving to dominate an illicit market with the other attendant realities are apparent.

The war on drugs in the USA shows the propensity to create licit drug markets that embody the basic operational strategies of illicit markets and much more importantly the players of the licit market exercise and exhibit the power to ensure the compliance and support of the state utilising the political mechanisms of the state. This power is exercised to the benefit of the players regardless of the reality of the pharmacology of the opioids they sell in relation to human consumption. A comparison with the opioid use reality of Europe on this note is instructive. The Europe Drug Report 2017 states: “Comparison with developments in North America is also relevant to an analysis of Europe’s opioid drug problem.  A review of the data in this report suggests that, while the overall EU situation remains different, some parallels do exist. One difference between the two regions, is that in Europe, very few clients presenting for specialised drug treatment do so for addiction to opioid pain medicines. This probably reflects the different regulatory frameworks and approaches to marketing and prescribing that exist between Europe and the North America.”

It’s fitting to end with a quotation from the executive summary of the 2017 NDTA of the DEA as follows: “Drug poisoning deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States; they are currently at their highest ever recorded level and, every year since 2011, have outnumbered deaths by firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicide and homicide. In 2015, approximately 140 people died every day from drug poisoning.” The licit opioid drug market is the largest single contributor to this human carnage on a daily basis in the USA. The victims of drug abuse and addiction are the collateral damage of the “War on Drugs”. The high cost of addiction levied on opioid abusers, their families and the social order must be factored into this discussion. For the daily life of addiction and its impact on the abuser, his/her children and family and the social order assaults the sanctity of human life and the need for human existence that is emancipated from the drive to satisfy the cravings of a chemically altered brain. A condition in which nothing is sacred your body, your life, your safety, your children and your family in your quest for the fix. A grave sentence to a netherworld where the collateral damage of the war on drugs is consigned to in the USA.


St Lucia 2017: The Escalating Murder Rate

Gun Violence in St Lucia 2017: The Ravages of the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECCTP)

In 2012 the murder rate of St Lucia was 21.6 with 39 murders. In 2014 there were 29 murders with a rate of 16.43 whilst in 2015 there were 28 murders for a rate of 15.80. Murders declined from 2011 to 2015 with the lowest number of murders in 2015 since 2007. In 2016 the rate rose to 17.41 and as at November 1, 2017 the rate was 26.90 making 2017 a bumper year for homicides breaking the trend of rapid decline from 2011 to 2015.

The reality is that the equilibrium attained on the supply side of the St Lucia drug market in the period 2011 to 2015 began unravelling in 2016 creating a supply side war in 2017. The supply side of the St Lucia drug market comprises product transitioned through St Lucia for export to the EU and the US, product transitioned through St Lucia for smuggling to Martinique and Guadeloupe and product for local consumption. The grave changes in supply have impacted the ganja markets and the pipeline from St Lucia to Martinique and Guadeloupe. With the creation and evolution of the ECTP a direct flow of product has been established to Martinique and Guadeloupe thereby bypassing St Lucia this comprises cocaine, ganja especially premium ganja, meth and ex. This has impacted and changed the power relations of the St Lucia to Martinique/Guadeloupe pipeline thereby displacing those who are not connected to a secure source of supply. Those operating the direct pipeline to Martinique/Guadeloupe are also exerting their power over the drug markets of these overseas French territories thereby by illustrating their hegemony. This has displaced operators with the blowback felt in St Lucia. The emphasis is now on premium ganja to Martinique/Guadeloupe and the EU this has reduced the volume of low grade ganja on the local market in St Lucia which has fed the ganja wars which are common throughout the Caribbean island chain today. There is a drive to fill the ganja supply void via imports from other sources and local production but the displacement in the supply and trafficking sides of the market will continue to drive the wars and the body count in the future. Without a steady and reliable source of supply your illicit business collapses and you resort to violence to remedy the shortfall. Such is the life.

Multiple supply side market displacements and restructuring is impacting St Lucia resulting in the rise in the number of murders and gun violence in 2017 to which must be added the response of law enforcement in Martinique and Guadeloupe to violent crimes perpetrated by St Lucians in both territories. St Lucians in both territories run the risk of now being policed selectively given the designation of being criminogenic. This will also impact the course and intensity of the wars in St Lucia as those in the life flee Martinique and Guadeloupe for St Lucia and seek to replicate their illicit enterprises in St Lucia.

The reality of gun violence and murder in St Lucia in 2017 is another expression of the impact of the ECTP on the Eastern Caribbean island chain as the social order evolves under the pressure of the dynamic unleashed by organised crime in the Caribbean island chain. Pax Mexicana!

As at November 9, 2017 the homicide count was 50.

January 3, 2018

The murder count for 2017 was 60. The St Lucia drug market is being impacted by the hashish especially Moroccan hashish imported from France to Martinique and available on the Martinique drug market. The value of this product and its supply structure has set in train a new variant of the ganja wars in the Caribbean. This is a product the value of which makes it worth dying for for those seeking supply.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, Gun Crimes, Murder and the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP)

In 2016 St Vincent and the Grenadines (StV&G) recorded 40 murders for a murder rate of 36.482 which paints a picture in which gun violence is present and illustrated not only by the number of murders as a result of gun violence but also the number of shootings which did not result in death. The month of September 2017 was a particularly bloody month which spilled over into October 2017 but at a reduced pace. There were 9 murders in September with four persons surviving being shot with 7 persons killed in the final nine days of September. An analysis of the nine murders and shootings reveal the prosecution of a war on the ground for hegemony over the illicit economy of StV&G in which innocent bystanders are viewed as collateral damage. What is noteworthy is the willingness to shoot to death women gangland execution style and in the pursuit of their target to shoot women in the company of their target. One development in September 2017 that must be noted is the murder of a young female by a group of females in a home invasion of the victim’s family home murdering her in full view of her family. This is another murder that reeks of gangland modus operandi/styling and it’s a development that must be closely monitored in StV&G as it involved young females. What is noteworthy amongst the gangland shootings is the taking out of persons who were known break and enter and robbery artistes including those who recently exited the prison system. Usually this points to the possibility of taking what is not yours as a quantity of drugs, guns and cash etc. and the tit for tat killings roll out in gangland which provides the excuse for a power grab. In October 2017 the gunfire from 4 masked gunmen on the patrons of the Road Side Bar at Diamond resulted in 8 shot with one subsequent death as a result and 40 spent shells were recovered from the scene. From reports of the shootings and murder events the gunmen/shooters are all masked, they arrive on the scene in motor vehicles without number plates or they simply walk up to their targets do the job and walk away. The Diamond shootings were then a message sent to those who controlled the Diamond turf that it was now contested turf. The number of murders as at October 2017 at the time of writing was 33.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves in response to the Diamond shootings stated that there are 5 “associational groupings with criminal activity” in StV&G. The Prime Minister listed the operational bases of the associational groupings as follows: the electoral constituency of East St George, three in the Kingstown conurbation including the areas of Ottley Hall, Edinboro and Sharpes and in the South Leeward constituency. The Prime Minister stated that these 5 groups are in competition with each other in various spheres of activity and in the course of this battle for dominance these groups will contract foreign personnel to prosecute the war against their competitors. Prime Minister Gonsalves is then blaming the 5 organised crime groups of StV&G for the gun violence that has targeted those assets marked for elimination and the innocent bystanders who are the collateral damage of this war for hegemony. Prime Minister Gonsalves speaking on the issue of the illicit small arms and ammunition trade into StV&G stated that there are multiple points of origin of illicit arms entering StV&G but those he mentioned were: the USA, Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. The Prime Minister’s position therefore raises the question of the volume of the trade and the capacity of the state to interdict the arms flow to the extent to impact the operational capacity of the 5 organised crime groups.

The reality of StV&G has to be placed in the context of the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP) and the special position of StV&G in this trafficking pipeline. The ECTP was created to move cocaine and heroin up the Eastern Caribbean island chain to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with an ancillary flow of cocaine into the French overseas departments and British colonies. Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname are the jump off transition zones of the pipeline with sea vessels being the dominant means of trafficking. All islands within the pipeline are then faced with an immediate and palpable increase in the volume of illicit drugs moved through their territory and more importantly exported from their territory to the EU, Canada and the USA.

St V&G is unique in the operational structure of this pipeline as it’s a premier production and export point for ganja both within the Caribbean and to the drug markets of the eastern seaboard of the US. Organic, high potency ganja presently fetches a wholesale price in these cities especially in New York which has created high grade organic ganja into a commodity worthy of fighting and dying over. Organic, high potency ganja grown in tropical, volcanic soil is then an apex/premier product of the pipeline attracting the level of investment by organised crime groups into production and trafficking that demands the hegemony of organised crime over the industry much more transnational globalised organised crime who are in fact the premier investors. These are the Caribbean affiliates of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) who in joint action created and manage the ECTP.

The producers and traffickers of StV&G who are now affiliates of transnational organised crime groups that control the ECTP are traffickers of all the illicit products and participants of all the illicit enterprises of the pipeline. Such as trafficking cocaine, small arms, fuel and human smuggling in addition to ganja. Inclusion into the pipeline explodes the wealth generation capacity of the StV&G groups and impacts the terrain of the underworld in StV&G. The major issue is hegemony as the affiliates of transnational crime that control the pipeline must now exert hegemony over the underworld, gangland and The Game. Gangland affiliates are used to protect the interests of the pipeline on the ground and they share in the bounty of the pipeline turning them into transnational traffickers. This change impacts gangland as it creates glaring imbalances of wealth and power on the ground and those left out of the bounty react with a vengeful violence seen in the graphic violence used on targets especially with instruments other than guns. It also feeds a frenzy within the lower levels of gangland especially amongst the “baby bandits” that is expressed on the public especially the aged. The operational rules of the pipeline result in the exclusion of non-members of the pipeline from access to the products of the pipeline. Retail markets not under the control of the pipeline are then starved of product and the war for supply commences which only ends when the pipeline supplies product or an alternate supply is found. This is clearly seen in the retail ganja markets of the Caribbean as product shortages on the supply side have fed ganja wars for supply and the move to grow product locally to supply local demand. As ganja producers stress on quality for export rather than lower quality with its lower prices for local consumption the low end market is now in the grip of a supply side deficit which breeds wars of supply on the ground. The war on the ground impacts the murder rate it does not drive it. To prosecute a war on the round requires sustainable resources which demands a sustainable supply of illicit products to maintain the earning power of the organised crime groups at war. The prime weapon is then to contract or end the supply side of the group you are at war with. With this accomplished the enemy simply shrinks, shrivels up and surrenders. The MTTOs are adept at squeezing supply and this is bolstered by giving up their targets to state law enforcement agencies.

The discourse of the new and alternate social order spawned by the illicit trades is illustrated in the spaces liberated from the hegemony of the state where all conflict is mediated through violence and the rule of the violent not law is the primary driver of the murder rate in trafficking transition zones as the Caribbean island chain. This challenge to the hegemony of the state and its hegemonic discourse is what is being expressed in StV&G today. The geographic areas of operation of the 5 organised crime groups of StV&G named by the Prime Minister are the prime contested spaces. Whilst the violence flows the changes to the nature of the social order are being affected which then expands the expanse of violence as a daily instrument of human survival and interaction. Eventually the change generates a sustainable momentum of its own in the absence of state intervention at the strategic juncture.

St V&G is in the grips of an evolutionary phase of its underworld and gangland never experienced before brought about by the impact of the ECTP on St V&G. Its underworld and gangland is in the grips of the great leap forward which will drastically change the nature and structure of the social order of St V&G. The issue is not only to identify the 5 organised crime groups but to place them in the dynamics of the ECTP and the consequent impact on the social order of St V&G and the rest of the Caribbean island chain.

January 3, 2018 The murder count for 2017 reported is 41. The impact of the drug markets of Martinique especially and Guadeloupe are impacting the drug market of St Vincent through the importation of hashish especially Moroccan hashish from France. Hashish on the drug market of Martinique especially is now flowing into Caribbean ganja markets which has spawned a feeding frenzy with the result being violence in an attempt to secure a supply of hashish. This is a new variant of the Caribbean ganja wars. In Martinique hashish is exchanged for cocaine where you purchase hashish with kilo bricks such is the extent of the depth of demand. Those in possession of hashish in St Vincent are now targets for attacks as the value of Moroccan hashish makes it a product worth dying for.

Guyana and Brazil joined at the Hips: Pax Mexicana!

Guyana: Illicit Airstrips and Illicit Air Flights

In September 2016 an aircraft was found abandoned near to the village of Yupukari in Region Nine, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana. The aircraft was under man-made cover in an attempt to hide it and was reported to have been disabled rendering it unable to fly which indicates organisation and strategy. The aircraft was subsequently linked to the illicit drug trade and of Colombian origin. In August 2017 an aircraft was abandoned at an illicit airstrip five miles west of Santa Fe in the Upper Rupununi, Region Nine, Guyana. The aircraft was abandoned on an illicit airstrip discovered two weeks previously by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) but no illicit goods were reported seized from the aircraft.

Both cases of abandoned aircraft and the illicit airstrips in Region Nine indicate that there is organised crime in the region involved in this illicit airlift as the airstrips are constructed and maintained and the flights into and from Region Nine involve the operation of ground handlers. The operation in Region Nine is not in keeping with the model of illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean basin to terminal points as in Central America. There is then a specific dynamic that involves Region Nine, Guyana that enmeshes it into a regional pipeline that embraces Roraima state, Brazil and Guyana as a trafficking transition zone to the Eastern Caribbean Trafficking Pipeline (ECTP), Suriname and French Guiana and an export point into a counter flow of the said pipeline. Cocaine entering Roraima state is fed into the Amazon pipeline via the Rio Negro with Guyana now configured as a delivery point for airlifted cocaine in Region Nine which is then trafficked into Roraima state from Guyana then into the Rio Negro pipeline. Region Nine, Guyana borders Roraima state, Brazil with the major border crossing at Lethem, Guyana. Cocaine landed in Region Nine is then moved to the ECTP and to Suriname and French Guiana for the jump to Europe. Region Nine is not the only or the most important trafficking point for the entry of cocaine to Guyana it’s simply part of a complex and strategic flow of product for the trafficking organisations.

With the apparent drop, depart and return methodology utilised on the Region Nine run the flights can accommodate product moved from Guyana after the cargo for Guyana is dropped off and this is ideal for gold, diamonds and other valuable minerals to enter the pipeline leaving Guyana illicitly. The Guyana-Roraima state, Brazil pipeline has also enabled the growth and production of ganja for export in Guyana to the Roraima pipeline. Which has facilitated the emergence of Guyana as an exporter of ganja within the region and the involvement of Guyanese in the trafficking of ganja in the region and external of it. The drop, depart and return methodology enables the movement of coca paste into Guyana where it will be processed into cocaine hydrochloride then exported which is stage three of the evolutionary development of trafficking under the hegemony of the Mexican Transnational Trafficking Organisations (MTTOs) as exhibited in areas where the MTTOs operate as Central and South America and Europe. The drop, depart and return methodology has developed for Guyana primarily because of the inability of the Guyanese state to control access to its air space as it lacks the assets and the military infrastructure on the ground to do so. Geography and the chronic weakness of the Guyanese state are being exploited to the benefit of the MTTOs. Geography and a weak state have now conspired to create a specific trafficking dynamic with its pipelines.

These developments and its impact on the social order are ongoing in Guyana as the Guyanese state cannot defend its territory and integrity from the assault of the MTTOs. Faced with the illicit flights into Guyana the government of the day has admitted publicly that there is little it can do to stop said flights. Guyana and Suriname are the reflections of Hispaniola on the north coast of South America where they are both being exploited by the traffickers to expand the drug market of Brazil and to realise Brazil as the premier drug export point to Europe and Africa from South America. And to turn French Guiana into an export point to France and the EU. Guyana and Brazil have been joined at the hips by the strategy of the MTTOs. Pax Mexicana!

September 30, 2017

The nexus between the state of Roraima, Brazil and Guyana was potently illustrated with what has been placed in the public domain following the murder of the owner of some 19 gold dredges with some 120 Brazilians in his employ operating in Cuyuni, Region 7, Guyana. The murdered Brazilian gold miner Antonio Da Silva has been identified as Siviomar Antonio de Oliviera a fugitive from Brazilian justice. De Oliviera was incarcerated in 2004 for killing his wife, in 2008 he was implicated in the murder of inmates of the Monte Cristo Agricultural Penitentiary where he was incarcerated. In 2011 de Oliviera escaped from the penitentiary and remained a fugitive from justice in the Brazilian state of Roraima. The murder of Da Silva/de Oliviera this week opened the can of worms.

To have killed whilst in prison repeatedly meant that de Oliveira was a member of a prison gang of the Monte Cristo penitentiary which illuminates his ability to escape from the prison, escape the police of Roraima and flee to Guyana. What must now be explained is how a prison gang member on the lam a fugitive ends up with the mining concessions to run 19 dredges with some 120 Brazilians in his employ in Guyana? To purposefully display his face in public as a known wealthy Brazilian gold miner and trader in Guyana yet remain off the radar screen of the police of Roraima state, Brazil? To have some 120 Brazilians in his employ and retain his impunity in Guyana free from the clutches of Brazilian police? Was Da Silva a man of straw the front man in an operation under the control of the overlords of the prison gang he ran with in Monte Cristo? If so clearly the time was ripe for a change in management personnel carried out in keeping with the tradition of the game. At least he kept his head on!