Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drug Smuggling Increasingly Land Based

As part of its coverage of the security situation in Mexico, global intelligence clearinghouse STRATFOR has posted an informative and timely analysis of the changing nature of the drug trade in the Western Hemisphere:
While the United States remains the top destination for South American-produced cocaine, and Mexico continues to serve as the primary transshipment route, the path between Mexico and South America is clearly changing.
These changes have been most pronounced in Central America, where Mexican drug-trafficking organizations have begun to rely increasingly on land-based smuggling routes as several countries in the region have stepped up monitoring and interdiction of airborne and maritime shipments transiting from South America to Mexico.
The results of these changes have been extraordinary…Notwithstanding the difficulty associated with estimating drug flows, it is clear that Central America has evolved into a significant transshipment route for drugs, and that the changes have taken place rapidly. These developments warrant a closer look at the mechanics of the drug trade in the region, the actors involved, and the implications for Central American governments — for whom drug-trafficking organizations represent a much more daunting threat than they do for Mexico.
Click here for the complete STRATFOR report.

Update: U.S. trucking companies operating in Mexico or near the southwest border have been warned "to establish special security procedures in light of the surge in drug-related violence along the key commercial corridor."

Enemy Combatants To Get Welfare?

In his first news conference as an administration official, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair suggested on March 26 that Gitmo detainees may soon be coming to a Social Services agency near you:
During his news conference, Blair also said the Obama administration is still wrestling with what to do with the remaining 240 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which the president has ordered closed
Some of the detainees, deemed non-threatening, may be released into the United States as free men, Blair confirmed.
That would happen when they can't be returned to their home countries, because the governments either won't take them or the U.S. fears they will be abused or tortured. That is the case with 17 Uighers (WEE'-gurz), Chinese Muslim separatists who were cleared for release from the jail long ago. The U.S. can't find a country willing to take them, and it will not turn them over to China.
Blair said the former prisoners would have get some sort of assistance to start their new lives in the United States.
"We can't put them out on the street," he said.
Blair also said the administration has abandoned waterboarding, but is considering other, unspecified "enhanced interrogation techniques."