How a Quiet Corner of Northern Europe Became a Theatre of Extreme Drug Warfare

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The National Police has intervened in a branch of the Russian mafia implanted in Spain in the recording of a meeting in which a payment of up to five million euros was planned to prevent Luis Bárcenas from revealing compromising information for the Government of Mariano Rajoy . The audio was recorded in 2014, in the middle of the National Court's investigation into Genoa's B box and shortly after the SMS sent by the then president of the PP to his treasurer was published, but it had remained secret until now.

The discovery of the recording has surprised the Marbella judge who is investigating the case. The investigations initially focused on a criminal group of Russian origin that extorted compatriots and laundered money from other criminal activities in the provinces of Malaga and Madrid. The Police arrested the seven members of this organization in December 2020 in an operation coordinated by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. The alleged ringleader was Halit Sahitaj, a Serb who served as Zakhar Kalashov's lieutenant in Spain , one of the great capos of Russia, who was convicted by the National High Court in 2010 and handed over to Moscow four years later.

Conversación Mónica Gil, José Luis Moreno y Juan Ramón Díaz

Sahitaj continued to live and operate in Spain. The agents searched his house on the Costa del Sol and seized abundant documentation related to extortion and money laundering . Among the digital files that this group hid, the audio related to Bárcenas and the alleged illegal financing of the PP appeared . As sources close to the proceedings have confirmed to El Confidencial, the recording was in one of the email accounts used by Kalashov's right-hand man to send threats and communicate with the rest of the members of his organization.

The 22-minute tape shows the alleged maneuver to grant Kalashov prison benefits in exchange for money and negative information about Bárcenas' environment. In the audio, the voices of three people speaking in perfect Spanish are clearly heard . Although in the conversation they only use their first names, this newspaper has managed to identify them. It is about a lawyer named José Luis Moreno, 'José' in the recording; an alleged businessman, Juan Ramón Díaz, who is referred to as 'Juanra', and a lawyer who is currently in jail, Mónica Gil Manzano, better known as the ' celebrity scammer '', sentenced in 2018 for defrauding former Atlético de Madrid soccer player Mariano Pernía, dancer Joaquín Cortés and the late journalist Mila Ximénez, among other characters from the world of entertainment.

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The meeting was held in the office of Mónica Gil, located at that time in the Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca in Madrid. The recording begins with the lawyer introducing the other two participants, who apparently did not know each other until that moment . "José is like my brother (…) So I'll tell you… I told him the subject and that you knew the subject. Well, explain to him what you know," the lawyer asked.

Moreno then took the floor. He said that he was in contact with people from the PP orbit interested in obtaining sensitive information about Javier Gómez de Liaño, the lawyer who at that time was leading the defense of Bárcenas, to force him to stop talking about the party's B box and protect from that way to the Government of Rajoy. "They want to shoot to kill, to kill Liaño, to kill Bárcenas," Moreno said. "They are ready for anything."

People from the orbit of the PP wanted to guarantee the silence of the one who, at that time, was Bárcenas' lawyer, Javier Gómez de Liaño

At that time, 'El Mundo' had already published the messages that the then chief executive had sent to Bárcenas, but in Genoa they feared that new communications would appear. According to Moreno, the PP had sent him to that appointment to obtain data with which to ensure the silence of Gómez de Liaño . The truth is that, at that time, Moreno and another lawyer allegedly involved in the operation and who was arrested a few months ago due to coercion, José Aliste, were moving in the circle of influence in Genoa.

In the audio, Moreno affirms that both he and Aliste knew that Gómez de Liaño had been defending Kalashov . They believed that his colleague could have incurred in irregularities in hiring and charging for his services. The PP's priority was to find evidence to demonstrate these alleged irregularities and put Gómez de Liaño in a bind. "He is very interested. He is very interested and we can benefit him in everything he wants ," Moreno said.

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The third interlocutor, Juan Ramón Díaz, alias 'Juanra', listened carefully. He had attended that meeting as a representative of Kalashov, who was serving a sentence in a Spanish prison at the time . Moreno maintained that, in exchange for the Russian mobster providing sensitive information about Gómez de Liaño and paying a large sum of money, a supposed judicial 'lobby' of the PP, which "pressures the different prosecutors from above", was in a position to automatically set your boss free. "Third grade, fourth grade... We have that (...) We are talking about a high level," Moreno slipped. "Freedom in exchange for information, logically."

Kalashov's envoy approved the offer. "Until now, from what they have offered me, it seems to me the most normal, it is the most sensible," considered the alleged representative of the Russian mafia boss. Initially, the plan was that, in addition to the information on Gómez de Liaño, Kalashov would pay a million euros "on success", that is, at the moment in which the alleged 'lobby' of the PP managed to get him out of jail . But Mónica Gil pointed out that the deal was worth "much more" and that it could not be closed for less than five million, according to the recording. However, the figure did not seem to be a problem for Kalashov's envoy either. "I am going to activate this immediately, because it is the most credible right now," Juanra advanced.

Spain handed Kalashov over to Russia in 2014, which immediately released him.

The Police have confirmed the connection of Juan Ramón Díaz with Kalashov and that, indeed, the offer of the supposed lawyer from the orbit of the PP reached the criminal organization. A few hours after the meeting, Kalashov's envoy sent an audio file with the content of the meeting to the email address of the mobster's right-hand man, Halit Sahitaj. The recording is included in the summary and has been analyzed in detail. All the interlocutors have been identified, although it is not related to the core of the complaint that led to the opening of the procedure.

Kalashov finally achieved something better than freedom. At that time, the Georgian authorities demanded his delivery and he was exposed to another long prison sentence in that country. But Spain ended up handing him over in October 2014 to Russia , which immediately left him on the street. There is also no evidence that Bárcenas revealed new messages from Rajoy. Halit Sahitaj and his group are still charged by the Marbella court and Mónica Gil is in jail. The other two attendees at the meeting, José Luis Moreno and Juan Ramón Díaz, have acknowledged to El Confidencial that they participated in that negotiation, but have not provided further explanations.

Narco-sub being built in tiny town reveals Spain as gangland gateway
Mar 14, 2021
Police discover new narco-sub under construction in Spain, first known narco-sub constructed in Europe; Suspected boss arrested at the airport carrying plans for sub’s construction. The Mob Reporter here with news of organized crime network busted. Let me tell you about it. The raids are further evidence of the important place Spain now holds as the gangland gateway to Europe. The Costa del Sol is becoming a crowded underworld hotspot. Foreign gangsters are settling in the coastal regions to ensure they get a piece of it — South and Central American narcos, Russian and Eastern European mobsters, Italian Mafia, outlaw bikers, British gangsters, Chinese triads, Moroccan traffickers and others with roots in Northwest Africa but now holding European citizenship. LINK: First narco-submarine captured in Europe — sinks with 3 tons of cocaine: https://youtu.be/XqkUigQ0HIE LINK: Inside narco-sub it's dark and cramped but cops fight over it as a trophy: https://youtu.be/IuGF2E8Bdvw LINK: WILD RIDE | Coast Guard jumps onto fleeing narco-sub in Pacific Ocean: https://youtu.be/TssmEdbW-WA

Possibly related:

World Edited by Amit Chaturvedi Updated: May 24, 2022 12:55 pm IST

The assassination attempt took place in Caucasus - a region between Black Sea and the Caspian Sea - shortly after Feb 24, the Ukrainian official said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt, a Ukrainian military official has said. The admission comes amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has intensified, and rumours swirling around Mr Putin's health.

According to Major General Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, the “unsuccessful” attempt took place in the Caucasus - a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea - shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

He spoke about the incident to Ukrainska Pravda.

"There was an attempt to assassinate Putin… He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago,” Mr Budanov was quoted as saying by the Ukrainian outlet.

“This is non-public information. (It was an) Absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened… It was about 2 months ago,” he added.

Ukrainska Pravda said that the full interview with Mr Budanov will be aired on Tuesday.

The claim has not been verified, but comes weeks after reports emerged that Mr Putin underwent a surgery to remove fluid from his abdomen.

The operation “went well and without complications”, the Express report said, attributing the information to Telegram channel General SVR linked to Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service.

Further, an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying "Putin is very ill with blood cancer".

Earlier this month, in an interview with Sky News, Mr Budanov predicted that the Ukraine war would reach a turning point by mid-August and be over by the end of this year, leading to change of leadership in Russia.

He had also claimed that a coup to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin is underway and cannot be stopped.

As far as Mr Putin is concerned, he publicly disclosed in 2017 that he has survived as least five assassination attempts and claimed that he wasn't worried about his safety.

FlashBack
Mar 16, 2022
 

Benjamin

Dagobah Resident
The decriminalization process (small amounts anyway), at least in Canada, seems to have growing traction:


This is just one example, and then there is the supply side, which might likely be fully pharmaceutical/corporatized, and then the distribution side.

Excerpts from Health Canada today (June 1, 2022):


British Columbia is taking a critical step toward reducing the shame and fear associated with substance use as the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health announced the granting of a three-year exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to remove criminal penalties for people who possess a small amount of certain illicit substances for personal use.

This exemption will be in effect from Jan. 31, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2026, throughout British Columbia.
...
[Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health] "Eliminating criminal penalties for those carrying small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use will reduce stigma and harm and provide another tool for British Columbia to end the overdose crisis."
...
This exemption is not legalization. These substances remain illegal, but adults who have 2.5 grams or less of the certain illicit substances for personal use will no longer be arrested, charged or have their drugs seized. Instead, police will offer information on available health and social supports and will help with referrals when requested.
...
"Substance use is a public health issue, not a criminal one," said Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.'s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "By decriminalizing people who use drugs, we will break down the stigma that stops people from accessing life-saving support and services."
...
"This exemption is a vital step to keeping people alive and help connect them with the health and social support they need," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer. "By removing the fear and shame of drug use, we will be able to remove barriers that prevent people from accessing harm reduction services and treatment programs."

"Decriminalizing possession of drugs is an historic, brave, and groundbreaking step in the fight to save lives from the poison drug crisis. Today marks a fundamental rethinking of drug policy that favours healthcare over handcuffs and I could not be more proud of the leadership shown here by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia", said Mayor Kennedy Stewart, City of Vancouver.

At the bottom of the page, there is a link that shows which drugs are exempt:

Which illegal drugs and how much​


Under the exemption, adults aged 18 years and older in BC will not be arrested or charged for the possession of four types of illegal drugs for personal use:

  • Opioids (including heroin, morphine, and fentanyl. See the exemption for the full list)
  • Cocaine (including crack and powder cocaine)
  • Methamphetamine (Meth)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)

Adults (18 and over) in BC will not be arrested or charged for the personal possession of any combination of these illegal drugs that adds up to a combined total of 2.5 grams. Possession above this amount remains illegal and could be subject to criminal charges.
Adults (18 and over) are not allowed to possess:

  • more than 2.5 grams of these illegal drugs
  • any amount of other illegal drugs not included in the exemption

Evidence on effective and safe threshold amounts of these drugs is limited. As this is the first exemption of its kind in Canada, ongoing monitoring from the federal government will inform whether it is contributing to its objectives which includes reducing stigma and harms related to substance use and increasing access to health and social services for people who use drugs in BC.

The 'opioids exemption list' is much longer then just the three listed. I also found that the highlighted portion to be a bit of a red flag because is says 'which includes' but that does not mean 'only includes'. For some reason, I get this vague feeling of something like those MK Ultra experiments done in Montreal in the 50's and 60's.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A former U.S. Marine who ran a ring that ferried tons of cocaine into the country from South America through Mexico has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison, it was announced Wednesday.

Angel Dominguez Ramirez Jr., who holds both U.S. and Mexican citizenship, was sentenced Tuesday in San Diego after pleading guilty last fall to conspiracy to launder money and traffic drugs internationally, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Ramirez, 50, of Tamaulipas, Mexico, will receive credit for nearly six years he already has served behind bars.

Prosecutors said Dominguez ran a group calling itself El Seguimiento 39, El Seg 39 or simply "The Company," that was allied to Mexican drug operations such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the notoriously violent Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

At its height, the organization smuggled about 10 tons (9,072 kilograms) of cocaine a month into the United States and sent at least $10 million in drug proceeds back to Mexico month, authorities estimated.

"Wiretap evidence demonstrates that he controlled every aspect of his organization," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Martin wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

The group used its contacts with corrupt high-level Mexican officials to thwart investigations, authorities said, including Ivan Reyes Arzate, a federal police commander who in February was sentenced in New York to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking.

In her own sentencing memorandum, Ramirez's lawyer said his decision to turn to crime was influenced by trouble finding ways to support himself after a 1994 accident in North Carolina where Ramirez swerved on a back road to avoid hitting a deer. His car flipped off a bridge into water.

The crash killed his two daughters, ages 3 and 4, and Ramirez was seriously injured, ending his Marine career.

"He has never made an excuse for the direction he took, only to say that after the accident, he stopped caring. He was numb," attorney Nancee Schwartz wrote in the memo, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He didn't think or care about consequences because he had experienced the worst."

Struggling to find work, Ramirez was 27 when he agreed to deliver a load of marijuana from Mexico but was arrested in Texas and served about a year in federal prison.

A construction company he started with his brother-in-law failed and Ramirez moved his family to Mexico in 2007 to work with a cousin who was an architect.

There, he met drug smugglers and saw the work as a way to support his family, his lawyer said.

He was arrested in 2016 and was extradited to San Diego, where he pleaded guilty the conspiracy charges.

During a multi-national investigation, authorities seized more than 4.74 tons (4,300 kilograms) of cocaine.
More than 200 agents have participated in the operation to dismantle an international organization #criminal dedicated to the trafficking of #drogas linked to Mexican cartels 24 detainees and 13 records in #Madrid and #Guadalajara

Opening and Mid snip:
The investigation has allowed the seizure of 1,000 kilos of marijuana buds and 37 kilos of cocaine; dismantle two laboratories for the processing and distribution of the drug; and intervene three submachine guns and several pistols, as well as luxury goods for an amount greater than six million euros.

The organization had a structure of companies in Spain, Colombia, Switzerland and Portugal to launder the money from its criminal activities.

The police device, in which more than 200 agents have participated, has ended with the arrest of 24 people and the practice of 13 searches in the provinces of Madrid and Guadalajara.

More than 200 agents have participated in the operation to dismantle an international organization #criminal dedicated to the trafficking of #drogas linked to Mexican cartels 24 detainees and 13 records in #Madrid and #Guadalajara ...

With an extension through Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Colombia, the organization maintained a network for money laundering that was also identified. All as a result of investigations that began at the end of 2020 when the arrival of several people of Mexican nationality from the state of Sinaloa to the Iberian country was detected.

Mid-S

"After several police efforts, it became clear that the family clan was related to people, both Spanish and foreign, with records and convictions linked to the sale of narcotic substances, in a way that facilitated their entry into a new market that was not theirs,” read the official report.

While marijuana plantations and extraction were the primary business, cocaine laboratories were also opened.

During the course of the investigation, the agents detected the arrival in our country of people from South America, whom the organization used as "mules" to introduce cocaine base in brown packages. The drug was processed, packaged, and silk-screened in two laboratories in the province of Madrid to later sell it to people who came from Croatia and the Netherlands with whom they had previously closed deals. In addition, they also had other distribution networks through Chinese citizens and other vendors, located in different locations in Madrid, who even introduced the narcotic substance into prisons.


Marijuana was the base of the illicit business (cocaine to a lesser extent). The production and trafficking of drugs had cannabis as their main product, so they had several plantations. Among the police investigations, the activities of the criminals were intervened on more than one occasion with some 60 tons seized, which, in turn, forced the organization to improve and be more effective in its work.

It's odd that these cartels would be able to compete with Amsterdam's quality-controlled pot industry and why the tourist trade would resort to buying from the black market trade. Still trying to figure this out..🤔

Perhaps these articles give some insight.





Release Date Thu, 06/02/2022 - 12:00
AGUADILLA, Puerto RicoUS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) found Wednesday 794 pounds (360 kilos) of cocaine concealed inside a vessel intercepted heading to Rincon. The estimated value is $7.5 million.
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The Zionists are in part involved with the eternal destruction (ongoing) in the streets of America, that has not been seen, since the 80s and the 90s.

If city officials need a legion of Zombies they flood the ghettos with drugs while education becomes useless under the current woke mandates that destroy their future job prospects. Unable to compete with the surge of skilled Mexican nationals currently flooding the US border.

It's an obvious global pattern of wash, rinse and repeat. Via the CIA.

As noticed with the recent recall of SF DA Bodine in California. Worth a listen (IMHO).

Eight years ago, in the wake of the Maidan uprisings, Ukraine flooded Russia with bath salts and speed. Synthetic drugs became just as popular as heroine in the 1990s. The KhimProm, a group mostly formed by Ukrainian nationals, has been sending up to 500 kg of synthetic drugs to the Russian regions just in a week. This is how Ukraine started a war to destroy Russia from the inside. The sources of this operation can be traced back to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
The supply volumes would have sufficed for an entire city to die from drug overdose. In 2017, Russian law enforcement agencies and security services eliminated the KhimProm.

This was a major drug cartel specialised in synthetics with an annual turnover of 2 billion roubles. Underground production facilities of this kind operate their extended logistics networks across Russia to this day, often staffed with Ukrainians. We talked to Russian law enforcement agencies and convicted drug dealers serving prison terms in various Russian cities to understand why it was Ukraine that has been serving as a talent pool for this sector, becoming the main supplier of synthetic drugs to Russia, and what do the Ukrainian special services have to do with this. Read this article to find out.

Hybrid war

– What do you know about mephedrone and alpha-PVP?

– Nothing, apart from the fact that they are dangerous drugs.

– In that case, we’ll start at the beginning…

This is how Alexander, who works for a Russian law enforcement agency where he specialises in fighting drug trafficking in Russia, started our conversation. Sitting in front of me in a Moscow cafe was a well-built middle-aged man with a thoughtful face and a kind smile. If you stumble on him in the street, in a shop or during a metro commute, you will never think that this modest and straightforward man is an officer who had served in conflict zones and has been fighting international drug trafficking for the past 15 years.

For the past eight years, Alexander and his colleagues have been part of a new undeclared hybrid war in which the enemy has weaponised narcotic drugs.

– Even before that, drug trafficking was one of the most challenging crimes in terms of detection and prosecution. We were able to catch just 5 to 10 percent of the total number of drug dealers. When the hostilities started in Donbass, this share fell to just 1 or 2 percent for the Russian law enforcement agencies, Alexander said.

– Why was that?

– There was more crime. Starting 2014, an inflow of synthetic drugs started from Ukraine – mephedrone and alpha-PVP, the so-called bath salts, accompanied by an influx of Ukrainians who were ready to make and sell these drugs in Russia.

– What have your Ukraine colleagues said?

– The Ukrainian law enforcement agencies severed almost all contacts with us. I believe that they were well aware of this effort to flood Russia with drugs. In fact, this was a kind of a hybrid war that was declared against us, and it has been going on for eight years now.

Recruitment

According to the Interior Ministry’s Centre for Information and Analysis, some 7,200 Ukrainian nationals were detained between 2014 and 2021 on charges of committing drug-related crimes in Russia.

Artyom, a Donetsk native, was among them. Just as law enforcement officer Alexander, he knows what this war is about from personal experience. Artyom is 35, but looks much older. This is probably because of the traumatic experience no one in their right mind would like to go through. Artyom is now serving a sentence in the Ninth Penal Colony near Orenburg, where during his spare time he can marvel at the peaceful sky and the hawks hovering over the Orenburg steppe, but back in 2014, with the Ukrainian army approaching Donetsk, all he saw were explosions and death. When he could no longer stay on the sidelines, he volunteered for the people’s militia.

After several years of service, Artyom resigned and tried to live a life of a civilian. This is when his life made a sharp turn that would eventually lead him to the Ninth Penal Colony near Orenburg.

– I was sitting in my courtyard when I received a message on my VKontakte account. A stranger offered me a job of a delivery man in Russia and promised a good salary of 40,000 roubles. That kind of money would be enough for two months, or at least 45 days, and I could provide for my family. I agreed, and the person behind this correspondence instructed me to travel to Lugansk, Artyom said.

He said that there was a brief job interview in Lugansk, after which he was sent to Russia. Only there did he learn that he would be delivering drugs. Quite predictably, he was arrested, put on trial and sent to the Orenburg steppe.

Other Ukrainians convicted on drug-related charges echoed Artyom’s story about how drug droppers are recruited. In most case, the pattern remained the same: people found job ads in buses, shops, train stations or online, promising work in Russia. The offer consisted of working in a delivery service and the promised salary was quite high, by Ukrainian standards. The person then contacted the employer by telephone or online, and was invited to a café for a job interview.

In most cases, the potential recruit faced two square-shouldered men who promised good pay for performing some kind of work in Russia. They offered the person money for covering travel expenses and renting a place to live, and always gave him a smartphone with СоvегМе, an encrypted messaging app, installed on it with the contact details of the curators. The recruits then travelled to Moscow without suspecting anything was wrong. This is where all the calamities started.

Once in the Russian capital, the droppers were asked to submit a selfie with the Kievsky Train Station in the background, open a bank account to get a bank card and travel to a designated city, where they were supposed to rent an apartment and wait for further instructions. What were these instructions? To find a stash of drugs, divide them into single doses and stash them for retail distribution. This is when it dawned on the recruited Ukrainians that they were about to start their ‘military’ service in drug trafficking in the rank of droppers.

Hot on the trail of the SBU

In addition to their recruitment plans, the drug dealers from Ukraine that we interviewed have something else in common. When you start asking them about who offered them the job, what documents they showed and who supervised them once they arrived in Russia, the convicts begin to get nervous and stop talking, but after a short pause, they reveal that they were drawn into the illegal business by agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Artyom from Donetsk says the recruiter showed him an SBU ID at an interview in Lugansk, and said he was looking for drug couriers to operate in Russia. Artyom gave no details that would help identify that SBU agent. This is understandable. He has a family waiting for him in Ukraine, and he fears for their lives.

But Andrey, a recently released convict, talks a little more freely about his contacts with Ukrainian special services, only asking not to give his last name. It is really difficult to imagine by looking at him that he could do anything illegal. Andrey is a little over 40; born and raised in Ukraine, he later moved to Russia, like many, and started a family and a business – in general, was a typical middle-class Russian, until he got into financial problems in 2014.

– All that time, I kept in touch with people from Ukraine, including one person – I will tell you about him a little. Vladimir Storchak was Lieutenant Colonel of the SBU back then. In 2014, I travelled to Ukraine, and we met. At his place, I met Dmitry, whom I had not known before. He introduced himself to me as an active intelligence agent, and then offered me work in transportation services in Russia, Andrey recalls.

It didn’t take him long to find out what kind of transportation services he was hired for. Andrey was to carry synthetic drugs, from 5 to 200 kilogrammes, from one city to another and make stashes. However, Andrey's career as a drug courier ended abruptly and predictably. He got caught in Kurgan in 2015 during one of his journeys, and spent the next seven years in a high-security prison. He got out on parole about eight months ago. He returned to his family, found a high-paying job and for the most part avoids thinking about his past life.

When asked why he did not refuse to participate in the illegal activity, Andrey quotes, almost verbatim, the words of his supervisor, Dmitry from the SBU:

– Don’t forget that your parents live in Ukraine. You will be doing this from now on, and you will always keep in mind that they are here, and you are there. And their lives will depend on how well you do what you’re told.

– Naturally, I didn't like that conversation at all. But given what I was told, I really had no options left, Andrey recalls.

Other Ukrainians we spoke to also recall that, if they tried to get out of the drug business, their supervisors either reminded them they would have to return their travel allowances or directly threatened them, for example, by sending the person a photo of the house where his family lived.

Death labs

The SBU curators not only set up channels for sending droppers to Russia but also the manufacturing of drugs.

– The KhimProm drug ring, which operated in 14 regions of Russia [it was busted in 2017; 47 of the 67 detainees were the citizens of Ukraine – Ed.] and manufactured between 150 and 500 kilogrammes of substances a week. Over the past few years, the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry of Russia have clamped down on over 500 labs. You can imagine the amount of drugs they produced and how many people they poisoned, said Alexander, a Russian security services officer.

The drug laboratories, which were set up with Ukrainian support, usually produced two relatively new kinds of synthetic drugs: mephedrone, also known as 4-methylmethcathinone; slang names include meph and bath salts) and alpha-PVP (one of its street names is speedway).

– The influence of these euphoretics on the human body, especially the tender organism of teenagers, has not been thoroughly studied as yet. But it has been established that the long-term effects of the use of these drugs include serious and even pathological changes in mental health, Alexander noted.

The Interior Ministry’s Centre for Information and Analysis has reported an annual increase in the trafficking of synthetic drugs in our country, from 5 percent of the market in 2014 to 60 percent in 2021.

Security services officers told RIA Novosti that Ukrainians set up laboratories in border regions to smuggle drugs into Russia or organise their manufacturing and sale in Russia. In 2019, 62 kg of drugs, including 7 kg synthetic drugs, were confiscated in the Belgorod Region. The figure increased nearly nine-fold, to 534 kg, in 2020, out of which more than a half (343 kg) were synthetic drugs. The figure doubled in 2021, when security services confiscated 1,066 kg, and the share of synthetic drugs rose to more than 75 percent, or 867 kg. Alexander explained that a laboratory operating at full capacity can produce up to 30 kg of drugs a day, or 300,000 doses, and this with minimal spending on rent, equipment and chemical agents.

One of such “chemists,” as illicit drug producers are called, was Alexander from the Kirovograd Region. Several years ago, he set up an illegal drug laboratory in the Moscow Region, and now he is waiting for a verdict in the Vodnik detention ward in Moscow. He cannot be described as a casualty because he had been tried for illicit drug production in Ukraine earlier. He is not very forthcoming when asked who offered him to return to business and to earn a nice roll of money in Russia. He said that he remembered very little, that the man’s name was Roman, and that he was a graduate of the SBU National Academy.

Like the other Ukrainians, Alexander was invited for an interview before his dispatch to Russia, but a meeting with his curators in a cafe was not enough because he was offered a far from ordinary role in this hybrid war. The would-be “chemist” was sent to a hostel in central Kiev for a lie detector test. Alexander said he saw several dozen people waiting for departure to Russia at that impromptu recruitment centre.

– I took a lie detector test. They asked if I planned to steal their money or use drugs, if I had any connections at security services, and if I wanted to make a career in this business, Alexander said.

In Russia, he quickly bought everything necessary to set up a lab and received manufacturing instructions from his curator via a messenger.

– We produced up to 5 kg a day. The retail price was some 2,000 roubles per gramme, which is 2 million roubles per kilogramme. In other words, we earned 10 million roubles a day. The returns were unbelievable because chemical agents are extremely cheap. And we got paid peanuts, Alexander recalled.

The “product” was stashed in forests, from where a wholesale courier moved it to another hiding place on instructions from the curator. Only after that were drugs distributed among “retailers,” who divided their lots into small doses and placed them in dead drops around the city. Under that scheme, producers and couriers never met, but those couriers who did especially well could be promoted to jobs at the lab. “You could move up a career ladder, so to say,” grinned Alexander.

– How are drug shops organised on Darknet? They have owners, curators, droppers and producers. In principle, all of them get paid very little; the bulk of the money is sent to someone higher up, Alexander explained.

Curators gave special attention to the clandestine security of their subordinates. Money for the production of drugs was sent to QIWI and Bitcoin wallets or bank cards of shills. If questioned by the police, each drug dealer had an explanation why he or she came to Russia or a bundle of money to “settle” the problem unofficially.

Weaponizing drugs

Where did the proceeds from drug trafficking go? Certainly not to ordinary Ukrainians who came to Russia, following orders from their curators. They acted as hired hands, making between 20,000 and 40,000 roubles per month in 2015, by selling from one to 10 kilogrammes of drugs, i.e. from 10,000 to 100,000 single-use doses, every month with the price tag ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 roubles per gramme. The super profits went to the Ukrainian ‘generals’ who de facto owned the online storefronts, and their patrons from the Ukrainian Security Service. They received this money through the same QIWI and Bitcoin wallets, just like the droppers.

– They relied on Ukraine’s banking system for cashing in on the proceeds from drug trafficking. In this system, PrivatBank played the lead role. The Ukrainian Security Service turned a blind eye to the recruitment of drug dealers in Kiev, or even did it themselves. In return, it received part of the revenue and used it to provide funding to radical right structures like the Right Sector (banned in Russia) and Azov, a RIA Novosti source in the law enforcement community said.

However, the curators had more on their agenda than just earning super profits. During our conversations with the droppers, they openly recognised that their goal was to ensure that young people in Russia ‘splutter in drugs.’ While some may argue that the Ukrainian secret services have nothing to do with the booming use of synthetic drugs in Russia, any correlation is coincidental and more akin to conspiracy theories, the world knowns cases when governments flooded other countries with drugs as part of their political agenda. For example, China faced the Opium Wars in the 19th century. The aim of the conflict was not to conquer new territories, but to control markets and overcome trade imbalances. Britain wanted to sell its goods in China, but the Qing dynasty sought to shield the Empire from foreign influences. It is then that it dawned on the British government that the best option would be to supply opium from India to China to generate bigger financial flows for its colony, while also forcing the Chinese rulers to be more cooperative.

Opium was smuggled into China for several decades, and in 1839 the Emperor closed the country’s market to all traders and smugglers from Great Britain and India. This led to an armed conflict between China and Britain, in which the Qing dynasty was defeated. Under the peace treaty, China had to pay a hefty contribution to the British Crown, cede the Hong Kong Island and open Chinese ports to British trade. At the same time, the Empire faced riots and degradation, while its population was dying out. Time will show whether Russia can win the drug war unleashed against us.

Buying, storing, producing, transporting, and promoting narcotic drugs is a criminal offence. Involvement in the trafficking of narcotics, psychotropic agents or similar substances is punishable by up to life imprisonment. The protagonists of this feature story have already been punished and repent their deeds. If you have information about any crimes described in this article, contact the police. It may be that your phone call will prevent a crime.





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Mon, Dec 2, 2019

BRAZIL / 14 JUN 2022 BY PETER APPLEBY Snip:
Police in São Paulo have made a rare yet large-scale seizure of a chemical intended for industrial applications, but which is now being used as a novel cutting agent in the final stages of cocaine and crack production.

On June 10, São Paulo police discovered 366 kilos of a chemical, known as Irganox 1076, inside a truck they had been monitoring, G1 reported. The vehicle was stopped at a highway tollbooth on suspicion of carrying cocaine but the product was later identified as this plastic antioxidant, commonly used in the construction, automotive and aerospace industries.

The seizure came two days after DENARC busted a cocaine and crack refining facility in Jardim Mirna, in the south of São Paulo, at which over 10 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of Irganox 1076 and equipment used to refine drugs were found. The truck was first noticed at this facility.

SEE ALSO: São Paulo's 'Crackland' Drug Market Finds New Real Estate

Authorities believe the chemical was intended to be used to “cut” cocaine and crack to increase the volume of the drugs and help swell the profits of drug traffickers. State police have made no other notable seizures of Irganox 1076, according to DENARC official, Fernando Santiago.

“It's a very new thing, almost unprecedented,” Santiago was quoted as saying by newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Release Date Wed, 06/15/2022 - 12:00
 

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The Living Force
FOTCM Member
La Caleta, Spain

A Customs helicopter, forced to scare people away so they don't take drugs from a ship in Sanlúcar
Bathers on the beach at Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Cadiz tried to take on some of the cargo of a drug boat that had run aground to escape a customs helicopter chasing it by making the plane fly very low to try and scare away the many people who had gathered in the area. In some of the videos that are circulating on the Internet, you can actually see some of the bales being stolen.

Formally, the incident was explained by the fact that the Customs Union demanded the support of the Civil Guard due to the accumulation of people during an anti-drug reception on the beach in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz). This was told to Europa Press by sources from the Civil Guard, who indicated that the customs requested support from both Benemérita and the national police when the service was overwhelmed by the number of people gathered at the time of the device, an event “very similar to the one that has lived for many years back”.

For their part, the national police said the operation was still ongoing, with Sanlúcar city council sources confirming that there had been “some noise” on the beach, but no local police intervention was required.


They swarm and try to steal the cargo.


Both in #CampoDeGibraltar and in the rest of the province of #Cádiz there is a SERIOUS PROBLEM with drug trafficking and it is useless to try to hide it.


Our recognition to the STAFF who work there.#EquiparacionYa pic.twitter.com/LpGSPtSsZh

— UPOL (@JupolNacional) July 30, 2022

In regards to the incident, numerous videos posted on social media contain alleged images of a Customs helicopter piloting near the shore in an attempt to evacuate a crowd of people from a boat stranded on a beach in this city in Cadiz. The videos were circulated among others by Jupol, the majority union of the National Police, who took advantage of their messages to emphasize that both in Campo de Gibraltar and in the rest of the province of Cadiz “there is a serious problem with drug smuggling and it is useless to hide it.” “.
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14 JUL 2022 BY VICTORIA DITTMAR AND SARA GARCIA
An announcement by the Mexican government about the largest seizure of illegal fentanyl in the country's history appeared to ignore the complex realities of how this synthetic opioid is produced.

On July 13, Mexico's Attorney General's Office stated that ten people in the northern state of Sinaloa had been charged with illegal possession of fentanyl and methamphetamine with intent to sell. These charges came on the heels of the largest seizure of illicit fentanyl ever made in Mexico.

Days earlier, on July 7, the Defense Ministry announced it had seized over half a ton of fentanyl in powder form from a property in Culiacán, the state capital of Sinaloa. In recent years, most of the clandestine fentanyl labs destroyed by Mexican authorities have been located in Sinaloa.

“The most relevant fact is that, in this operation, 542.7 kilograms of fentanyl were seized. This is the largest decommissioning...in the history of this lethal drug," stated Ricardo Mejía, Mexico's Vice Minister for Public Security.

The operation in Culiacán appears to have been sizable. Alongside the fentanyl, 555 kilograms of methamphetamine, 31 kilograms of cocaine, 19 kilograms of opium gum, and almost 7 kilograms of heroin were seized. Furthermore, over 70,000 kilograms of chemical precursors and almost 68,000 liters of chemical substances used to make synthetic drugs were also found.

The previous largest seizure of fentanyl in Mexico also took place in Culiacán, when 118 kilograms of the drug were found in November 2021.

InSight Crime Analysis

Data on fentanyl seizures often mask a more complex reality, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Authorities, consumers, distributors, and even illegal producers are often unaware of the actual amount of pure fentanyl present in the synthetic substances being sold or seized.

Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid and as little as 2 milligrams can already be lethal for most users. This means that just 1 kilogram of pure fentanyl could produce around half a million lethal doses.

Therefore, the half-ton seized by authorities in Sinaloa is unlikely to be pure fentanyl since this would represent a truly colossal amount of doses.

Fentanyl illegally produced in Mexico is commonly mixed with other substances to obtain higher yields in production. Sugars such as lactose, mannitol, and inositol are some of the substances most commonly used to increase fentanyl volumes, according to information from the US Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program (FSPP).

And discoveries within clandestine opioid processing laboratories have also found substances such as metamizole and acetaminophen, both of which are used to increase the volume of the final fentanyl product. Fentanyl is also often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

During field investigations, InSight Crime has found that government agencies in Mexico have the ability to detect whether a substance has fentanyl, but are not always able to determine how much is present. This largely depends on the tools a specific laboratory has access to. This inconsistency has led to a systemic failure in data collection, and implies that the government does not know the real dimension of the phenomenon.

SEE ALSO: Impact of Illicit Fentanyl Felt on Both Sides of US-Mexico Border

The problem is reflected in the official data provided by security forces. For example, the Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de la República - FGR), the National Guard, the Defense Ministry (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional - SEDENA), and the Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina - SEMAR) all use different measures to quantify fentanyl seizures. This makes it essentially impossible to know how much fentanyl has been seized by the government.

According to data obtained by InSight Crime, SEDENA records fentanyl seizures as powder or in units (pills or vials). Meanwhile, the National Guard records the number of pills, bags, wrappers, and packages as well as the weight of the fentanyl in solid and liquid form. Finally, the FGR and SEMAR record the weight of solid or liquid fentanyl, as well as the number of pills.

As mentioned earlier, these units of measurement do not reveal how much pure fentanyl is present in the drugs.

Besides authorities, even drug cooks are often not aware of how much fentanyl is in their product, according to several subject matter experts consulted by InSight Crime in Mexico City.

"Even if [cooks] manage to make the product, they don't necessarily have the chemical knowledge to know the right measurements or to achieve purity. So several contaminants remain,” Silvia Cruz, a PhD in pharmacobiology and researcher at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies at Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute (Instituto Politécnico Nacional), told InSight Crime.

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