Connect with us

World

Phuket Gazette World News: Caribbean Cocaine Cowboys on the rise; US slashes Egypt aid; Nigeria raids suicide vest factory; Landslide win in Azerbaijan election

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published 

 on 

Phuket Gazette World News: Caribbean Cocaine Cowboys on the rise; US slashes Egypt aid; Nigeria raids suicide vest factory; Landslide win in Azerbaijan election | The Thaiger
  • follow us in feedly

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Caribbean drug trade rises under new generation of ‘Cocaine Cowboys’
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Caribbean is becoming a hot spot again for drug smuggling into the United States as a new generation of “Cocaine Cowboys” plows the seas in fast boats in search of easy entry points for illicit shipments into the world’s largest consumer market.

About 14 percent of U.S.-bound cocaine shipments – roughly 42 tons – was trafficked through the Caribbean in the first six months of this year, and Puerto Rico and the neighbouring Dominican Republic are emerging as hubs of the burgeoning trade, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

That was double the share of U.S.-bound cocaine that was shipped through the region during the first half of 2012, Vito Guarino, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Caribbean division, told Reuters.

He said the increase – which came amid a 30 percent overall drop in the amount of cocaine smuggled into the United States over the same time period – was at least partly due to increased drug interdiction efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Colombian-led traffickers are also simply taking advantage of a region where they made deep inroads in the 1980s, before drug lords in Mexico began to dominate the trade by the late 1990s.

In the last year, U.S. law enforcement agencies have turned up the pressure on the Caribbean traffickers, with more Coast Guard patrols, as well as well as human and electronic intelligence, to detect illicit planes and boats.

Guarino said the DEA’s drug flow estimates were based on seizures and arrests – which offer only a partial indicator. But while experts have been predicting an uptick in Caribbean trafficking for years now, Guarino said the evidence of an escalation was now unmistakable.

Most cocaine shipments into the region are smuggled aboard drug-laden speed boats, with two or more big engines, that roar across from the northern tip of South America in one or two days, Guarino said, often under cover of darkness. Bales of cocaine are off-loaded to fishing boats or transferred to vehicles on deserted beaches.

“I was here when they were doing it predominantly by air. Now it’s predominantly by go-fast (boats),” Guarino said.

In August, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft spotted a 30-foot long, go-fast boat near Puerto Rico loaded with 1,500 lbs (680 kg) of cocaine in waterproof bales. The boat, its three-man crew, and its cargo were seized by a British navy frigate, HMS Lancaster, patrolling in the area.

The lure of Puerto Rico is its status as a U.S. territory. Once drugs are smuggled onto the island they can head right to the U.S. mainland without going through customs.

Based in Puerto Rico, Guarino, a former Newark cop, began his career with the DEA in Miami in 1985. That was during the heyday of the Colombian cartels and so-called “Cocaine Cowboys,” when Miami’s role as an epicentre for the cocaine trade turned it into one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.

The Dominican Republic, just across the treacherous Mona Passage strait separating it from Puerto Rico, serves as the transfer point for most of the South American cocaine shipped from Puerto Rico into the United States, Guarino said. The Dominican Republic is also a major transit area for drugs heading to Europe.

Dominican drug lab

About 500 lbs (225 kg) of coca paste, the raw ingredient for refined cocaine, was recently seized from a laboratory on a ranch on the outskirts of the Dominican capital.

Dominican authorities said it was the first full-scale cocaine processing operation ever uncovered in the Caribbean. Cocaine lab refining is usually done in South America, before the final product is shipped in bulk.

The similarities between Miami in the 1980s and Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic today are striking, Guarino added.

“The Cocaine Cowboys, the Uzis, the shootouts that we used to have … You’re seeing the same violence,” Guarino said.

In 2011, Puerto Rico set a new record with 1,117 killings. The homicide rate was more than six times the rate on the U.S. mainland and the government said almost half the murders were drug related. The crime rate has since fallen, but still remains three times higher than on the mainland.

Highlighting Puerto Rico’s role as a magnet for the drug trade, federal and local law enforcement authorities on the island announced the take-down earlier this month of one of the most powerful drug gangs to operate in the Caribbean over the last 20 years.

One of those arrested in the bust was Edgar Collazo Rivera, a prominent Puerto Rico businessman who operated shipping and garbage companies and had contracts with municipal governments. His $8 million, 61-foot (18.5-meter) yacht “Olga” was allegedly used to transport cash to the Dominican Republic to buy drugs, according to authorities.

U.S. curbs military, economic aid for Egypt
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The United States said on Wednesday it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid from Egypt’s military-backed government pending progress on democracy and human rights.

The decision, described by U.S. officials, demonstrates U.S. unhappiness with Egypt’s path since its army on July 3 ousted Mohamed Mursi, who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood to become Egypt’s first democratically elected leader last year.

But the State Department said it would not cut off all aid and would continue military support for counterterrorism, counter-proliferation and security in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders U.S. ally Israel.

It also said it would continue to provide funding that benefits the Egyptian people in such areas as education, health and the development of the private sector.

The split decision illustrates the U.S. dilemma in Egypt: a desire to promote democracy and human rights along with a need to cooperate with a nation of strategic importance because of its control of the Suez Canal, its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and its status as the most populous nation in the Arab world.

“We will … continue to hold the delivery of certain large-scale military systems and cash assistance to the government pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The military-backed authorities have cracked down hard on the Brotherhood since ousting Mursi. On August 14, security forces smashed two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo, with hundreds of deaths, and then declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew. Many of the Brotherhood’s leaders have been arrested since.

In the latest violence, protesters clashed with security forces on Sunday, with state media reporting 57 people dead.

Unclear effect

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, said it was doubtful Washington would gain any leverage over Cairo by withholding the aid.

“It may make some Americans feel better about the U.S. role in the world, but it’s hard to imagine how it changes how the Egyptian government behaves,” he said.

Some lawmaker

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.



Find more SE Asian News courtesy of The Thaiger.

Broke? Find employment in Southeast Asia with JobCute Thailand. Rich? Invest in real estate across Asia with FazWaz Property Group. Even book medical procedures worldwide with MyMediTravel, all powered by DB Ventures.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million

The Thaiger

Published

on

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ipsos

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

New Covid-19 cases are again surging in many countries. Globally, the number of infected people exceeded 40 million as of last night with new infections starting to accelerate again. Today the total number of confirmed cases around the world is 40,323,461. The number of total deaths remains at 1,118,826 and recovered patients at 30,135,040 (as of 4pm Thai time).

Covid19 - US infections

Notably, the death rate from Covid-19 is not rising as treatment for complicated cases continues to rapidly improve. The US, India, Russia, Brazil, the rest of South America, and parts of Europe and the UK, are the current ‘hot spots’ (below).

Regionally, the surge of cases in Myanmar is causing headaches for Thai border officials in the north west of the country. The Governor of Tak decided to close the border checkpoints this morning. But the 2,000 kilometre long land border between Thailand and Myanmar has many unofficial “Natural” crossing points.

In the US, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says following public health measures is the way out of the crisis that has hobbled the economy, claimed thousands of lives and sickened millions.

“The predicted fall surge is here, and rising cases across the US appear to bear that out.”

The US is averaging more than 55,000 new cases a day, and 10 states reported their highest single-day cases counts last Friday. As of this morning, US time, there were more than 8.5 million cases and 219,674 coronavirus deaths, according to Worldometers.info

“The Covid-19 crisis would have to be ‘really, really bad’ to implement a national lockdown. Despite the climbing totals, a nationwide lockdown is not the way forward unless the pandemic gets “really, really bad.”

Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University says the worst fears of rising cases, leading into winter, are being realised.

“We were really hoping to crater the cases in preparation for a bad winter. We’ve done basically the opposite.”

After hitting an all-time high in July, cases did drop significantly, but the US never reached a level where the public health system could truly get a handle on the outbreak or describe it as ‘contained’.

Now infections are on the rise again, driven by ballooning outbreaks across the country’s interior, especially in the Midwest, the Great Plains and the West.

Contributing to the rise is the return of students to schools and campuses across the country, puzzling resistance to social distancing and mask wearing recommendations, and more people spending time in restaurants and other indoor settings as the weather starts to cool down.

SOURCE: worldometers.info | nor.org

Covid19 - US infections

TABLE: worldometers.com

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns

Maya Taylor

Published

on

2 Covid vaccine trials halted in phase 3 over safety concerns | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Medical Xpress

After Johnson & Johnson paused phase 3 of its Covid vaccine trials due to safety concerns, a second pharmaceutical company has followed suit. Eli Lilly has halted phase 3 trials of a lab-produced antibody treatment, 24 hours after the Johnson & Johnson decision. The Bangkok Post reports that an unspecified incident led Eli Lilly to call a temporary halt to the trials. The day before, Johnson & Johnson paused its phase 3 trials after a participant fell ill. A spokesperson for J&J says the hiatus is temporary.

The 2 delays follow a similar incident with phase 3 trials of a vaccine being jointly worked on by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, which was briefly delayed last month due to an unexplained illness in one participant. Trials of that vaccine have now resumed globally, with the exception of the US, for reasons unknown. Such snags are par for the course in the final phase testing of vaccine development, particularly as the number of participants is increased significantly to see if very rare side-effects are presented.

A spokesperson for Eli Lilly says the company backs the Data Safety and Monitoring Board in calling a temporary halt to phase 3 trials.

“Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.”

Eli Lilly’s trial began in August, aimed at recruiting 10,000 participants, across 50 sites, including the US, Denmark and Singapore, using a lab-produced antibody treatment, similar to that developed by Regeneron and used to treat US President Donald Trump recently. Eli Lilly has not given any further information about the safety concern which has paused phase 3.

Meanwhile, a J&J spokesman says such breaks are to be expected in large-scale trials and that reported illnesses or side-effects may be unrelated to the vaccine.

“It’s not at all unusual for unexpected illnesses in large studies over their duration. In some cases, serious adverse events may have something or nothing to do with the drug or vaccine being investigated.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading

Crime

Thai police to verify “Boss” whereabouts with UAE embassy

Maya Taylor

Published

on

Thai police to verify “Boss” whereabouts with UAE embassy | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Following recent reports that the elusive Red Bull heir, Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, is living in Dubai, Thai police say they’re writing to the UAE embassy to verify the claims (the embassy is in Witthayu road… we can send you the address if you need so you can ‘drop in’ and have a chat).

Boss is wanted in relation to a 2012 hit-and-run incident that claimed the life of Wichian Klanprasert, a 47 year old Bangkok policeman. Wichian died after his bike was dragged 100 metres by a Ferrari which then fled the scene. The vehicle was allegedly being driven by Boss.

Incredibly, Boss managed to flee Thailand in 2017. Charges that were initially dropped against him in July this year have recently been re-instated following an independent inquiry. Recently, rumours began circulating that due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the wanted Red Bull heir is currently living in Dubai. Assistant National Police Chief Jaruwat Waisaya says Thai police are submitting a letter to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates to enquire as to his whereabouts.

“We want to confirm with the local authorities whether he is in the UAE or not. If he is, we will coordinate with them to extradite him to Thailand so he can face trial.”

A red Interpol notice has been issued for Boss, meaning if he enters a country that is a member of Interpol, officials should inform the Royal Thai Police. However, enforcement of the notice is at the discretion of individual countries. The United Arab Emirates is an Interpol member country.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.
Continue Reading
50% of Thailand’s population to get Covid-19 vaccine when available – Health Minister | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

50% of Thailand’s population to get Covid-19 vaccine when available – Health Minister

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht | The Thaiger
Protests11 hours ago

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht

Thai authorities push to ban, censor news outlets and social media | The Thaiger
Protests11 hours ago

Thai authorities push to ban, censor news outlets and social media

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger
Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

Dozens of protester arrests since emergency decree was imposed | The Thaiger
Protests12 hours ago

Dozens of protester arrests since emergency decree was imposed

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Covid19 – US infections “balloon”, world case total surpasses 40 million

New delivery application focuses on reducing Thailand’s food waste | The Thaiger
Environment13 hours ago

New delivery application focuses on reducing Thailand’s food waste

New Covid-19 restrictions imposed to tackle Europe’s second wave | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)14 hours ago

New Covid-19 restrictions imposed to tackle Europe’s second wave

Thailand to be Southeast Asia production base for Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

Thailand to be Southeast Asia production base for Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)15 hours ago

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

St Mark’s International School ‘breaks ground’ with their new Bangkok campus | The Thaiger
Events15 hours ago

St Mark’s International School ‘breaks ground’ with their new Bangkok campus

5 new Covid-19 cases in quarantine, some with cough symptoms | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

5 new Covid-19 cases in quarantine, some with cough symptoms

Lucky escape for chickens in Udon Thani as crocodile caught trying to enter coop | The Thaiger
North East16 hours ago

Lucky escape for chickens in Udon Thani as crocodile caught trying to enter coop

Governor halts movement of goods between Tak and Myanmar amid Covid fears | The Thaiger
Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Governor halts movement of goods between Tak and Myanmar amid Covid fears

Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists | The Thaiger
Transport17 hours ago

Koh Samui tourism operators want cheaper flights to lure tourists

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19 | The Thaiger
Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Protest update, Samui wants cheap flights, Isaan croc hunters | October 19

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16 | The Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protests, Special Tourist Visa, Prisoners slippery escape | October 16

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15 | The Thaiger
Thailand4 days ago

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency, Pattaya ‘online’, Veggie Festival plea | October 15

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14 | The Thaiger
Thailand6 days ago

Thailand News Today | BKK protest update, Chiang Mai ‘quiet’, Baby klong crocs | October 14

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13 | The Thaiger
Thailand7 days ago

Thailand News Today | No STV tourists, Boss in Dubai, border fears in Tak | October 13

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | Land bridge project, “Thai Bridge”, Chaing Mai black widow | October 12

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9 | The Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Tourist arrivals postponed, Will Boss return?, deadly centipede | October 8

Thailand News Today | Poll-Keep borders closed, quarantine exemption, heavy rain | October 7 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Poll-Keep borders closed, quarantine exemption, heavy rain | October 7

Thailand News Today | Business people exemptions, road checkpoints, Phuket delay | October 6 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Business people exemptions, road checkpoints, Phuket delay | October 6

Thailand News Today | Live from Thammasat, Sacked teacher sues parents, Pattaya eating contest | October 5, 2020 | The Thaiger
Thailand2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Live from Thammasat, Sacked teacher sues parents, Pattaya eating contest | October 5, 2020

Thailand News Today | Prison release?, Pattaya Makeover, 6 new Covid cases | October 2 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts2 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Prison release?, Pattaya Makeover, 6 new Covid cases | October 2

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1

Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty extended, first STV tourists, teacher sacked | September 29 | The Thaiger
Video & Podcasts3 weeks ago

Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty extended, first STV tourists, teacher sacked | September 29

Follow The Thaiger by email:

Trending