Police Are Tracking Phone & Web Habits to Snare Drug Crime

When it comes to indiscriminately sweeping up metadata from internet and cellphone users, Australia is the worldwide leader. Police down under have also either been deliberately misleading with why they want all your information—or simply can’t be trusted not to ramp up the War on Drugs when given the opportunity.

Since massive data retention in the name of law and order became de rigueur in 2015—sold to the public as a vital tool to protect national security and fight terrorism—Australian police have vacuumed up more metadata per capita than counterparts in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

All data, like IP addresses visited and location information for phones, must be retained for at least two years—and is accessible without a warrant. But more data is available with a judge’s permission, and so Australian magistrates have duly issued more warrants authorizing data collection than their allies in the war on terror.

Read more at High Times

Private Sector Banks Putting the Squeeze on Uruguay’s Legal Marijuana Industry

On July 19, Uruguay started selling legal weed in pharmacies—making it the world’s first state-run marijuana marketplace with the government involved in the entire chain of movement from cultivation to purchase.

The problem however is that, at $1.30 per gram, the country has already run out of weed and it’s program has only been operating for less than a month.

From the very first day when sales started, there were shortages; some pharmacies were cleaned out before closing time.

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Cannabis Kingpin, Said to Be El Chapo’s Godson, Captured at Calexico

A 29-year-old man believed to be the godson of Mexican narco lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was indicted on drug  charges in a San Diego federal court on Monday.

Damaso López Serrano AKA “Mini Lic” was charged with smuggling unspecified quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. He’d turned himself in to U.S. border agents several days earlier, and is said to be the highest-ranking Mexican kingpin ever to surrender in the territory of the United States.

Authorities say they believe Mini Lic turned himself in under pressure of a bloody power struggle over control of the Sinaloa Cartel—and possibly to stay out of the clutches of Mexican authorities, who could exact revenge on him as a favor to the notoriously well-connected Chapo. Mexican federal police were apparently hot on his trail in the border town of Mexicali, when he showed up in Calexico on the California side and presented himself to the U.S. Border Patrol on July 26. He was promptly transferred to DEA custody.

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Here’s the Deal with Pot in North Korea

Photo by Vortex Farmacy.

In 1962, American soldier Allen Abshier, stationed in South Korea, defected to the ironically-named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—AKA (the completely non-democratic) North Korea—in order to avoid court-martial charges, after having been caught smoking marijuana five or six times. Presumably, he was allowed to smoke freely in the country where he sought asylum.

It is surprising that a regime as diabolically punishing as the one that arrested and detained college student Otto Warmbier, for allegedly stealing a poster from his hotel room while on vacation, would be so open about cannabis. (Tragically, after 17 months in prison, Otto Warmbier succumbed to injuries sustained in captivity and died a few days after his release.)

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Rights Violations Seen in Federal Mara Crackdown

Civil rights organizations in New York are trying to determine if police and school officials on Long Island helped federal authorities detain students illegally in the country on the basis of dubious claims of ties to Central American gangs.

The controversy comes days after President Trump‘s inflammatory speech before law enforcement officers in Long Island’s Suffolk County on July 28. There was a major outcry over Trump’s urging of police to be “rough” with suspects in the speech. This outrage nearly eclipsed media coverage of his pledge in the speech to “destroy” the MS-13 gang network, calling its members “animals.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union and LatinoJustice have filed a joint request under New York’s Freedom of Information Law with the Suffolk County Police Department and a local district, regarding suspensions of immigrant students for supposed gang affiliations. At least two students at Bellport High School are being held in federal immigration detention facilities after being suspended from school.

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Burma’s Rohingya Refugees Tarred with Narco-Stigma

The Rohingya Muslim people of Burma are facing what some have called genocide in their homeland, long denied citizenship rights and now under attack by both the security forces and Buddhist-chauvinist militias, who have carried out massacres and burned down their villages.

Some 500,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh—where they are not being welcomed. A

lready confined to squalid refugee camps near the Burmese border, they now face forcible relocation to an uninhabited offshore island. Shunted from one region to another, they face the predictable propaganda—Burmese authorities have stigmatized them as Muslim terrorists, and now Bangladesh authorities increasingly stigmatize them as drug-traffickers.

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Philippines: Youth Protest Drug War ‘Dictatorship’

Some 7,000 protesters marched on the Philippines’ House of Representatives in the Batasan district of Manila on Monday as ultra-hardline President Rodrigo Duterte gave his second State of the Nation Address—in which he pledged to keep pursuing his bloody drug war.

“The fight will not stop,” said Duterte. “There is a jungle out there. There are beasts and vultures preying on the helpless. We will not be disheartened, we will not be cowed, we will not be overwhelmed.” He offered drug dealers and users a choice of “jail or hell.”

Clearly addressing the protesters, he said: “Your efforts will be better spent if you use it to educate people instead of condemning people.”

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Where to Find Your Weed-Smoking Kindred Spirits in Europe This Summer

It’s time for our annual list of best places to blaze this summer for you lucky European travelers.

As was the case last year, according to the 2017 Annual Drug Report, pot is still the most commonly-used illicit substance in Europe. Good job not getting bumped out of first place by some nasty dangerous drug!

Here is some advice on where in Europe to find the best bud and how to experience the least amount of hassle when lighting up:

Read more at High Times

Growing Gunplay in Hashish Gateway Tajikistan

Although rarely in the news, the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan is a critical corridor for hashish and opiates bound from southern neighbor Afghanistan to Europe and world markets.

Violence associated with the cross-border trade is predictably endemic and appears to be escalating. Border guards have repeatedly clashed with traffickers on the frontier in recent weeks, leaving several dead.

An account on EurasiaNet noted some recent bloody incidents.

Read more at High Times

Legal Marijuana Sales Begin in Uruguay Under Landmark 2013 Law

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Marijuana is going on sale at 16 pharmacies in Uruguay, the final step in applying a 2013 law that made the South American nation the first to legalize a pot market covering the entire chain from plants to purchase.

Authorities say nearly 5,000 people have registered as consumers allowing them to buy marijuana when sales start Wednesday. About two-thirds live in the capital, Montevideo.

The price is set at the equivalent of $1.30 per gram. Ninety cents of that goes to the two businesses chosen to cultivate the marijuana. The rest is split between pharmacies and the government, which will use its share to fund prevention programs.

Read more at High Times