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Mexico’s narco torpedoes

Cartels use old military weapons to confound the navy
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Narco technology: from submarines to torpedoes (AFP Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)
On the streets of American cities, a drug torpedo can refer to a cocktail of marijuana and crack cocaine. But on the seas off Mexico and Central America, it can now mean a real torpedo, which is used to smuggle cocaine, cystal meth or bundles of dollar bills passed the U.S. or Mexican navy.
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DEA defends money laundering stings

Agents have been using financial entrapment since 1984
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Drug agents follow the money (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)
The Justice Department defended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s controversial money laundering stings, pointing out they have been used since 1984 to successfully bring down dozens of major gangsters. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich described the DEA’s operations in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa of California, details of which were published Friday by the Houston Chronicle. Weich said that Congress gave authority for the DEA to set up bank accounts to entrap the money of narcotics traffickers and transfer money to the gangsters in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, who beefed up the war on drugs.
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DEA defends money laundering stings

Agents have been using financial entrapment since 1984
The Justice Department defended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s controversial money laundering stings, pointing out they have been used since 1984 to successfully bring down dozens of major gangsters. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich described the DEA’s operations in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa of California, details of which were published Friday by the Houston Chronicle. Weich said that Congress gave authority for the DEA to set up bank accounts to entrap the money of narcotics traffickers and transfer money to the gangsters in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, who beefed up the war on drugs.
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Mexican soldiers tortured American

El Paso man freed after two year ordeal
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Mexican soldiers fighting the war on drugs (Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)
Accusations of police or soldiers in Mexico torturing and wrongfully imprisoning suspects are so common that they rarely make news. But it does make a splash when the alleged victim of the abuse is American. Shohn Huckabee, a 24-year old from El Paso, was released from prison after almost two years when the U.S. Justice Department determined that he had been tortured in Mexican custody.
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Mexican marines seize 900 guns

Weapons found on container from Turkish ship
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Illegal guns are behind most of the violent deaths in Mexico (Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images)
Seizures of large piles of guns have become worryingly common in Mexico. But the Sunday bust in Michoacan state still made a news splash for the sheer size of the arsenal. Mexican marines broke open a ship container and uncovered a whopping total of 900 firearms.
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No reduction in Mexico kidnappings

Government crackdown isn’t stopping abductions
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A former presidential candidate became a high profile kidnap victim (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico’s security forces have been unable to reduce the number of kidnappings for ransom across the country despite many arrests and deaths of gangsters, according to new government figures.

Between October 2010 and September 2011, there were 1,016 kidnappings for ransom, a report by the National Public Security System shows.

That figure is almost unchanged compared to the previous year when there were 1,017 such abductions reported.

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Mexico has 7 million lost youth

Survey exposes stunning number of “neither nors”
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Lost youth become drug cartel recruits (DAVID MONROY/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico has a stunning 7.8 million young people who neither work nor study, according to a new government study. The so called “ni nis” or “neither nors” are believed to be a major cause of instability in Mexico, with the unemployed youth providing an army of potential recruits for drug cartels.
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Brazil's favelas fight is about to get ugly

Picking a fight with the drug cartels hasn't worked so well, for anyone. Just saying.
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This pool belonged to a drug lord named Peixe, or Fish, in the Rocinha slum. (LUIZA CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images)

The whomp-'em raid in the Rio favela of Rocinha on Sunday morning was pretty intense, even by police-action standards. 

Helicopter gunships, tanks and 3,000 troops stormed into the slum. The goal was to run out the drug traffickers who rule the place.

When they got there, though, nobody was home. 

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Legalization debate: first pot, now coke?

Colombia's president suggested it's an option
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Why can't you buy this at your local pharmacy? (Guillermo Legaria/AFP/Getty Images)

Legalization used to be the rallying cry of stoners alone. Not anymore.

In Latin America, leaders seem to be reaching a new consensus about the drug war: it has failed, and it's time for a new solution. 

Most say that foreign demand for cocaine and marijuana is the underlying problem. 

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Rio security forces take back major slum

RIO DE JANEIRO — More than 3,000 heavily-armed troops stormed Brazil’s largest slum on Sunday, expelling drug traffickers from the sprawling Rocinha shantytown that that for decades has been controlled by gang members.  
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