International Writers Magazine: Drugrunners
Galician Ganja Trail
got a real potpourri of world problems going on at the moment with
a whole sleuth of experts in all fields trying to solve them. Al
Gore is hell bent in saving the planet from extinction and is flying
around the globe with all kinds of plans to try to stop us consumers
from eating up the world resources whilst we exterminate with our
excretions the rest of the other living beings that unfortunately
have to cohabit and survive as they share the crumbs of whats
left over by our human extravaganza.
Image © Wendy McCormick
Meanwhile back at
the ranch, economic big shots, pop stars and a mixed bag of politicians
ranging from Bill Gates and Bono to our very own British Prime Minister,
Gordon Brown, are trying to resolve the world economic chaos at an international
forum in Davos, Switzerland that equally points towards a worldwide
apocalypses of total financial breakdown unless something is done about
it pretty soon and pronto!
Most have yet to come up with a consensus of opinion let alone an action
plan to save the world. Added to this summed up scenario of doom is
the never ending saga of humans beating each others brains out. Revolve
that world atlas you may have in your office or back yard, place a humble
finger on any spot that happens to stop in its path and youve
got strife and conflict. From Iraq to Kenya, from the Basque country
to Columbia somewhere, someone is killing somebody. What a panorama!
Yet there is one world problem that at the moment has relinquished centre
stage of the major headlines. Its the question of drugs; those
evil substances that are causing so much heartache to so many families
throughout the world as more and more of their young ones cross the
threshold of common sense and hand over their lives to the underworld.
The abusive consumption of heroin, cocaine and to a lesser extent, cannabis
and alcohol by a large sector of modern society is the real issue behind
most of todays chaotic situation.
Drugs have been around for centuries. Ever since Adam and Eve, man has
indulged in some sort of physical intake to transport his inner being
into a world of fantasy in search of unknown pleasures. The history
books are full of it. But in the XX century, particularly the era of
economic growth in America and Europe following WWII, a new type of
population emerged. One that once lived in relative poverty has been
transformed into a consumer society that in turn began to search for
new non warmongering kicks to replace the boredom of humdrum
peacetime. Before the war, only Hollywood stars and rich playboys indulged
in heroin shots or cocaine sniffs but as the dollar grew in the pockets
of more Americans so did the possibility to switch from alcohol, the
poor mans ecstasies to the high society stuff that sent one spinning
into outer space and beyond control. A whole new ball game of racketeering
was developed and a new breed of gangsters took over from the old
Chicago bootleggers of the twenties to become the drug lords of the
future. It did not take long for the evil to spread en masse throughout
the rest of the world.
When I was a kid I remember seeing a movie with Frank Sinatra and Kim
Novak called The Man with the Golden Arm; the story
of a card sharp hooked on heroin. I was living in Uruguay at the time,
one of the tiny backwaters of South America where most of the wayward
sector of the population indulged in grappa, a cheap alcoholic
brew or drank a local tea called mate that at most gave
you a severe case of heartburn. The sight of Frankie injecting something
into his arm and then proceeding to win a poker hand was beyond mine
and my fellow school mates comprehension. Years later other great
movies like The French Connection and The
Godfather in the seventies, or Pulp Fiction
and Traffic to name but a few of the screens greatest,
brought the problem out into the open. They are all examples of the
drug infested world that has now developed and that we live in and yet
are unable to control or eradicate.
As in most businesses youve got producers and consumers and to
bring them together you have the middlemen. Although the marketplace
is common ground and the consumers are generally the rich sector of
the world, each drug product is unique in its source and origin. The
transporters or couriers in drug parlance make up the rest
of the motley industry.
In brief, most of the world heroin is developed from opium harvested
by poppy growers in Afghanistan whilst cocaine is the final product
derived from coca leaves grown in Peru, Bolivia and Columbia.
Hashish is a by-product of cannabis and is grown all over the place.
However, the Caribbean islands are famous for producing and smoking
pot after Bob Marley boasted smoking ganja whilst
composing his famous reggae best selling singles. Although wars are
being fought to reduce production the 7th cavalry is hard at
it in Afghanistan - the stuff still gets through to the consumers. But
how is it being transported around the world? Phileas Fogg in Around
the world in 80 days couldnt match the ingenuity behind
the army of weird beings and their systems that resort to all sorts
of methods in order to get the muck into the nostrils, lungs and blood
stream of the future addicted victims.
Herewith are a few of many examples.
A single human carrier will swallow the stuff in pellets before boarding
a plane from Cairo to London hopefully bypassing a dumb customs officer
at Heathrow and finally depositing the product in a private home lavatory
bowl. Or a female courier will stuff similar elements of
the drug up her vagina with the same intent. Less sordid transporters
may try to pack several kilograms into a false bottom in their suitcase
or fill a few tins of olive oil or other type container with a similar
amount of drug. These are fairly well known methods of the small time
operator. Some get through and others are caught. But the big boys are
much smarter and riskier. Apart from airlines, shipping companies can
be vulnerable to the drug trade. Hundreds of thousands of container-carrying
vessels around the world have been known to hide tons into one or several
containers with false interiors. These traffickers are part of a worldwide
network of criminals that have usually paid off a few corrupt customs
officials thus allowing hundreds of thousands of tons to enter the mainland
without detection. Smaller vessels are known to anchor offshore, hand
over the cargo to a fast speed boat that can outrun the coastguard and
will then cast off at full speed to a secluded beach where a host of
smugglers will be ready to receive the stuff and hit the trail by truck
at the crack of dawn. The wrongdoers in Daphne du Mauriers novel
Jamaica Inn are simpletons compared to the drug running
I live in Galicia, Spain, one of the main drug entry points into Europe.
Similar to Daphnes characterisation, the locals are fully aware
of the smuggling that goes on and although the authorities are extremely
efficient at intercepting a great deal of illicit cargo, no one knows
for sure what percentage is actually caught and how much gets through
undetected. Tons of cocaine and hashish are recovered on a monthly basis.
During an extremely severe storm some weeks ago hundreds of kilos were
washed up on the beach. A suspected shipwrecked yacht was assumed as
the cause of the dumped cargo. No crew members were reported missing
nor did they turn up alive and kicking. They just disappeared. However,
the methods used go beyond anyones imagination. The most notorious
plot that was uncovered happened just before Christmas in 2006.
Captain Juan Gomez, a Spanish Civil Guard in charge of one of the coastguard
launches noticed a small craft adrift off the Cies Islands at the entrance
to the Vigo bay. When they tied up alongside they realised that it was
a small submarine. After towing it into one of the city shipyards for
inspection they found that it was a home built model based on a design
available on the Internet. This immediately aroused suspicion as similar
vessels had been used by Colombian drug runners off the Florida coast
since 2002. Weeks of investigation went by until a tip off led them
to a large shed at the edge of a secluded part of the bay. What they
found was a real Pa and Ma Kettle type workshop that under normal circumstances
wouldnt have aroused any suspicion of illicit activity. The local
culprits, a father and son and six other helpers were finally arrested
and brought before the judge. They were part of the Columbian mafia
all right! Their ordeal had foundered during the secret trials in mid-ocean.
They couldnt stop the engines and sailed around in it until the
gas ran out; later abandoning the poor old bucket hoping it would eventually
sink. It didnt!
The news hit the national press as yet another hilarious drug adventure
that placed Galicia once again in the limelight as a haven for drug
Will drugs eventually die a natural death? Will the kids, and others
not so young stop being stupid and kick the habit? That is in
ye olde money is the $64,000 question!
© James Skinner February 2008.
a Mad World
do we feel about whats being going on and what lies in store for
us in the coming year?
Read an extract of James Skinner's
Goa File Author: James G. Skinner
(pp: 395) ISBN: 978-81-8253-079-9
Availability: In Stock (Ships within 1 to 2 days)
Publisher: Cyberwit.net, Allahabad, India
Pub. Date: Jan 2007
James G. Skinner, as he is know to his friends in Vigo, Spain was
born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a retired telecommunications
expert who has travelled the world over having worked for some of
the greatest of todayıs conglomerates such as Cable & Wireless,
US Sprint and British Telecom. Having lived in many different and
disparate countries spread across several continents, his knowledge
of and experience with people from different ethnic groups and social
backgrounds is second to none. He is a regular writer in Spanish
in the local papers of Galicia and is currently the Honorary British
Consul in the region. (read more)
James Skinner is
a journalist and commentator on contemporary Spanish affairs.
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