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Cocaine Paste Abuse Threatens Families Throughout Southern Cone

first_img MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Authorities in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile are fighting to contain the growing abuse of cocaine paste — a cheap, yellowish cocaine smoked by thousands of people throughout South America’s Southern Cone. In all four countries, the abuse of cocaine paste, also known in Argentina as paco, is far lower than that of marijuana or cocaine. Only 0.8 percent of Uruguay’s 3.4 million inhabitants use cocaine paste, according to the National Home Survey on Drug Use; that compares to 4 percent for cocaine and 12.2 percent for marijuana. Cocaine paste is often linked with criminals and those living on the fringes of society, authorities say. In fact, the proportion of cocaine paste users rises to 8 percent in the poorest neighborhoods of Montevideo, according to that same survey. Milton Romani, a Montevideo psychologist and substance-abuse expert who in April finished a six-year term as secretary of the Uruguayan National Drug Board, suggests that the abuse of cocaine paste is “a sign of the times” that first appeared in Argentina with that country’s 2001 peso devaluation, then spread rapidly across the Río de la Plata to Uruguay. “The financial crisis gave birth to a new market for drug traffickers. Cocaine base is a low-cost product that could penetrate a particular market segment, because drug trafficking follows market rules,” said Romani, an international human rights adviser. “Traffickers have to change with the times. Since they can no longer acquire large quantities of precursor chemicals, they must look at the way they make cocaine: the large laboratories in Bolivia are broken up into several drug kitchens throughout Bolivia and Argentina.” In fact, the strong dollar caused the cost of powder cocaine to skyrocket throughout the region, as did the 1998 decision to ban precursor chemicals, which by 2000 was having an impact. Both made cocaine paste a cheaper and more readily available alternative, authorities say. Between 2001 and 2005, according to a study by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, the use of paco in Argentina jumped by 200 percent, with more than 150,000 youths taking it regularly. Even so, its users represent only 0.5 percent of Argentina’s population, said Mariano Donzelli of the Secretaria de Programacion de la Drogaddicion y la Lucha contra el Narcotrafico (Sedronar). That compares to cocaine, which is used by 2.6 percent of Argentines, and marijuana, which is smoked by 6.9 percent of the country’s inhabitants. In Chile, cocaine paste is abused by 0.4 percent of the population, compared to 0.7 percent for cocaine and 4.6 percent for marijuana, according to CONACE (Consejo Nacional para el Control de Estupefacientes de Chile). Its principal consumers are men aged 18 to 34 and from low-income groups. Cocaine paste is obtained from an intermediate phase in the transformation from coca leaf to cocaine hydrochloride. “When precursor chemicals were blocked in producer countries, those countries began to find it difficult to manufacture their final product, so they began to cut [the cocaine] with just about anything,” said Uruguayan judge Jorge Díaz, who specializes in organized crime. “Instead of exporting already purified cocaine from Colombia, they now export the cocaine paste — since production levels continue to be high — and they finish it later.” Romani said each kitchen is a small cog in the network that exports cocaine hydrochloride, which continues to generate the most business for drug traffickers, since that cocaine is shipped to Europe or the United States. Several variants of cocaine paste exist throughout the region, each with its own brand and distinct ingredients. It’s a very cheap product; a quick high costs less than $3.00. Users smoke it in a homemade pipe, and a single dose weighs less than a gram. The drug takes five to eight seconds to reach the brain, but the high generally doesn’t last for more than 10 minutes. Even so, it has devastating short-term effects including anorexia, antisocial and violent behavior, psychoses and hallucinations, according to a 2010 report by Uruguay’s Clemente Estable Biological Research Institute. “The first time a person uses cocaine paste, the pleasure is very fleeting,” Romani said. “Users then consume more of the drug to calm their anxiety and ill feelings.” Authorities say those living in poor neighborhoods eke out a living trafficking in cocaine paste, often as part of small, family-run networks. “This occurs in vulnerable sections of society because the factors that lead to all micro-trafficking are occurring there,” Romani said. “These are sustenance level networks that arose in the midst of the crisis.” The same pattern is found in Brazil, and it’s beginning to take root in Bolivia as well. Criminal organizations with specific characteristics are necessary to coordinate the importation, transportation, exportation and sale of cocaine. The effort requires a large initial investment. For example, in Uruguay one kilogram of cocaine powder costs $7,000 to $7,500, according to local officials; cocaine paste, by comparison, costs $2,000 per kilo. Díaz said shipments never exceed 30 kilos, and that shipments of 25 to 30 kilos are attempted only by very sophisticated trafficking networks. Smaller deliveries, which constitute the vast majority of shipments, usually employ “mules” or human couriers. “They find jobless youths, often drug addicts, and they pay them 10,000 pesos [about $550] per trip. The courier goes to Argentina, usually to Buenos Aires,” he said. “They even go and return by bus, bringing 10 or 15 kilos.” By Dialogo July 22, 2011 The paste is delivered to a certain area of Montevideo and from there it’s distributed to various neighborhoods that same night, since the points of sale receive their supplies on a daily basis. The mules make two or three trips a week, saving up money and getting to know their dealer. After awhile, they begin to buy some of the drugs for themselves. They transport 10 kilos for the dealer who hired them, and generally keep one kilo for their own use. Over the past few years, said Díaz, the trafficking business has spread like wildfire, and this has made it difficult to eradicate. “It’s very difficult to fight these dealers, because the dealers transport small amounts that they divide up quickly. Second, there are many small groups involved in trafficking. A sort of cottage industry has sprung up in the poorest areas: the families live off of this.” Even after a raid, he said, a family will keep selling drugs, “because if you prosecute the husband, the wife will take over; if you prosecute the wife, her mother will take over.” Added to this is the danger that small-time neighborhood trafficking rings might save up enough money in order to later export and traffic cocaine. However, few mechanisms or structures currently exist to encourage regional cooperation in battling cocaine paste. “We enforce laws on precursors, we prevent cocaine from being exported [to Europe or the United States], we have to combat coca cultivation, and we get stuck with this junk too?” Romani said. Recently, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission — a unit of the Washington-based Organization of American States — has embarked on an initiative, spearheaded by Brazil with U.S. support, to deal with the spread of cocaine paste. The joint platform involving Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay consists of a first stage for technical and scientific cooperation to determine which substances will be targeted; a second phase for coordination of specific police and interdiction operations, and a third stage for medical treatment. Yet drug abuse alone doesn’t necessarily lead to a rise in violent crime, said Mario Layera, director-general of the Uruguayan Drug Trafficking Enforcement Bureau. “What I have seen in my area is that when drug abusers don’t have money, they will try by any means necessary to get their fix. First they sell everything they have, and later they start to steal other’s property to get money,” Layera said. “But I think those actions are better classified as simple theft and not as violent crime. To put it simply, using drugs isn’t what makes me a thug or mugger. Rather, it is other factors related to my actions or my personality that lead me down that road. I think violence is caused by many factors, and we should study all of them.” Alcohol and drugs accounted for 36 percent of crimes committed by Uruguayan prison inmates, according to a recent study by the Uruguayan National Drug Board. Half of those were alcohol-related; the other half were related to cocaine paste. This means that only 18 percent of the prisoners surveyed attributed their crimes to cocaine paste. Unfortunately with cocaine paste, the first target of the violence it creates is the user’s own family. Someone who abuses cocaine paste “begins stealing from his immediate family,” Romani said. It is very important to understand certain issues, mainly drugs, especially coca, where they really originate, where they go and what routes criminals use to get them to the desired location. It is very important that southern cone countries never stop combating this social ill! It is difficult for one country to fight it alone. Cooperation between all South American countries is necessary. Without this, there won’t be any results!last_img read more

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Football Bees’ rally against C-NS falls just short

first_imgA minute remained in the half and the Northstars surprised the Bees with an onside kick, recovering it at midfield. Just 11 seconds before intermission, J.J. Razmovski found a streaking Adron Pafford down the right sideline for a 37-yard scoring play.In a span of less than four minutes, a close contest was now a 28-7 game, and B’ville could not afford to fall further behind. Instead, it began to climb back, sparked by a defense that held C-NS without a first down in the third quarter.Mixing in runs and passes from Braden McCard (including a 20-yard tipped pass to Pat May on fourth down, the Bees drove to the one, where Strong scored his second TD of the night.Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, McCard, from his own 40, threw down the left sideline to Pat May, who caught it, cut back and found the end zone, and the Bees were within a score, 28-21, with plenty of time to catch up.Pinned at its own 13-yard line after the ensuing kickoff, C-NS regrouped, and Razmovski made his three best throws of the night.One was a third-down pass to Mason Ellis that covered 23 yards. Then, on fourth-and-four at the Bees’ 47, Razmovski hit Pafford, who broke tackles on a 37-yard run to set up first-and-goal. Three plays later, Pafford lost his defender on a cut to the middle and Razmovski found him again, the TD covering 12 yards with 4:55 to play.That turned out to be the game-winner because B’ville again responded, McCard throwing a 12-yard TD pass to May with 1:13 left, but an onside kick was smothered by the Northstars, who were able to run out the clock.McCard completed eight of 10 passes for 177 yards and also ran for a career-best 103 yards on 10 carries, while Strong finished with 142 yards on 24 carries. May and Robert Hamm led the defense with seven tackles apiece as Dan Ewald added five tackles and three assists.B’ville (2-2 league, 3-3 overall) visits Fayetteville-Manlius (1-3 league, 2-4 overall) in next Friday’s regular-season finale. Only a win guarantees a post-season berth since a loss creates a three-way tie for third between the Bees, Hornets and the winner of the West Genesee-Rome Free Academy game, and of those three, two will qualify for the playoffs.Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditComment on this Story In the past, if the Baldwinsville football team ever had to face a three-touchdown-deficit in the second half, its style of play would almost preclude any idea for a glorious comeback.Yet on Friday night at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium, the Bees found itself battling back against visiting Cicero-North Syracuse, knowing that if it could complete its rally from a 28-7 hole, it would likely host a first-round Section III Class AA playoff game.B’ville did find the end zone three times – but it wasn’t quite enough as the Northstars parlayed a fourth-quarter scoring drive into a tense 35-28 victory and a chance to grab the Class AA-2 division regular-season title if it beats Utica Proctor next weekend. Both teams arrived at this game with 2-1 league marks, and they would trade scoring drives in the early going, C-NS taking a 7-0 lead, B’ville countering with a strong ground attack anchored by Willie Strong as he scored on a one-yard plunge early in the second quarter.It was still 7-7 when C-NS erupted late in the half. The catalyst was a scoring drive familiar to B’ville fans where the Northstars ran the ball on all 12 plays, with Mike Washington getting 11 of those carries and going the final yard for the TD.By contrast, the next time C-NS had the ball after a fourth-down stop by the defense at the B’ville 38, Washington needed only one play to sprint 62 yards to the end zone, making it 21-7.center_img Tags: Baldwinsvillefootballlast_img read more

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No. 19 USC begins season with tournament play

first_imgThe No. 19 USC women’s tennis team will compete this weekend at two competitions to kick off its season: the Freeman Memorial Women’s Tennis Championships hosted by the University of Nevada, in Las Vegas and the National Colliegate Tennis Classic in La Quinta, Calif.The Women of Troy will be competing against some of the best teams in the country at the Freeman Memorial tournament: No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Florida, No. 5 UCLA and No. 6 North Carolina will all be participating.Despite many higher ranked opponents participating, senior Maria Sanchez tops the singles lineup at this weekend’s competition in Las Vegas, ranking third in the nation in singles. Freshmen Kaitlyn Christian and Hayley Miller and senior Cristala Andrews will also be participating at the Freeman Memorial competition.At the NCTC, the first major invitational college tournament of the season, both men’s and women’s programs from across the country will participate in what is known as “the Wimbledon of College Tennis.” The competition features the top six men’s and women’s teams, along with top-ranked individual players from the leading universities across the country.Sophomore Danielle Lao, the ITA Southwest Regional champion in the fall and ranked No. 10 nationally, along with sophomore Valeria Pulido, junior Alison Ramos and senior Lyndsay Kinstler will represent USC at the NCTC.The team is hopeful that these tournaments, their last individual ones this season, will be successful.“Our belief in one another has never been stronger and with that alone we’ve put ourselves in a great position to compete the best we can, whether it’s in this individual tournament coming up or a dual match,” Lao said.After the Freeman Memorial and NCTC, the Women of Troy will begin dual season, which they are anticipating will go well based on their performances so far this season. In 2010, the team reached the NCAA tournament once again, finishing the year 14-10 overall.“[The NCTC] is our last individual tournament for a while. This will serve as tune-up before the dual matches begin,” Ramos said. “I can’t wait to get going with the tournament so that we can go into dual season fine-tuned and prepared.”After this weekend’s competitions, the team will look towards Jan. 18, its next opportunity to compete, where it will face Cal State Northridge in a dual meet at USC’s own Mark’s Stadium.“We’re excited for the spring to start and couldn’t be hungrier to do well,” Lao said.last_img read more

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