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Drug Cartels Are Building Assassin Drones

Mexican Federal Police arrested four men driving a stolen vehicle on Oct. 20 in Guanajuato, in Central Mexico, and in the car’s trunk, in a container next to an AK-47 variant rifle, they found a weapon that could soon change the nature of policing criminal gangs.

What they discovered was a remote-controlled flying drone that can be purchased online for around $229, yet fitted with a homemade bomb.

The Mexican drug cartels can use the flying bombs for targeted assassinations, and the technology behind the bomb drone pulls from recent developments in homemade weapons by terrorist groups including the Colombian communist terror group FARC and ISIS.

The significance of the finding was pointed out in a recent report in Small Wars Journal—El Centro by senior fellows Dr. Robert Bunker and Dr. John Sullivan. In an email interview, Bunker said that such developments in cartel weaponry may be “inevitable.”

“A criminal insurgency has been raging in Mexico for over a decade now with well over 100,000 homicides taking place,” Bunker stated in the email, noting that the insurgency in Mexico blurs the lines between criminal activity and a war.

And recently in the conflict, Bunker notes, “What can be considered terrorist TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) have been increasingly coming into play, such as the use of human shields and now the fielding of a weaponized drone.”

The use of bomb drones is a trend. Drug cartels in Mexico have begun using drones to smuggle drugs across the border, and the Small Wars Journal report notes that between 2012 and 2014 the cartels made an estimated 150 intrusions with drones into the United States. They’ve also been using the drones at an increasing rate to gather information for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The next trend is the explosive device found on the drone. It is what insurgents call a potato bomb, or “papas bombas,” or “Bombas de impacto,” which consists of explosive materials wrapped into a ball with shrapnel. The report notes the bombs have been used by the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación and by FARC.

At least four cases of papas bombas being used in attacks have been reported in Mexico since February.

The idea of strapping bombs like these onto drones is not a new concept, but it’s on the cutting edge of weapons used by terrorist groups. ISIS terrorists have used drones to carry and drop bombs on targets. The report states, “Such use is well known and has been identified in [ISIS] tactical actions taking place as early as December 2015 in Tishrin, Syria and June 2016 in Khan Touman, Syria.”

While Bunker notes it’s not yet certain if the four individuals arrested with the rifle and bomb drone were members of a cartel, the technology, other items seized in the arrest, and location of the arrest suggest they were.

Bunker notes that Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) has used such weapons, and the arrest was in Guanajuato, where CJNG is fighting for control against two other drug cartels, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel.

“We are working under the assumption that this weaponized drone may be CJNG-linked but no evidence of such a confirmed linkage presently exists,” Bunker said.

Bunker stated that he spoke in Mexico City in June at an Armored Vehicle Latin America conference, where he raised the issue of the cartels using drones as weapons.

He said the use of weaponized drones would “immediately place Mexican state and federal police as well as the military on the defensive,” until they’re able to roll out technologies to counter the devices—technologies which the local authorities do not currently have.

Bunker notes the development is taking place in a region that has become a “petri dish” of cartels experimenting with new technologies and weapons. While the area is relatively far from the U.S.-Mexico border, “Such cartel technology use diffusion of course has the potential to spread north to the cartels and/or cartel factions operating in the borderlands.”

The U.S. government is aware of the growing threat and is already rolling out systems capable of countering drones.

According to the researchers, this development in counter-weapons was mainly due to ISIS and other terrorist organizations beginning to use drones in their attacks over the last few years.

With the cartels now going this route as well, however, Bunker notes that, moving forward, U.S. Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents “will of course want to begin tracking cartel drone use patterns if they are not already doing so.”

Philippines’ Duterte winds down drug war to please ‘bleeding hearts & media’

Philippines’ Duterte winds down drug war to please ‘bleeding hearts & media’

President Duterte says he’ll no longer lead the crusade against drugs after suspending the Philippine National Police operations against narcotraffic earlier this week. The country’s Drug Enforcement Agency will now singlehandedly lead the ‘War on Drugs’.

On Tuesday, Duterte signed a memorandum, tasking the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be the “sole agency” to battle illegal drugs. The order effectively suspended Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang operations again drugs in the country, which were conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for over a year. The National Bureau of Investigation was also ordered to halt its operations on drugs.

Since taking office in June last year, Duterte has made tackling the drug problem in the Philippines his number-one priority.

The campaign faced heavy criticism from human rights bodies and foreign leaders as thousands of people lost their lives in drug-related killings either in the police raids or by vigilantes, business rivals and drug dealers covering up traces.

The crackdown resulted in almost 3,900 deaths, according to official police figures cited by USA Today. Human rights organizations, however, estimate that more than 8,000 people have been killed since June 2016.

On Friday, Duterte stated that he will no longer interfere in the national fight against drugs, in part because of all the negative publicity and criticism.

“I will not anymore interfere. I am not washing my hands. I just don’t want to be involved anymore,” Duterte said in an interview aired on PTV 4 on Friday. “If there are drug operations, I told police ‘Do not interfere. If you see a chase and they say it’s drugs, you leave. Let them be.’ So if somebody dies, the priests, you go to PDEA.”

Duterte apparently wants to make his ‘war on drugs’ more transparent to avoid any sort of criticism and public stain on his image. The order to withdraw the police should satisfy the “bleeding hearts and the media,” the Filipino leader said, according to the Inquirer.

While warning that PDEA may face “many grave consequences” in its fight against drugs, Duterte underlined that the new arrangement will be “appreciated by the priests, by the human rights [advocates].”

“Human rights should help the PDEA. They should go after [the drug lords],” he added sarcastically.

This is the second time Duterte ordered the suspension of the drug war. He suspended police anti-drugs operations in late January, but repealed the decision five weeks later.

Commenting on the latest development, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that Duterte made his move to “apparently to accommodate” critics who argue that the “campaign against drugs should be conducted otherwise.”

According to the head of PDEA, the anti-narcotics campaign will now become more transparent.

“I want it to be a transparent operation. [The] media will always be invited [to] our operations. We will always wear our body cams during operations,” Aaron Aquino told the Inquirer in a text message.

At least 85 members of the Philippines’ security personnel have lost their lives in the drug war. Throughout the duration of the campaign, the security forces managed to arrest at least 1,400 high-value targets and detain over 107,000 drug abusers. Authorities also seized at least 2,465 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Despite the announced changes in the Philippines’ fight against drugs, human rights groups have received the news with caution.

“We are concerned that this too may be nothing but a short-term PR move in response to growing public outrage about the drug war’s many victims, which are overwhelmingly poor, and include children,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s director of southeast Asia and the Pacific, was quoted as saying by Philstar.

Gomez fears that the change of tactics will not have any “meaningful” impact in saving people’s lives as he urged Manila to abandon “the government’s fundamental policy of supporting extrajudicial executions of drug suspects.”

“If Duterte believes that declaring another suspension in police killing operations will ease pressure for a UN-led international investigation into the drug war, he should think again,” Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Asia, Phelim Kine, told Rappler Friday.

Opioid prescription drug deaths dwarf shooting deaths, yet there’s no call to ban Big Pharma

Americans continue to mourn the dozens of people who were killed and hundreds wounded by a crazed lunatic in Las Vegas on Sunday, and as is usually the case when guns are involved in a mass murder incident, the usual suspects are once more calling for gun bans.

Image: Opioid prescription drug deaths dwarf shooting deaths, yet there’s no call to ban Big Pharma

“Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “Last night’s massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation’s history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year.”

“This must stop,” he continued. “It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

Of course, to Democrats, the only ‘appropriate’ “public policy response” is to ban something — unwanted speech, guns, Trump supporters, and now, most likely, country music festivals in Vegas.

But isn’t it curious that in the face of a real epidemic that has killed more people than guns ever could — the opioid epidemic — none of these would-be authoritarians are calling for any bans on Big Pharma. (Related: Democrats waste NO time politicizing Las Vegas shooting in quest to ban ALL guns.)

As reported by Natural News founder/editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger:

According to federal statistics, opioid prescription drugs killed 33,091 Americans in 2015 alone. Estimates put those numbers above 36,000 deaths for 2017.

The death toll at the Las Vegas Mandalay massacre was 59 (so far). Though a horrifying tragedy, opioid drugs alone are killing 560 times more people each year than died in the Vegas tragedy.

This means that opioid drugs alone are causing the near-equivalent of two Las Vegas massacres PER DAY in terms of the number killed.

That’s obscene. It’s criminal. But there are currently no calls at all to ban this highly dangerous, highly lethal class of drugs. Could it be because Big Pharma is such a big contributor to political campaigns?

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks industry donations to political parties and candidates, Big Pharma contributed nearly $60 million in 2016 alone. In the 2014 election cycle, the figure was nearly $30 million, and in 2012 — a presidential year — donations were nearly $50 million. So in just three election cycles, Big Pharma contributed somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 million to political action committees, individual politicians and other political organizations. It’s no wonder everyone on Capitol Hill is going soft on opioids.

In recent days, as reported by The National Sentinel, the Trump administration made some progress in curbing over-prescribing of opioids, which has been a major contributor to the epidemic. A presidential panel, the Commission on Combatting Drug Addition and Opioid Crisis headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, detailed new partnerships with researchers across academia, government, prescribers and patients to curb by half the amount of time needed to make available prescriptions that are not addictive.

“Over-prescribing can lead to excess pills falling into the wrong hands,” said PhRMA CEO Stephen J. Ubl. He added, “given the scope of this crisis, we believe it’s the right thing to do,” adding that it is “candidly an unprecedented step for the industry.”

His company will begin backing limits on opioid supplies to seven days rather than the traditional 30-day prescription cycle. And while that’s a good first step, it certainly isn’t a ban.

And no politician is calling for one, either, despite a mounting death toll that is so large it is overwhelming local medical examiners.

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.

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Drug Overdoses Now The Leading Killer Of American Adults Under 50

The opioid crisis that is ravaging urban and suburban communities across the US claimed an unprecedented 59,000 lives last year, according to preliminary data gathered by the New York Times. If accurate, that’s equivalent to a roughly 19% increase over the approximately 52,000 overdose deaths recorded in 2015, the NYT reported last year.

Overdoses, made increasingly common by the introduction of fentanyl and other powerful synthetic opioids into the heroin supply, are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017. One coroner in Western Pennsylvania told a local newspaper that his office is literally running out of room to store the bodies, and that it was recently forced to buy a larger freezer.

The initial data points to large increases in these types of deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, the Times estimated that overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.

In some Ohio counties, deaths from heroin have virtually disappeared. Instead, the primary culprit is fentanyl or one of its many analogues. In Montgomery County, home to Dayton, of the 100 drug overdose deaths recorded in January and February, only three people tested positive for heroin; 97 tested positive for fentanyl or another analogue.

 In some states in the western half of the US, data suggest deaths may have leveled off for the time being – or even begun to decline. Experts believe that the heroin supply west of the Mississippi River, traditionally dominated by a variant of the drug known as black tar which is smuggled over the border from Mexico, isn’t as easily adulterated with lethal analogues as the powder that’s common on the East Coast.

First responders are finding that, with fentanyl, carfentanil and the other analogues, overdoses can be so severe that multiple shots of naloxone – the anti-overdose medication that often goes by the brand name Narcan – are needed to revive people. One EMT in Warren County, Ohio told the Times that sometimes as many as 14 doses of Narcan are needed to revive a patient.

“It’s like a squirt gun in a house fire,” the EMT said.

But, as Robert Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch of the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC explains, toxicology results, which are necessary to assign a cause of death, can take three to six months or longer.

“It’s frustrating, because we really do want to track this stuff,” he said.

While the process in each state varies slightly, death certificates are usually first filled out by a coroner, medical examiner or attending physician. These death certificates are then collected by state health departments and sent to the N.C.H.S., which assigns what’s called an ICD-10 code to each death. This code specifies the underlying cause of death, and it’s what determines whether a death is classified as a drug overdose, the NYT reported.

We can say with confidence that drug deaths rose a great deal in 2016, but it is hard to say precisely how many died or in which places drug deaths rose most steeply. Because of the delay associated with toxicology reports and inconsistencies in the reported data, our estimate could vary from the true number by several thousand.