Wednesday - Apr 24, 2019

Colombian gov’t, FARC reach agreement to combat drug trafficking

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas pledged to sever all ties to drug trafficking and contribute to a definitive solution to the problem of illegal narcotics in the Andean nation once a final peace accord is reached with the government.
The FARC’s commitment was announced as part of an “agreement on illicit drugs” reached on Friday in Havana, the third accord that government and rebel negotiators have hammered out since the peace talks began in 2012.
Earlier, partial agreement was reached on land reform and the guerrillas’s participation in politics, while other issues, including the disarmament of the rebels and reparation for victims of the conflict, remain pending.
The FARC pledged to “contribute effectively and with the utmost determination, in different ways and through practical actions, to a definitive solution to the problem of illegal drugs.”
The guerrillas said that once the decades-long conflict is brought to a close they will end any links they maintained to drug trafficking as a “function of the rebellion.”
Colombian officials and their U.S. patrons say the FARC is deeply involved in the drug trade, while the insurgents insist that they merely impose a “tax” on illicit crops in areas under their control.

Vigilante leader cleared of homicide charges in Mexico
The founder of the self-defense groups that were formed to battle the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel in the western Mexican state of Michoacan has been cleared of accessory to murder charges due to lack of evidence, judicial officials said.
Hipolito Mora, who walked out of the prison where he had been held for just over two months at around 8:30 p.m. Friday, read a message in which he said he was confident that judicial authorities and the Mexican government would solve the crimes for which he was arrested in March.
The vigilante leader also said he would join a newly formed rural defense unit in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan and register all of his weapons. He added that the time he spent behind bars surely “saved my life” consider all the threats he faced from drug-trafficking gangs.
A spokesman for the court in Michoacán that ordered Mora released told Efe that Judge Plácido Torres Pineda upheld his defense team’s appeal against a March 19 decision ordering him to stand trial.
Judge Juan Salvador Alonso Mejía handed down that ruling eight days after Mora was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murders of two suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel: Rafael Sánchez Moreno and his driver, José Luis Torres Castañeda.
The burned bodies of Sánchez Moreno and Torres Castañeda were found March 8 in Buenavista, a town near La Ruana in the Tierra Caliente region, which straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.
Luis Antonio Torres, leader of one of the self-defense groups that operates in Michoacan and a friend of Sánchez Moreno, accused Mora of being an accessory to the double homicide.