Belmont Club

At the Hugo, Hugo Cabana

Maybe great minds think alike. What administration is supplying foreign drug cartels and gangs with guns while decrying legal gun ownership at home? Not the one you think. It’s Hugo Chavez’s.

Call it Operation Cheap and Nasty. Hugo Chavez is manufacturing of arms of foreign origin and design in Venezuela as this roundup of links and videos at Fausta’s Blog summarizes. Chavez is “bragging that [his ] gun factory’s now working at full capacity, producing a rifle named Catatumbo, and a ‘grenade, unique in the world,’ for the AK-103 automatic weapon, ‘produced with the help of the Russian government'”. There’s also stuff supplied by the Iranian government,  notably an Iranian-designed surveillance drone which Chavez’s burgeoning arms industry is producing.

It’s not for use by Venezuelans to protect themselves.  In fact, the BBC reports “Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition. Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company. Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.”

So far so enlightened.   The weapons will even be handed out to militias affiliated with Chavez to help them expropriate property from the one percenters of Venzuela. But there’s a dark side to it.

The Foreign Policy Research Institute thinks  the weapons are also destined for drug cartels, terror groups and assorted bad guys in Latin America.

In a global triangulation that would excite any conspiracy buff, the globalization of terrorism now links Colombian FARC with Hezbollah, Iran with Russia, elected governments with violent insurgencies, uranium with AK-103s, and cocaine with oil. At the center of it all, is Latin America—especially the countries under the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The most publicized (and publicly contested) connection between Hugo Chávez and the Colombian narcoterrorist organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was revealed after the March 2008 Colombian raid on the FARC camp in Devía, inside Ecuador, where a laptop was discovered that apparently belonged to Luis Edgar Devía Silva (aka, “Raúl Reyes”), head of FARC’s International Committee (COMINTER).

At this rate the drug cartels in Latin America will have connections not just to local politicians but to foreign powers.

Maybe Congressman Darrell Issa has got the wrong idea about Operation Fast and Furious, in which the Justice Department allegedly armed Mexican cartels. Suppose F&F wasn’t about a gun sale program gone wrong but one gone according to plan?

The authorities certainly need a new one. Decapitating cartel leadership isn’t working, and the drug war isn’t going anywhere. So perhaps the only thing left is to to take over the cartels or at least ‘engage’ with them and use them as proxy militias. The serious of the nexus between international politics and drug gangs arose in late 2011 when it was revealed that cartels were planning to attack US targets in Mexico with US supplied guns.

In October of 2008, Chicago-based drug trafficker Margarito “Twin” Flores was summoned to the Sinaloa Cartel’s mountaintop compound. The leaders of the Mexican narcotics syndicate were pissed. The brother of a top lieutenant had been arrested by the government and risked being extradited to the United States; the Sinaloans wanted to retaliate — in a massive and deadly way, and in the heart of Mexico City.

“Let it be a government building, it doesn’t matter whose. An embassy or a consulate, a media outlet or television station,” cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said. Even the U.S. embassy might be fair game.

“Twin, you know guys [in the U.S. military] coming back from the war,” the lieutenant’s son, Jesus Vincente Zambada Niebla, told Flores. “Find somebody who can give you big powerful weapons, American shit. We don’t want Middle Eastern or Asian guns, we want big U.S. guns, or RPGs [rocket propelled grenades].”

Twin Flores was engaging in a foreign policy. What else would an attack on the US embassy with guns originating from US gun dealers have been. And what a message it would have sent. Why every newspaper in America would have been calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Maybe every drug gang is now looking for a patron — Russia, Iran come to mind — and there is now no option but for everyone to play in the same pool.

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