by David Robles
Results from the Nov. 2 general election in Arizona are still coming in, with medical marijuana Proposition 203 now within 725 votes of winning as of Friday afternoon. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell told The Associated Press that provisional ballots were leaning in favor of the measure. The gap has narrowed significantly since election day, when the measure was failing by about 7,000 votes. There were approximately 59,000 outstanding ballots left to count as of Friday afternoon. UPDATE: Prop. 203 passed!
Will California’s failed Proposition 19 launch a global conversation about marijuana prohibition? Reuters had an interesting post-election analysis on the measure here.
Gulf cartel leader Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas, or “Tony the Storm,” was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, on Friday according to the Associated Press. The next day, gunmen from the rival Zetas gang hung messages mocking his death. The Zetas, a gang of hit men formed more than a decade ago by former Mexican soldiers, split from the Gulf cartel earlier this year. President Obama called his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon on Saturday “to reaffirm United States support for Mexico’s efforts to end the impunity of organized criminal groups,” according to a statement from the White House. More than 31,000 people have been killed in Mexico since Calderon took office and launched his cartel crackdown in December 2006.
This week saw a continuation of the flagrant drug war violence in Mexico with at least 20 murdered over the weekend in Ciudad Juarez, the AP reported Monday. Seven men believed to be attending a family party were gunned down Saturday night and 11 others were killed the same day, including two whose bodies were found dismembered. Two Juarez police officers were gunned down in their patrol car on Sunday.
As the Mexican army’s role as Mexico’s chief policing force increases, reports of human rights violations have followed suit, according to Al Jazeera English. The National Human Rights Commission reported more than 1,800 violations allegedly committed by the army in 2009, a more than 800 percent increase since President Calderon took office in 2006.
A 12-year-old boy known only as El Ponchis, or “the cloak,” is allegedly working as a hired assassin for the South Pacific Drug Cartel leader Jesus Radilla, according to The Sun. Macabre videos of the boy depict him clubbing a man with a weapon marked “CPS” (Cartel Pacifico del Sur), posing with a rifle by a dead body, and slitting the throats of gang enemies nearly to the point of decapitation.
The ATF’s anti-gun trafficking initiative, Project Gunrunner, has “significant weaknesses,” according to a Department of Justice report Tuesday. The report criticized the ATF for focusing on less important gun dealers and “straw purchasers”rather than higher-level traffickers, smugglers, and the “ultimate recipients of the trafficked guns” in Mexico, Reuters reported, along with unsystematic sharing of intelligence with partners in the U.S. and Mexico. (Read our past coverage of gun trafficking to Mexico here.)
On Tuesday U.S. federal appeals court judge Juan Torruella told an audience at the University of Puerto Rico that legalizing marijuana and perhaps other drugs is a better way to combat drug abuse and crime. Nominated to be a federal judge by President Ford and elevated to the appeals court by Reagan in 1984, Judge Torruella believes legalization is the only “realistic” alternative following the loss of the drug war at great societal cost, according to AP.