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The highlands are calling

17 October 2012

After writing a biography (though without the cooperation of his subject) on Chapo Guzmán … and spending years covering the “drug war” in Mexico, Malcolm Beith made the tour of the U.S. think tanks, but has returned to  “the worst country in the world for drug-related crimes” — where cranky clans have eked out a living on the barren backland mountains and feuded with each other for generations.  I mean, of course, his native Scotland:

International Herald-Tribune Rendevous, via New York Times:

… Thankfully, beheadings aren’t common here, like they are in Mexico — but in a recent Scottish court case, it was revealed that a group of drug traffickers allegedly had video clips of men having their heads chopped off on their mobile phones. This may be an omen.

Mexican and Colombian drug cartels are responsible for the majority of drugs trafficked into Scotland, through ports in southwestern Spain and English cities like Liverpool; in recent years, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency has made several arrests of British citizens importing cocaine from Bolivia and Ecuador, too.


Consumption shows no signs of slowing here: roughly four percent of Scots between 16 and 64 have used cocaine in the past year, according to authorities, nearly double the figure in the United States. American authorities recently announced a money laundering investigation into the Royal Bank of Scotland’s operations, citing concerns over deficiencies in governance, risk management and compliance systems — the very same issues that allowed billions belonging to Mexican cartels to pass through HSBC’s operations, prompting a severe scolding from the U.S. Senate and the resignation of HSBC’s head of compliance, David Bagley.

One thing I don’t understand is why Malcolm figures Scotland is doing something unique, or even particularly “heralded by other crime fighters around the world”.  When it comes to stopping the trafficking, Scots authorities, like every other country’s coppers, share information and target “kingpins” — although unlike Mexico, targeted kingpins seem to survive to stand trial, which is rather an innovative idea.

Beam me up

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