The Sinaloa Cartel
Territory: Much of the north-west.
The US government has described the Sinaloa Cartel as one of the largest drug-trafficking organisations in the world.
Founded in the late 1980s, it was for many years headed by the notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. “El Chapo” – or “Shorty” – was once ranked as one of the world’s richest men. His life and vast drug-trafficking empire have been the subject of numerous books and TV series.
Under his leadership, the cartel garnered a fierce reputation for violence and outfought several rival groups. Mexican cartels often clash with one another, but it’s also worth noting that they can form strategic alliances as well.
The Sinaloa became the biggest supplier of illegal drugs to the US during Guzmán’s long reign as leader, officials say.
The cartel kidnapped, tortured and slaughtered members of rival criminal gangs. It also had access to a huge arsenal of weapons, including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and Guzmán’s own gold plated AK-47.
But in July 2019, the drug lord was sentenced to life in prison following one of the most high-profile trials in recent US history.
Prosecutors said Guzmán had trafficked cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and kept a network of dealers, kidnappers and assassins on his payroll.
His jailing led to an increase of violence in the region as other groups sought to take advantage. Despite this, the Sinaloa Cartel remains hugely powerful. It still dominates north-west Mexico and is reported to have a presence in cities ranging from Buenos Aires to New York.
It also continues to make billions of dollars from trafficking illicit narcotics to the US, Europe and Asia, experts say. With its long-time leader now behind bars, the cartel is said to be partially controlled by Mr Guzmán’s son, Ovidio Guzmán Lopez
When the younger Guzmán was arrested by the security forces in October 2019, Sinaloa Cartel gunmen were quick to demonstrate the group’s serious military might.
They fought street battles with the army in broad daylight, set fire to vehicles, and even staged a prison break before their leader was eventually freed. It was a sign the group remains an immensely powerful force.
The Jalisco New Generation (CJNG)
Territory: The west, mainly the Tierra Caliente region.
Formed in about 2010, the Jalisco cartel is the strongest and most aggressive competitor to the Sinaloa.
The group has expanded rapidly across Mexico and is now one of the country’s most dominant organised crime groups. Its assets are thought to be worth more than $20bn (£15.5bn).
The cartel is led by Ruben Oseguera, known as “El Mencho”, a former police officer who is Mexico’s most wanted man. The bounty for his capture? A cool $10m.
The Jalisco cartel is one of the main distributors of synthetic drugs on the continent, according to the US government. It is a key player in the illegal amphetamine market in the US and Europe and is also thought to have links to the drug market in Asia.
It has grown much more powerful in recent years and its rise has been fuelled by its use of extreme violence.
“It remains the most aggressive cartel in Mexico,” according to the US-based geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor. “Its efforts to expand its area of control are largely responsible for the persistent wave of violence racking Tijuana, Juarez, Guanajuato and Mexico City.”
Indeed, the cartel has gained notoriety for a series of attacks on security forces and public officials.
It has downed an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, killed dozens of state officials, and has even been known to hang the bodies of its victims from bridges to intimidate its rivals.
And, according to experts in the region, it is set to expand further.
Bogota, Colombia – Cesar Castillo and his partner beg for help on the street of a wealthy Bogota, Colombia, neighbourhood with their eight-month-old son.Castillo, 26, left Venezuela three months ago, in search of opportunities as his economically crippled homeland continues to suffer a lack of medical and food supplies.The last time he saw a doctor was in 2018 when he injured his leg in a motorbike accident in his hometown of Maracay, a 40-minute drive from the Venezuelan capital Caracas. His injury became infected in hospital, and the necessary antibiotics were not available. His leg was amputated.”If it (coronavirus) arrives in Venezuela, it’s going to be horrible. So many will die,” he said, balancing on his crutches in the middle of the busy shopping street, recalling his hospital trauma. “There’s no medicine; people literally die.”
Castillo’s fears deepened this week when officials announced that two people inside Venezuela had tested positive for the disease. The cases sparked concern, not just in Venezuela, but also in Colombia where millions of Venezuelans have fled to in recent years.
Colombia has 22 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which has now been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The government of President Ivan Duque announced late Friday that non-nationals would be barred from entering the country from March 16 if they have been in Europe or Asia over the past two weeks. It also announced the closure of the border with Venezuela, prompting fears of what such measures may mean for those who rely on medicine, medical supplies and other goods from Colombia. Venezuela slammed the decision as “an act of gross irresponsibility”.
Mariquita is a beautiful town with all kinds of exotic fruits located in the middle central part from colombia
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The Air Force’s super-secret new bomber recently completed its critical design review, an Air Force official confirmed Dec. 6.
The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record on the program, offered no further details about the status of the B-21 Raider. However, Air Force officials had stated that the milestone was slated to occur by the end of 2018 — putting the program on pace to begin fielding aircraft around 2025.
During the Reagan National Defense Forum on Dec. 1, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters that the program had recently accomplished a key review, although it was not immediately clear whether it was the critical design review.
“It’s a good example of how to run a major acquisition program well and why delegation of authority back to the services … works to get high quality and to do so quickly,” Wilson said.
The Air Force has only sparsely released information about the Northrop Grumman-produced bomber, and details about the exact status of the plane’s development — such as whether a prototype exists or has been flown — continue to be shrouded in mystery.
The service plans on buying at least 100 B-21s, but airpower advocates are hopeful that the requirement will grow in light of the Air Force’s stated desire to grow its number of bomber squadrons from 9 to 14 by 2030.
The program is managed by the service’s Rapid Capabilities Office, a small shop separated from the Air Force’s larger acquisition apparatus that is able to use special authorities to more quickly develop and field new technologies.
Earlier this year, RCO head Randall Walden acknowledged that office has begun component testing and put a subscale model of the bomber through wind tunnel tests.
“From my perspective, this is about producing 100 bombers, not about just getting through development,” he added. “Development is a phase that leads into the fielding of this critical need. So my focus is getting the production started, but I can’t do that until we understand what the design looks like.”
In November, the service announced that it had picked Edwards Air Force Base in California to handle testing and evaluation of the advanced long-range strike bomber and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma for depot maintenance of the B-21. Robins Air Force Base in Georgia and Hill Air Force Base in Utah will also play a role in sustaining the aircraft.
Finca Calamay is located in San Sebastian de Mariquita is a town and municipality in the Tolima department of Colombia, about 150 km (93 mi) northwest of Bogotá. This town and municipality contains several important Spanish settlements that were located here due to its vicinity to the Magdalena River. Today, Mariquita is frequented by tourists from the capital visiting attractions like the Medina Waterfalls (Las Cataratas de Medina) and the mint (casa de la moneda). The Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada is buried here. Today it is home to large hotels and haciendas, among them La Villa de los Caballeros.
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According to Breitbart News, the FARC is the third richest terrorist group in the world, earning an estimated $600 million dollars a year, mostly through drug trafficking. A recent DEA report revealed the FARC syndicate works in concert with Mexican Drug Cartels to access U.S. markets. To enter the European market, the FARC partners with Al-Qaeda, according to Moroccan and Spanish news sources — It’s an impressive global network of drug traffickers and terrorists
On November 6, 1985, an alliance between Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the terrorist group M-19 resulted in the violent siege of Colombia’s Palace of Justice. M-19, financed and armed by Escobar, murdered 15 Supreme Court magistrates, 29 civilians and 11 members of the armed forces, by gunfire, grenade attacks and immolation. For Escobar it was an opportunity to derail the Court’s extradition deliberations; for the M-19 it was an attempted coup to establish a communist dictatorship. The siege failed because the Armed Forces, led by General Armando Arias Cabrales, and Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega defeated the terrorists, saving 263 lives in the process. But thirty years on, the alliance between drugs, communism and terror has been fully consummated in the form of the narco-terrorist group FARC – and Colombia is on the brink of becoming a narco-failed State.November 12-2015
The ongoing peace negotiations between President Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the FARC presume that the FARC is merely a political insurgency. The government has argued – through Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre – that all its atrocities are, therefore, “political” and pardonable under Colombian law. However, while the FARC leaders certainly want to impose a communist regime, they are also a successful criminal syndicate – more sophisticated and wealthier than Escobar’s Cartel ever was.
According to Breitbart News, the FARC is the third richest terrorist group in the world, earning an estimated $600 million dollars a year, mostly through drug trafficking. A recent DEA report revealed the FARC syndicate works in concert with Mexican Drug Cartels to access U.S. markets. To enter the European market, the FARC partners with Al-Qaeda, according to Moroccan and Spanish news sources — It’s an impressive global network of drug traffickers and terrorists.
Yet AG Montealegre’s Office maintains that the FARC are neither drug traffickers or terrorists. President Santos has even asked the media to “de-escalate verbal violence” and stop using those terms to refer to the FARC. The AG’s argument, as made by prosecutors at a Justice and Peace hearing in 2014, was that there was no evidence to establish that the FARC had become an organization “dedicated exclusively to drug trafficking.” But the fact that they are also dedicated to kidnapping, extortion, sexual slavery and illegal mining, does not negate the 250 tons of cocaine exported in 2013, according to narcotics and terrorism expert Diego Corrales; or the more than 300 tons they exported in 2014, per the U.N.
Nor can the atrocities that the FARC has committed to maintain control of the drug trade be ignored. The massacre by the FARC of 34 civilians in La Gabarra, in Colombia’s northeast region, can hardly be described as a “political” crime of freedom-fighters. According to survivor accounts in El Tiempo, members of the FARC arrived at a coca-growing camp in the pre-dawn hours of June 15, 2004. They forced the workers onto the ground at gunpoint, tied them up, and shot them with AK-47s – all because the coca camp was controlled by paramilitaries, the FARC’s competitors in the drug business.
More heinous still, was the FARC’s massacre at Taraza, in December 2001. FARC members rounded up civilians in a paramilitary-run coca processing lab in the village, murdered them, and then set fire to 17 houses in the area, according to witnesses. Eleven of the deceased were found decapitated and had been dismembered with machetes or chainsaws.
Still, President Santos claims that the Peace Process that will allow all FARC leaders to avoid jail, enable them to hold government positions and engage in politics, will end the drug problem: “We have a golden opportunity,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post, saying the FARC would help persuade farmers to stop growing coca – the same farmers the FARC has “persuaded” for decades to grow it.
Colombians aren’t buying it. A November Gallup poll showed 91 percent of the population did not support the FARC and 81 percent do not believe the FARC will stop drug trafficking. Their positions are well-founded: during the four years of the peace negotiations, coca production has increased. In fact, thanks to the FARC’s “persuasive” tactics, Colombia is once again the world’s top coca producer, as reported in the Washington Post this week. What does this mean for the U.S.? According to General John Kelly, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, the drugs exported by the FARC result in 40,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.
As Colombians reflected this week on the 30 years since the M-19’s siege of the Palace of Justice, Jaime Castro, Colombia’s Minister of Government at the time, said in an interview: “If the assailants had triumphed, we would have been a narco-State.” That possibility is more real today than ever: Through the current peace deal, backed by the Obama Administration, the Santos government is poised to deliver the country to one of the most brutal criminal enterprises in the world. Colombians don’t deserve that. The U.S. should not support it.
Colombia has a very diverse geography and as such, is home to equally diverse nature and wildlife. With two coastlines on different oceans as well as the famous Andes Mountain range and part of the Amazon rainforest, there are many opportunities to experience unique flora and fauna throughout the country.
A favourite destination for bird watchers, Colombia is home to over 1,800 species of birds. This number is more than the amount of bird species found in North America and Europe combined. The national bird of Colombia is the Andean Condor which, naturally, inhabits the Andes Mountain range. One of the largest birds in the world, the condor has a wingspan of up to 3.2 m (10.5 ft).
As well as birds, Colombia also hosts over 450 mammal species. Of these 450 species, approximately 22% are listed as either endangered or critically endangered. Interestingly, Colombia has the largest number of terrestrial mammals (those that live predominantly or entirely on land) in the world. Some of the most common animals that are found in Colombia are anteaters, sloths, tapirs, spectacled bears, deer, capybaras, pumas, jaguars and several monkey species.
While there is a large population of terrestrial mammals in the country, Colombia’s two coastlines, one on the Pacific Ocean and one on the Caribbean means that the waters surrounding the country are home to diverse marine life. As Colombia is only now emerging as a popular tourist destination, its Pacific coast is truly a hidden gem that hosts some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. Humpback whales are common here and the isolation of the area provides an incredibly unique experience. In the Chocó department on the northern Caribbean coast, leatherback sea turtles are frequent visitors returning each year to lay their eggs. Colombia hosts the island of Malpelo, a nature reserve and UNESCO listed World Heritage Site located 378 km (235 mi) from the mainland. Malpelo affords visitors amazing diving adventures as the area is known for its unique shark population which includes hundreds of hammerhead and silky sharks.
In order to preserve the country’s remarkable wildlife and fragile ecosystems, a network of protected areas has been established throughout the years. As of 2013, there were fifty-six designated areas that have been classified as national natural parks, flora and fauna sanctuaries, national reserves, parkways and unique natural areas. These various regions account for more than 10% of the country. Two of the most popular national parks of Colombia are Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park and Tayrona National Natural Park. Rosario and San Bernardo was established in 1977 as a way to protect colourful coral reefs and the underwater ecosystem that exists there. It is the only underwater park in the country boasting 52 species of coral and 215 fish species. Tayrona National Natural Park was designated in 1969 to preserve the biological and archaeological integrity of the area. Popular with bird lovers, the area is home to over 300 bird species as well as more than 100 mammal species.
Colombia Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Colombia.
Learn about the history and culture of Colombia, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Colombia’s nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with ‘Country Quickfacts’ compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you’re properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Colombia for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Colombia tours today!
Extend Your Trip
After your Colombia tours, why not consider another of Goway’s Latin America tours. These include a large selection of other exciting countries in Central and South America. We offer Chile vacation packages and Easter Island tours, Ecuador vacation packages which include Galapagos cruises, Peru vacatiion packages which include Machu Picchu tours and Brazil tours including Iguassu Falls tours among many others.
A joint venture between the British and French governments, Concorde redefined what it was to fly when its first commercial flight took off 40 years ago today. To celebrate the momentous occasion, here are 40 intriguing facts about the supersonic aircraft.
1. Concorde’s first successfully completed supersonic flight took place on October 1, 1969, but it wasn’t until January 21, 1976, that the first commercial flights took place. On that day a British Airways Concorde flight flew from London to Bahrain and an Air France Concorde flight flew from Paris to Rio de Janeiro via Dakar.
2. A one-way fare on the inaugural flight from London to Bahrain cost £356; at the time flying the route in a conventional first-class service cost £309.50.
3. The aircraft seated 100 passengers: 40 in the front cabin and 60 in the rear cabin.
4. Flights accommodated a crew of nine: two pilots, one flight engineer and a cabin crew of six.
5. The aircraft was subjected to 5,000 hours of testing before it was first certified for passenger flight, making it the most tested aircraft ever
6. The first Concorde flight to America was to Dallas Forth Worth on September 20, 1973.
7. The quintessential Concorde route, between London and New York, was inaugurated on November 22, 1977.
8. A typical London to New York crossing would take a little less than three and a half hours as opposed to about eight hours for a subsonic flight
9. Concorde still holds the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a civil aircraft. The quickest Concorde flight from New York to London, on February 7 1996, took just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.
10. Concorde fares between London and New York cost over £1,000 by the 1980s, but canny passengers could save hundreds of pounds by flying the route as a courier and personally delivering sensitive cargo between the two destinations.
11. Concorde had a take-off speed of 220 knots (250mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph – more than twice the speed of sound. Its landing speed was 187mph.
12. The first round-the-world flight by a BA Concorde took place on November 8, 1986. The aircraft covered 28,238 miles in 29 hours 59 minutes.
13. Concorde could fly up to 60,000ft, a height of over 11 miles. From there, at the edge of space in the layers between the stratosphere and the ionosphere it was possible for passengers to see the curvature of the Earth.
14. Due to the intense heat of the airframe, Concorde could stretch anywhere from six to 10 inches during flight. Every surface, even the windows, was warm to the touch by the end of the flight.
15. Concorde was painted in a specially developed white paint to accommodate these changes in temperature and to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight.
16. The plane had a fuel capacity of 26,286 Imperial gallons (119,500 litres) and consumed 5,638 Imperial gallons (25,629 litres) per hour.
17. The aircraft had a range of 4,143 miles (6,667 kms).
18. Though they spent little time on board, Concorde passengers could expect to be generously fed. The menu on British Airways’ first commercial flight included Dom Perignon 1969 champagne, caviar and lobster canapes, grilled fillet steak, palm heart salad with Roquefort dressing and fresh strawberries with double cream. In another sign of the times, customers were also offered Havana cigars.
19. Only 14 different Concorde aircraft ever flew commercially.
20. Concorde didn’t just transport passengers and their luggage. It was sometimes used to transport human organs, diamonds and currency.
21. James Callaghan was the first British prime minister to travel at supersonic speeds when he flew by Concorde to see President Carter in Washington to negotiate landing rights for the aircraft in the US.
22. Concorde was also popular with the Queen and celebrities. Joan Collins travelled with the aircraft so frequently that she became something of an ambassador for the service. Other notable passengers included Elton John, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor and Sean Connery.
23. Diana Ross was arrested before boarding Concorde, for assaulting a security officer who had attempted to search her.
24. Phil Collins famously used Concorde to perform at Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia on July 13, 1985.
25. Concorde made just under 50,000 flights during its lifespan.
26. Concorde was also chartered for private group tours. The first, from Heathrow to Nice for the Monaco Grand Prix, departed on May 15, 1983.
27. Some 2.5 million passengers flew supersonically with Concorde.
28. Concorde’s oldest passenger was Eva Woodman, from Bristol. She was aged 105 during her flight from Filton over the Bay of Biscay in 1998.
29. Plans to enhance Concorde’s interiors were scuppered when the aircraft was withdrawn from service. Sir Terence Conran had been enlisted to revitalise the décor in 2001 and had planned lighting features that would turn a cool blue when Concorde flew through the sound barrier at Mach 1. The proposal was never realised.
30. During the design process that preceded the development of Concorde, the aircraft manufacturing company Handley Page Limited suggested seating passengers within compartments in the plane’s wings.
31. A planned route from London to Singapore via Bahrain, operated in conjunction with Singapore Airlines, was cancelled after just three return flights due to complains about noise disturbances caused by the aircraft’s sonic boom.
32. Concorde was impeded from flying over Saudi Arabian airspace as it was felt that noise from the aircraft would disturb camel breeding.
33. The most disastrous day in Concorde’s history was on July 25, 2000. A flight departing from Paris ran over a piece of titanium that had fallen from another aircraft. It burst the tire and resulted in the fuel tank igniting. The plane crashed killing all on board.
34. Though it has fallen from public consciousness, Russia’s TU-144 supersonic aircraft commenced service before Concorde. It made its maiden flight on December 31, 1968, two months before Concorde, and went into service delivering cargo the following year. It first flew passengers in 1977 and after crashing twice was withdrawn from commercial service in 1985.
35. During its time in service, Concorde’s profitability figures weren’t released by BA but it is understood that the service wasn’t a profitable enterprise. Fuel costs were significant and other incidents, such as the Paris crash, caused consumers to lose confidence in the aircraft. After the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001, passenger rates fell to less than 50 per cent.
36. Concorde’s last commercial flight was from New York to Heathrow on October 24, 2003.
37. By the time flights finished, Concorde was the last BA aircraft that had a flight engineers as part of the crew.
38. Concorde can still be seen at the following sites: Museum of Flight, East Fortune, near Edinburgh (Alpha Alpha); Heathrow Airport (Alpha Bravo), Aviation viewing park, Manchester Airport (Alpha Charlie), The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York (Alpha Delta); Grantley Adams Airport, Bridgetown, Barbados (Alpha Echo); Airbus UK, Filton, Bristol (Alpha Foxtrot); The Museum of Flight, Seattle (Alpha Golf). An eighth Concorde (Delta Golf), owned by British Airways but never operated commercially, was the final test aircraft. It can be seen at Brooklands Museum in Weybridge.
39. Though BA has no plans to recommence Concorde flights, the aircraft may fly again soon. Club Concorde, a collective of aviation enthusiasts and former Concorde pilots and charterers, claims it has adequate financial backing and expertise to independently place a Concorde plane on display on London’s South Bank by 2017 and to return the supersonic aircraft to service by 2019.
40. Concorde has also provided inspiration to a number of other aviation and engineering firms that are hoping to launch transatlantic commercial supersonic flights by the 2020s.
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