U.S. Coal Exports: ‘Very Real Possibility of Going to Zero’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Julie Silvederio for SNL:The largest coal-producing province in southern China, Guizhou, aims to close 510 coal mines in the next 3 to 5 years, cutting coal production capacity by 70 million tonnes amid the industrywide supply glut, Xinhua News Agency reported March 5, citing the provincial government. Since 2013, Guizhou was able to reduce the number of its operational and under construction coal mines to less than 800 from 1,700 and it targets to close over 80 coal mines in 2016.Late in February, the National Energy Administration announced China’s plan to shutter over a thousand coal mines in 2016, which could impact the U.S. coal industry, being a major coal exporter to China.The range of coal exported by the U.S. to China over the last five years is from 1 million to 10 million tons, Director of Finance Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis told S&P Global Market Intelligence. “We would expect those numbers to be on the low end of this range in 2016 and for the foreseeable future. Very real possibility of going to zero,” he added.China’s Guizhou province aims to close over 500 coal mines in 3 to 5 years amid supply glut
It seems the workday often follows me to the day’s end. Well after I arrive home, sit on a couch, and try to relax I am persuaded in my head to only think of work. The actual job, life chores, and the structures of my life; all my work insistently chatters at my thoughts. The self-induced stress this can bring I am all too familiar with, but it’s not until I step outside and take a breath, do I feel the sudden relaxation that the natural world provides.Maybe it’s because I live in a rural county where National Forest outnumbers private property, and when I step outside it’s into a land not yet taken over by housing condominiums or lawn gnomes, but I believe there are many areas where Nature’s breath can still be heard. Of what remains of the public parks and designated wilderness, there is still space to feel the air of natural light, to reclaim your senses, and to be a part of this world you live in.The uneven rhythm of insects chirping and the underlying silence that stretches on for miles, the translucent ebb and flow of Nature’s song. As I take my breath in and fill my lungs, it engulfs me. The lack of noise and distractions, it filters my thoughts and puts me at ease. Everything around me is doing their part, the moon is rising and the snakes sliver to warmth, the temperature is dropping and the creek is flowing, and I am sitting right where I am at, in the middle of it all. It’s a small comfort, but the five minutes sitting outside to catch my breath goes a long way amidst a hectic day.Go outside, catch your breath, and play-Brad
For half a century or so, roustabouts traveled the Mississippi River on steamboats, loading and moving cargo from port to port. These laborers, who hailed from the many states along the river, created a soundtrack for steamboat life. This collection of songs, but for the efforts of a group of interested musicologists, was all but lost until just recently.Nathan Blake Lynn, who I first met as a member of Bawn in the Mash and later profiled here in this magazine when he set out on a solo career, grew up in the river bottoms and has long been interested in Mississippi River life. Recently, he put together a new musical project with a couple friends from Bawn called The Wheelhouse Rousters and, after discovering these tunes, set about recording the songs the steamboat roustabouts sang as they plied their trade up and down the river.I recently caught up with Nathan to chat about river life, Mark Twain, and musicology.BRO – Why a record of steamboat songs?NBL – Steamboats are the floating castles of my dreams, and we sing songs of the long forgotten boats. These songs are some of the last unpopularized American folk songs that I am aware of, and they are closely related to Paducah, Kentucky, and the Ohio River Valley, two places I have a major interest in. Mary Wheeler, a Paducah native and musicologist, collected these songs from former roustabouts who were still living in Western Kentucky during the 1930s. I took interest in the songs after working in the archives in the McCracken County Public Library, where Wheeler’s collection is stored, and because I spent time growing up on the rivers with my father. The Wheelhouse Rousters really believed the songs needed to be heard, so Josh, Eddie, and I took them and arranged them as our own.BRO – Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer?NBL – Huck Finn? Mainly because it was the first book that I read as a child that I had to read multiple times. But my early life represents Tom more. It’s amazing how both characters still appeal to readers in the modern era. They both captivated me as a child growing up in the river bottoms. I’m also fond of Paducah author Irvin S. Cobb’s character Judge Priest. He appears in many of Cobb’s stories and reminds me of an older Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer.BRO – We are featuring “Po Shine” on this month’s Trail Mix. What can you tell us about the history of the song?NBL – “Po Shine” is about a former roustabout who was often overworked and underpaid. Josh does a great job singing that song and it’s one of my favorites. It’s an age old story, with the character saying, “You can’t do me like you done Po Shine,” or “Hey, Boss! I ain’t workin’ for free!”BRO – You are a member of the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Tell us about your work with the group.NBL – This is my third year with the commission, which began in 1976 and has awarded over $1,000,000 in oral history grants to individuals, colleges, universities, and community organizations, resulting in the collection of more than 35,000 interviews now located in repositories throughout Kentucky. I’m honored to sit on the board and to be a part of this group that cares so much about the preservation of Kentucky’s heritage. It is something I am very passionate about.BRO – When the rivers call to you, what do they say?NBL – The rivers are the veins running through the heart of our great nation. They are also the nexus for American music. At the confluences of the great rivers, delta blues and jazz flow into Appalachian old time and bluegrass. So the rivers are romantic and dangerous, unknown and recognizable, adventurous and homely. They are always moving and they are always singing. See you down stream.The Wheelhouse Rousters will be performing at the Centennial Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 16th and 17th and at the Princeton Art Guild Concert Series in Princeton, Kentucky, on October 25th.For more information on the band, tour dates, and the new record, surf over to www.wheelhouserousters.com.
There’s one big thing I’ve learned from all the kayaking trips I’ve been on: the post-paddle social hour may be just as fun as the rapids themselves. Come see what I mean this Saturday, January 10, at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond for the Boats and Brews Film Festival.Thanks to all the hard work of Coastals Paddling Club, the Film Festival has become an annual staple for Virginia paddlers. Only the best films could convince these river rats to gather on dry land, so there’s no doubt that the night will be a winner. Coastals is kicking it up a notch this year by partnering with Hardywood Brewery to add some delicious local beer to the mix. Boats and brews – an alliteration for the ages.The fantastic set of films that Coastals has chosen are set to hit the screen at 7 PM that evening, but show up early to enjoy Hardywood drinks, food courtesy of Richmond’s best food trucks, music from the Nobile Brothers, and boating exhibitors like Appomattox River Co., Riverside Outfitters, and the James River Outdoors Coalition. Word on the street is that some of these groups may even be giving out door prizes… as if you needed more incentive!All proceeds from the event will benefit the James River Outdoors Coalition. Plus, an additional throw-rope competition during the festival will help out the development of Charlottesville’s new Rivanna Whitewater Park!This is the perfect time to make new friends for all those spring river trips you know you’re dying to take, or to see what your water buddies look like in real clothes. Join your fellow paddlers at the Boats and Brews Film Festival to kick back with good drinks, great films, and even better people.
The Caballo Blanco 50 Mile Ultramarathon—made famous by Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run—was cancelled yesterday due to drug-related violence in the area.Hundreds of runners from around the world had traveled to the remote Copper Canyons of Mexico to run the race alongside the indigenous Tarahumara, who regularly run long distances wearing only primitive sandals. The evening before the race, officials announced the race would not be taking place.Reports from runners and Mexican authorities indicate that a municipal police officer was kidnapped and two people were executed outside of Urique, a small town where the race is headquartered. Drug cartels have become increasingly violent in the canyons of Mexico. Shootings and drug-related gunfire plagued the town of Urique for several days in December, and already Mexico is reeling from the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students by corrupt police in partnership with a drug mafia last September.Most runners were evacuated, but approximately 100 runners decided to stay and run part of the race anyway on Sunday, covering between 18 and 25 miles. Several were attacked by bees during the run and had to be treated by medics.Caballo Blanco – also known as Micah True – founded the race in 2003 to help celebrate the Tarahumara running culture. For years, the race has provided sacks of corn to every Tarahumara finisher and prize money to the top runners, who were often Tarahumara. Caballo Blanco died two years ago, but the race has lived on and continued to feed and benefit the Tarahumara. This weekend’s tragedy will ultimately mean empty bellies and more hunger for Tarahumara living in the canyons.Read about Harlan’s experience with the Tarahumara in the March 2012 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors.
May 23rd: Appalachian Trail Hike and Trail Magic: Nellysford, Va.– Join the crew from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and Blue Ridge Mountain Sports on a two-hour, out-and-back hike along the Appalachian Trail. We’ll meet at the Reed’s Gap parking lot at 9 a.m. and return by 11 a.m. to whip up some lunch for hungry thru-hikers passing by. Continue the party afterwards and help the magazine celebrate its 20th anniversary in Charlottesville at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion for a live performance by Old Crow Medicine Show and The Devil Makes Three. My dad calls it “the force of the world.” It’s that feeling of reassurance you get from the kindness of strangers, or from a bad-day-turned-good. It’s the sense that you’re not alone out there, that this vast planet is actually smaller, more familiar, than we lend ourselves to believe, that the path on which you tread is neither right nor wrong but your creation alone.The force of the world. Or, as I’ve come to know it, the power of random, of chance and coincidence and fate all colliding together in a cosmic-like encounter.I’ve felt this force of the world, the power of random, many times over the now year-plus I’ve spent living on the road. At Beech Mountain this past winter, I sat down on the ski lift next to a chiropractor based out of Boone. After a few minutes of small-talk, we realized we knew each other from Trail Days in Damascus, Va. He’d met me when I first hit the road and, knowing very well what the realities of road life would mean for my back, had given me his contact information should I ever need an adjustment. I spent the majority of the fall and winter clutching my lower back, cursing my poor organizational skills as I dug through the Jeep in search of his business card. I never found it, but I didn’t need to. He found me.Just a few weeks later, I was chasing snow in the High Country outside of Boone and decided to make a pit stop at Moses Cone Memorial Park. I had limited time, no knowledge of the area, no map to guide the way, no sidekick to get lost with. Yet as soon as I arrived, a middle-aged woman on a pair of waxable cross-country skis glided over to my car. She was a local and an avid uphill skier. In a matter of minutes, I had a hand-drawn map and directions for a two-hour tour de Moses Cone. I might have figured it out on my own, might have gotten turned around or been forced to backtrack. But I didn’t need to.It’s moments like these that, for better or worse, never really convince me to plan ahead and prepare. After all, as the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote, “a good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” So why not wing it, why not continue to fly by the seat of my pants if it’s worked out thus far? Sure, uncertainty can be a little uncomfortable at times, but it can also be liberating.This weekend at Cheat River Fest in Albright, W.Va. (see images below from festival), I “hosted” the first of many meet-ups-to-come. I use the term “hosted” in a very loose sense, as it was my first time downriver and the people I paddled with, and the river itself, were really the ones hosting me. The logistics of the meet-up hardly went according to whatever plan I had tried to concoct in the weeks leading up to the event, but, as fate or chance or the force of the world would have it, everything worked itself out in due time (thank you to Laura and co.!). In part, that’s what I love about the meet-ups. They’ve taught me the difference between “planning” and “plans.” While planning is important, the ability to ditch those plans is essential. Because really, when does anything in life go according to plan?So let’s ditch those plans together. Let’s fly by the seat of our pants and let the force of the world take the reins. I’ll be “hosting” a few more meet-ups in the month of May and would love for you to join me. So check your schedule and mark your calendars! May 7th: Patagonia Worn Wear Tour: Fayetteville, W.Va.– See Water Stone Outdoor’s website for more details on the day’s festivities. I’ll be hanging out in the Waterstonia parking lot bringing hacky back. But join me later at the American Alpine Club Campground just over the New River Gorge Bridge around 5 p.m. for a slackline contest with prizes from ENO, LifeStraw, and Farm To Feet.
World insect populations plummeting at an alarming rate “If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have a catastrophic consequence for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, co-author of the review, told The Guardian. Researchers fed satellite measurements of reflected light into a computer model and then correlated it to the number and type of ocean organisms. When they used the model to raise the global temperature by 3 degrees, they saw a very clear shift in ocean color with the blues getting bluer and the greens getting greener. A new study from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that more than half of the world’s oceans will change color by the year 2100, due to changes in the types and location of phytoplankton. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, reptiles or birds. According to the best data available, the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 percent each year, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The analysis says that intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, specifically the heavy use of pesticides. Oceans are changing color because of climate change Phytoplankton are microscopic algae at the bottom of the ocean food web and are a key part of most ocean ecosystems. They also store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce about half of the oxygen we breathe. Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, but the first global review of insect populations published in the journal of Biological Conservation has found that more than 40 percent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. Phytoplankton absorb and reflect various wavelengths of sunlight, which appear as different colors. Oceans with a lot of algae appear greenish, while areas with fewer phytoplankton appear a deeper blue. While those changes may seem inconsequential, researchers point out that it’s one more sign of how people are altering the earth in a major way.
2-night stay At the Western Front Hotel in Downtown St. Paul, VA+ 4-Hour Polaris Razor Rental on Spearhead Trails Mountain View System+ 3.5-Hour Kayaking Trip with Clinch River Adventures+ Discounted Dinners at Locally Owned Breweries and Restaurants 2-night stay In a 2-Bedroom Condo at Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, VA+ River Trip with Massanutten Adventures+ Harrisonburg Downtown Dollars Gift Certificate PLUS!Gregory Quadro Quadcase Roller 22″ (MSRP $169.95) This contest is over. Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on July 30, 2019 – date subject to change. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mis-transcribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before July 30, 2019 – date and time subject to change. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received. One entry per person or two entries per person if partnership opt-in box above is checked.
He has served as chairman of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club and helped found and/or lead a mile-long list of other environmental organizations. He has received the chapter’s highest honor for long and outstanding service, the Joseph LeConte Award, and has been inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his contributions to the state of North Carolina. The ancient crash of tectonic plates that created the Appalachian Mountains pushed up the Blue Wall on the southeast edge of the mountains and formed the bones of the lake’s basin and the maze of gorges above it. The 2000-foot wall catches moisture from clouds drifting up from the Gulf of Mexico, creating an annual average of 91 inches of rain (and a whopping 136 inches in 2018) that feeds four landmark rivers, the Thompson, Toxaway, Horsepasture and Whitewater. Their destination-worthy cascades include Whitewater, Rainbow, Turtleback and Windy falls. Lead photo by Brenda J. Wiley 91-year-old Bill Thomas strolls through Gorges State Park, which he helped to permanently protect 20 years ago. And after some prodding, Thomas acknowledged the consensus of people who know the history of this property — that he, maybe more than any single person, led it away from the first fate and toward the second. “That was a high bar,” Diggins said. “The state did not have a history of land acquisition for state parks or natural conservation.” “He represents the best of what one tireless, committed individual can accomplish to preserve and protect outstanding land and water resources for the benefit of the natural world and the public,” Diggins said. “I do think, well, I’ve done one good thing in my life,” he said. The celebration of the park’s 20th anniversary at the annual Gorgeous Gorges Colors event this coming October is the perfect time to celebrate Thomas’ legacy. But do more than lift a glass to Thomas, said Molly Diggins, Sierra’s longtime state director. View him as proof that one individual can make a huge difference for the environment. Hold him up as an inspiration and follow his example. How Gorges Became a Park In fact, Thomas, 91, a retired chemical engineer, made an unpaid, late-life career of doing good things for the environment, applying his passion for the outdoors and brilliant, Princeton-trained intellect to a series of causes, including the blocking of a luxury subdivision planned for the heart of DuPont State Recreational Forest. To appreciate what Thomas did for Gorges State Park, think of it not as a stand-alone property but as part of the larger Lake Jocassee watershed. Also known as Jocassee Gorges, it is a freak of climatological and geologic nature that extends across the North Carolina-South Carolina line southwest of Asheville and has been named by National Geographic as one of fifty “World’s Last Great Places.” “I think the biggest high I ever had in my life was when the Horsepasture got protected,” he said. “Bill is more intellectually engaged on a wider variety of subjects than anyone I’ve ever met,” said his old friend and neighbor, Gus Napier. “He’s interested in everything!” Duke Energy, which owned about 60,000 acres in the region, had penciled in plans for several pump storage plants—designed to produce surges of electricity—on the Jocassee Gorges’ creeks and rivers. But the first active threat to the Jocassee Gorges came on one of the few large tracts in the basin that Duke didn’t own, 923 acres along the Horsepasture controlled by a company called Carrasan. It announced its plans to build a hydroelectric plant on the river in a tiny legal ad that ran in Brevard’s Transylvania Times newspaper on March 5, 1984. This caught the eye of the ever-attentive Thomas, which is one place to mark the start of his activism. His commitment to the park continued long after its formation. Thomas has been a member of park’s advisory committee since its founding. He long pushed for a Friends of Gorges State Park and served on it for several years after its creation nearly a decade ago. He thought about what it has been instead for the past 20 years—a safely preserved wonderland of deep ravines, plunging rivers and rare plants. Dressed in khakis and well broken-in leather hiking boots, he handled a short hike to Bearwallow Creek with ease, bushwhacking through briars and up and down muddy embankments. Wilcox commented on this, Thomas’ fitness, but his words could also apply to Thomas’ work for the natural world, the example he has set for younger environmentalists. Thomas knows his generation of activists is passing. He has dialed back on some of his commitments. He and Shirl are no longer the super-fit, avid hikers that smile from the banks of the Horsepasture in the photos of Dam it. Thomas lamented in an email that he could provide only a short list of contacts for former FROTH members. “All the others are gone.” “Bill was the superstar,” Leonard said. “Bill was very key to leading the charge and building public support.” He and Shirl, he said, were too naive to know that such environmental crusades typically advance at glacial speed. This one moved like an avalanche. With a few early allies, they formed a group called Friends of the Horsepasture River, “which we realized later could form a neat acronym, FROTH,” Bill Thomas wrote in a 2015 book he published on the effort, Dam it, No!! Powerful supporters quickly jumped on board, including Mike Leonard, then a young lawyer and now the chairman of the nationwide Land Conservation Fund. And a mere 2 ½ years after the founding of FROTH, it achieved its ultimate goal — federal designation of the Horsepasture as a Wild and Scenic River, signed into law in October 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. 20 years ago, Gorges became a state park instead of a hydroelectric dam, thanks to the efforts of one inspiring leader. Today, it’s still one of the most beautiful and best-kept secrets in Southern Appalachia. But he has been blessed with health that others might seem as a karmic reward for his good work but that he views as merely a pleasant mystery. He and Shirl still walk nearly every day in the community of tree huggers near Brevard where they settled in 1998. He still works on its trail-building crew. He still organizes its nature programs and sends out email blasts alerting residents to sightings of black bears and hummingbirds. When his friends describe his mental sharpness, they are not grading on the usual nonagenarian curve. The Wall also catches windblown spores from ferns and mosses. At least that’s one theory for the variety of rare and endangered species that can be found here and nowhere else on Earth. The endangered Oconee Bell wildflower, almost unknown in the wild outside of this watershed, grows abundantly within it. He also stuck to it through the process of acquiring and protecting the watershed — including more than 7,000 acres that became Gorges State Park — even though it proceeded at the more typical pace of environmental action. Very slowly. He retired from DuPont in 1989 to start a stint as statewide Sierra Club chairperson. He traveled to Washington D.C. to persuade federal lawmakers to acquire key portions of the old Carrasan property, now part of the Nantahala National Forest. He fought to block a powerline that ended up being built through the park. “We got our heads beat down on that one,” he said. And after Duke let it be known it was willing to sell its land in the mid 1990s, Thomas was Sierra’s point person on the creation of the park, putting him in the thick of the negotiations with hunters who at one point threatened to withdraw support for the acquisition. He played a crucial role in “elevating this issue among Sierra members,” said Diggins, which gave her the backing to lobby state lawmakers. And he did a fair amount of lobbying himself, seeking not only that the land be purchased but that most of it be designated as a state park. There’s an old saying that activists are divided among tree shakers— the inspirational, visionary types, and jelly makers—who do the sustained, detailed work. Thomas is both. “I’d put him on top of the list of (volunteers) making the park happen and making it work,” said Superintendent Pagano. “Bill, you’re my hero,” Wilcox said. “I want to be you when I grow up.” One of his lobbying tools was a Jocassee Gorges hiking guide that Steve Pagano, park superintendent during its first 19 years, said might still be the best one published. Its maps and photos were supplemented with detailed passages on history, ecology and geology. No matter what issue he took on, Diggins said, he seemed to know every ecological asset, every threat, every political and bureaucratic key that needed turning. But his awakening actually began a few years earlier when he met his second wife, Shirl, who also deserves a Gorges anniversary toast. At the time, Bill Thomas was working at the DuPont plant near Brevard. He was a lifelong birder and hiker, but also a lifelong Republican, a Sierra Club member uncomfortable with its advocacy. “After meeting Shirl,” he said, “I got retreaded.” Bill Thomas, taking in the views at Gorges State Park, thought about what this land could have been— a vast zone of hydroelectric projects, its famous waterfalls funneled through pipes, its wild rivers cooped up in basins designed to flush like toilets to produce surges of power. I observed firsthand his acuity and passion for nature, on a trip to the Gorges with Thomas and park ranger Neal Wilcox. As we drove deep into the backcountry in a four-wheel drive pickup, Thomas let out spontaneous exclamations of enthusiasm. “Fantastic!” is a Thomas favorite. He explained how geology and erosion had created the vertiginous slopes of the gorges that Wilcox navigated. He identified the species of each bird that called and of the ground-hugging halberd violets and midstory silverbell trees. Once they saw the ad that threatened one of their favorite hiking spots, they set about researching the environment of the Jocassee Gorges and the approval process for Carrasan’s project. Meetings and phone calls consumed their evenings. Bill Thomas put the Xerox machine in his DuPont office into overdrive pumping out promotional literature. Though the ecological and recreational value of these gorges seems obvious now, it was once appreciated only by a few intrepid scientists and hikers. In the 1980s, its potential was all about hydroelectric power.
Authorities in the Dominican Republic seized a record 7,530 kilograms of cocaine in 2012, breaking the previous record of 6,715 kilos set the year before, according to the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control [Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas, or DNCD]. The most recent seizure was on Dec. 22, when the DNCD confiscated 1,190 kilos of cocaine and seven packets of heroin, arresting seven suspects. Operation Lightning, involving both the drug agency, the Dominican Armed Forces and the U.S. Coast Guard, was launched after U.S. officials alerted their Dominican counterparts to suspicious craft 10 miles off San Luís Beach in the province of Pedernales. The ship’s cargo included numerous capsules of heroin ready to be ingested by “mules” for transshipment to other countries, said a DNCD spokesman. Analysts attributed the increasing confiscations to pressure put on traffickers who had previously smuggled drugs across Mexico’s border with the United States to get their products to end users. Dominican police authorities along with the U.S. Coast Guard seized 1,500 kilos of cocaine and arrested four Venezuelans aboard a 40-foot speedboat near the Dominican resort town of Juan Dolio in March. The speedboat was on its way from Colombia to the Dominican Republic, where the drugs were to be transshipped to the United States and Europe. And in May, three high-ranking DNCD police officials were arrested and accused of providing security for drug traffickers. Authorities also arrested four men allegedly waiting for a drug shipment bound for Puerto Rico, said DNCD chief Rolando Rosado Mateo. DNCD nabs cocaine on its way to France In August, the DNCD seized 770 kilos of cocaine that traffickers allegedly intended to ship to the Dutch port of Rotterdam. Though no one was arrested, officials were able to gather intelligence that led to the Oct. 21 arrest of eight suspects after a dramatic shootout with assailants traveling in two vehicles near Santo Domingo. Police confiscated 770 one-kilo packets of cocaine from the vehicles and 106 cocaine packets in 10 subsequent raids of houses in the Santo Domingo metropolitan area for a total of 950 kilos of the white powder. On Sep. 2, DNCD agents discovered 778 kilos of cocaine in a shipping container in the port of Boca Chica east of Santo Domingo. Four suspects were detained. Two days later, Dominican and U.S. drug enforcement officials — in an action known as Operation Safe Coast — seized 1,600 kilos of cocaine after the bales were thrown overboard from a speedboat 50 nautical miles south of Saona Island. The speedboat crew fled and escaped capture. Less than 24 hours after that, the DNCD arrested three suspected traffickers including U.S. citizen Robert Bruce Adams and two Dominicans, Juan Carlos López and Tirso Bisono. Officials confiscated 120 kilos of cocaine aboard a boat apparently heading for Great Inagua, Bahamas. On Oct. 7, the DNCD seized 336 kilos of cocaine that were to be sent to Le Havre, France, via the Caucedo Multimodal Port, camouflaged as medical equipment. Rosado Mateo said the drugs were packed into nine suitcases found in a container at the marine terminal of La Romana. Airline owner arrested for drug smuggling Also in October, the DNCD broke up a criminal ring allegedly working for the Mexican Gulf cartel, arresting 15 people including Army Lt. Col. Juan Ramón Rosado Pérez, three other Dominican military and police officials and the prominent president of a local airline. Those arrested, including Dominicans, Jamaicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Americans and Bahamians, allegedly brought aircraft into the Dominican Republic to modify them to fly longer distances and carry more illicit cargo from South America, principally Venezuela, to such countries as Honduras and Haiti where they would be transshipped to the United States or Europe. Rafael Rosado, president of the small airline CaribAir, was arrested and named by officials as the ringleader. A CaribAir plane that crashed Sep. 27 near Constanza was allegedly part of the operation. Authorities seized an estimated $250 million worth of assets as evidence. The DNCD and the U.S. Coast Guard teamed up again Dec. 10 to intercept 10 parcels of cocaine from a boat off the southeastern coast, arresting a Colombian citizen at the scene. DNCD officials arrested José Calderón Rijo, alias “La Araña” — a Dominican citizen who posed as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry — and two other suspects of unknown nationality. By Dialogo December 28, 2012