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Police are continuing their drug crackdown with the seizure Wednesday of 65 sacks containing nearly 2,677 kilos of marijuana, some 5,890 pounds.
This was the latest in a number of drug arrests and seizures in the last month, and comes on the heels of a big arrest Tuesday in which 14 persons including four policemen were nabbed.
Police encountered the 65 sacks under strange circumstances in La Poza del Abuelo in Coloradito de Paso Canoas, which is close to the Panama border on the Pacific Coast.
The police involved were from the Judicial Investigating Organization office in Ciudad Neilly. They said the drugs probably came in from Panama for transshipment to the United States and probably originated in Colombia.
Police also grabbed 935 grams of cocaine, a little more than two pounds.
The marijuana was in packets wrapped in plastic and sealed with adhesive tape, they said. Police agents plan to load the drugs on a truck this morning and bring the shipment into San José for a photo opportunity for the capital city press.
Police said they learned of the drugs when someone called the police offices about 6:30 a.m. and directed agents to the stash. They said they had no suspects. The police statement gave the impression that
|police just found the drugs in a
heap, although the seizure probably is the result of an informant's work.
The arrest of 14 persons took place in Cartago, according to the anti-drug police and the Fuerza Publica. They said they arrested three members of Fuerza Publica and a transit policeman among the band of drug suspects. The drug police have been investigating the group in Cartago for a year, they said.
Meanwhile, police said that the wife of a Belgian man arrested Tuesday as a suspected member of a European drug ring had died under suspicious circumstances. She was found floating nude in an inlet in Playa del Coco. Her name was not given, but police said she was an Italian citizen.
Police arrested the three Belgian citizens Tuesday morning in Santa Cruz and Playa del Coco, both in Guanacaste, and in San José. They said the three men were members in a drug ring that was involved in the trafficking of cocaine through Belgium, Spain, England and Morocco, and they used the proceeds to purchase tourism businesses here. The men were being held for extradition proceedings.
Although it has not been announced as such, the many drug arrests are Costa Rica's contribution to the worldwide effort against terrorism The Bush Administration already has linked terrorist with drug smuggling, noting that drugs frequently provide the funds for terrorists.
Only a few things in life are certain: death, taxes and that Roger Morris Crouse still is in jail in Liberia.
The Playa del Coco bar owner said Wednesday that he is as surprised as anyone that he has not been able to negotiate a release while his legal case goes forward.
Crouse, 50, a Canadian, shot and killed a man in his Gaby's Bar the evening of Aug. 19. The man came at him with a knife, Crouse told investigators. The man had been in the bar earlier creating a disturbance, and police took him away only to free him and let him return to the bar two hours later.
Now Crouse said he is afraid that officials will level a homicide charge against him. He is in the process of changing lawyers and said that some of his problem might be because of bad translations in his legal documents.
One document says that he was "behind the bar" when the incident happened, and some in the Costa Rican legal system interpret that as meaning he physically was outside the building that houses the bar when the incident happened, Crouse said. The document really means that Crouse was behind the bar structure on which drinks are served, he said.
A lawyer mentioned by Crouse said Wednesday that she is not officially involved in the case
|although she plans to visit him in
prison. Another lawyer still is listed as being in charge of Crouse's
case, she said.
Meanwhile, Crouse is having troubles of his own in the prison. He was out of contact with friends and associates for about two weeks because someone stole the booklet in which he kept telephone numbers. He can only make a few calls a day from the prison, and attempts to call in usually are greeted with busy signals.
A friend used the Internet to help reconstruct some of his telephone list.
The book is not the only item that was stolen.
"They have me on a clock now," Crouse said Wednesday of the thieves in prison. "Every Monday between 1 and 2 they rob me," he said. He has had items such as underclothes, cigarettes, a mirror and a book taken by sneak thieves.
His belongings are kept in a bag that is easily accessible to thieves.
At the same time, two burglary attempts have been made on his bar in Playa del Coco, he said with remarkable good humor.
Crouse said two weeks ago that papers had been prepared to put his bar up for security so he could leave the jail on bail. But that never happened, and he began looking for a new lawyer.
A huge fire was reported near Kabul's airport as U.S. forces pounded Taliban and suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan for the fourth straight night Wednesday.
Residents of the Afghan capital report multiple waves of attacks since nightfall. Thick clouds of smoke have been seen rising from the direction of the airport, north of the city. Reporters said that explosions could be heard west of Kabul, in areas where Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network is believed to have terrorist training camps.
The southern city of Kandahar — a stronghold of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban — has also come under fresh attack. Witnesses say the latest bombings may be the heaviest yet of the U.S.-led air campaign.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official says that strikes on Sunday, the first night of the U.S.-led air attacks, killed several Taliban leaders and two relatives of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. There has been no independent confirmation of the report.
In Washington, President George Bush unveiled a terrorism "most-wanted" list topped by accused terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Speaking at FBI headquarters in Washington Wednesday, Bush vowed to "shine the light of justice" on the 22 suspects named on the list.
They include two top bin Laden deputies — Egyptians Ayman al-Zawahri and Mohamed Atef — who have been indicted in connection with the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. Also listed are several members of the bin Laden al-Qaida network who have been implicated in earlier attacks on U.S. interests overseas. Pictures of
| the suspects, along with physical
descriptions, aliases and caution warnings, have been posted on the FBI's
global Web site www.fbi.gov.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says that since last month's attacks, 23 countries have arrested terrorist suspects. One-hundred-eleven countries are reported to have tightened banking laws to curb the flow of money to terrorists.
Another anthrax exposure
In Florida, U.S. federal officials say a third person has tested positive for exposure to the rare, deadly anthrax disease.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Hector Pesquera made the announcement in Boca Raton, Florida, where the first case of anthrax was discovered last week. He says this is not the time for quick conclusions, but a time for sound scientific investigation.
The Florida Secretary of Health John Agwunobi stresses that anthrax is not contagious. He says only one person, who died last week, actually had an anthrax infection. Another person has tested positive for anthrax exposure and is being treated with antibiotics. All three of the people infected with or exposed to anthrax worked in the same building in Boca Raton.
Acting U.S. Attorney General Guy Lewis says the search for the source of the anthrax bacterium is now being considered a criminal probe.
Wednesday, the U.S. State Department ordered U.S. embassies worldwide to stock up on an antibiotic used to treat anthrax infections.
Anthrax is not transmitted through personal contact. The bacterium enters the human body through inhalation, broken skin or by eating contaminated food.
WASHINGTON — Providing support for counternarcotics and other anti-crime efforts around the world is more important than ever, according to James Mack, deputy assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.
Testifying Wednesday before a U.S. House committee, Mack said that there "often is a nexus between terrorism and organized crime," adding: "Many of the skills and types of equipment needed to attack organized crime are applicable to combating terrorism." He further noted that "the same criminal gangs involved in narcotics smuggling have links to other criminal activities and to terrorist groups."
Mack said the Talibans profit from the opium poppy trade in Afghanistan.
In the Western Hemisphere, Mack noted that the Peruvian terrorist organization Shining Path carried out its murderous activities "largely funded by taxes on cocaine trafficking." He also observed that designated foreign terrorist groups in Colombia -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), National Liberation Army (ELN) and United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUS) -- "all benefit substantially from their deep involvement in drug trafficking."
Mack presented the Andean Regional Initiative as a mechanism to help combat criminal narcotics activity in that area, and then broadened his focus to emphasize that narcotics trafficking "both feeds and feeds upon" social and economic problems besetting the region.
"Sluggish economies produce political unrest that threatens democracy and provides ready manpower for narcotics traffickers and illegal armed groups," he said
"Weak democratic institutions, corruption and
|political instability discourage
investment, contribute to slow economic growth and provide
fertile ground for drug traffickers and other outlaw groups to flourish." said Mack.
"The drug trade has a corrupting influence that undermines democratic institutions, fuels illegal armed groups and distorts the economy, discouraging legitimate investment."
To underscore the gravity of the problem, he urged lawmakers "to keep in mind the situation in Colombia just a few years ago," pointing out that for several years Colombian drug lords nearly succeeded in bringing the legitimate government of Colombia "to its knees."
Mack said, the threat to U.S. national security of "a narco-trafficking
state used as a springboard for international terrorist groups" indicates
that "the Andean Regional Initiative continues to be critical."
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
WASHINGTON — While there is "clear and compelling evidence" that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks originated in Afghanistan, with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization, ... we must also recognize that the threats to our people and interests can come from any venue," says Ambassador Francis Taylor, coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State.
Testifying before Congress Wednesday, he said the Western Hemisphere "is no stranger to terrorism." And "although we in the United States have been, until recently, blessedly free of terrorist attacks by international groups, terrorism has been a fact of life in many Latin American countries such as Colombia and Peru for thirty years or more," he added.
The Alliance of Artists' Communities has come out with a strong statement against the Bush Administration and the war in Afghanistan.
Dr. William L. White, a member of the organization who runs an artists colony in Ciudad Colon, said Wednesday night that he joins in the sentiments expressed by the organization.
The organization's statement was written by Mark Alewitz of Central Connecticut State University, the group's artistic director. Speaking of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, Alewitz said " . . .the groundwork for this catastrophe was laid right in Washington, D.C."
The statement also says: "George Bush — who wallows in oil money — threatens
the people of the Middle-East. He blames the weak and defenseless — those
who have been driven to desperate poverty as they see their region's resources
flow to Wall Street, the military and their own wealthy elite. He
| the blood of American soldiers.
This is from a man whose wealthy father arranged for him to hide in cowardice
Alewitz said that artists have a special responsibility. "Those who wish to create a bloodbath are a small minority," he said. "The great majority of the earth's working people has demonstrated that they favor peace and solidarity. We can use our art to give expression to that vision."
Artists should use their talent to fight for peace and justice, the statement said.
White said Wednesday night that his is the only artist colony member of the group in Central and South America of the 100-plus members of the organization. He runs the Julia and David White Artists Colony, which is named after his two deceased children, who were artists. He forwarded the alliance's statement to A.M. Costa Rica.
The organization's Web site is http://www.artistcommunities.org
|Deaths of Colombian
may derail peace process
By A.M. Costa Rica wires services
Colombian officials say leftist guerrillas have murdered two police officers, a development that threatens to end the country's peace process.
Authorities said Wednesday the officers were slain by rebels with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Officials say the policemen were among six people kidnapped Sunday by the FARC in Colombia's southern Narino Department.
The government's human rights ombudsman, Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz, says the incident jeopardizes the peace negotiations between the government and rebels.
The kidnappings and murders come after the government and the FARC agreed to a nine-point accord that included immediate cease-fire talks. In the agreement the FARC also promised to end so-called "miracle fishing," in which rebels set up roadblocks and kidnap people who may bring a sizable ransom.
Officials had expressed hope Tuesday that the kidnappers were not aware of the accord and would free the six hostages once informed about the agreement. The incident also occurred days after President Andres Pastrana renewed for three months the demilitarized zone granted to the FARC in 1998 to promote peace talks.
The new U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, John Danilovich, was to present his credentials last night to President Miguel Angel Rodríguez at the Casa Presidential. The ceremony marks the official start of the ambassador's tenure here.
|Rabies cases cause
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Two deaths, that of a woman and a boy, in the southwestern part of Costa Rica have been blamed on rabies probably contracted from a cat, and the situation has galvanized the nation's health officials.
Some 12,000 doses of anti-rabies inoculations were being readied for use on domestic animals like dogs and cats that can transmit the disease, usually through a bite.
The dead are Jeffrey Hurtado, 9, and a woman who cared for him in the Golfito area. She was not identified fully. They died a day apart.
Internet connections shaky
Computer hookups were erratic Wednesday in parts of San José, but some commercial Internet cafes said they had no troubles. A.M. Costa Rica experienced problems connecting with servers here and in the United States, but a technician for Radiográfica Costarricense, S.A., the government Internet monopoly, said Wednesday night that there had been no troubles. A few minutes later the technician qualified himself and said that some server problems had developed in the United States but not in Costa Rica.
The problems began just about 9 a.m. when many officer workers were booting up their internet connections. The problem mitigated during the midday and reappeared in the evening.
A.M. Costa Rica made the decision to produce news pages without photography because photos consist of much more information than simple text. Therefore, photos can clog up Internet connections, particularly in Costa Rica where such connections are hard to maintain anyway.
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