- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

MEXICO

Drug cartel suspects captured in Tijuana

MEXICO CITY — Two top members of a major Mexican drug cartel, among the most-wanted suspects on both sides of the border, have been captured, Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha announced yesterday.

The U.S. Justice Department had offered rewards of $2 million each for the capture of Jorge Aureliano Felix and Efrain Perez Pazuengo, who were arrested last week in the La Mesa area of Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr. Macedo said the two were the top operatives of the Arellano Felix cartel, which the Justice Department called “one of the most notorious multinational drug-trafficking organizations ever.” It dominated Mexico’s drug trafficking in the late 1990s and developed a reputation as the most bloodthirsty of the country’s smuggling groups.

PERU

Government rejects mining royalties

LIMA —The Toledo administration will hold back from signing into law a tax bill passed last week that would charge mining companies a royalty on sales and will recommend changes in the legislation, Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said this weekend.

Congress approved the bill Thursday to generate more tax income from mining, Peru’s richest sector, representing half the country’s exports. Peru is the world’s No. 3 miner of zinc, No. 5 of copper and No. 6 of gold.

But a major mining company said that if a royalty is signed into law by President Alejandro Toledo, Peru will lose out on investment because the high tax burden will make mining much less profitable.

The government, eager to maintain the sector’s dynamism, had proposed an early income-tax payment by miners instead of a royalty, but that proposal never gathered support in Congress.

NICARAGUA

Jailed ex-president sent to felons’ wing

MANAGUA — Former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman, serving a 20-year prison term for embezzlement and corruption, has been moved to a prison block where murderers, rapists and other hardened criminals are held.

Aleman, 57, had occupied an air-conditioned office in the prison’s administrative wing, where he received unrestricted visits and three meals a day. National Prison System director Oscar Sobalvarro told Agence France-Presse on Friday that Aleman, president from 1997 to 2002, was transferred for “security reasons” late Thursday and now shares a cell with three elderly inmates who “pose no threat to his life.”

The lack of air conditioning, however, “puts his health at risk because he suffers from high blood pressure,” said Aleman’s attorney, Mauricio Martinez. Aleman’s personal fortune grew from an estimated $50,000 in 1989 to about $250 million in 2001, according to members of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, which he led.

Weekly notes

Former Paraguayan Gen. Lino Oviedo, who is living in Brazil, is expected to return home later this month to face criminal charges. ABC Color newspaper reported yesterday that Gen. Oviedo is scheduled to return to Asuncion, where judges want to discuss the role he is accused of playing in the 1999 assassination of Vice President Luis Maria Argana. … A car bomb exploded yesterday near a police station and a church in Medellin, Colombia’s No. 2 city, injuring at least eight persons. Police were investigating the blast, which resembled past attacks by guerrillas and drug cartels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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