- - Monday, March 12, 2012

MEXICO CITY — Much like the late Osama bin Laden, the man the U.S. calls the world’s most powerful drug lord apparently has been hiding in plain sight.

Mexican federal police nearly nabbed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in a coastal mansion in Los Cabos three weeks ago, barely a day after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with dozens of other foreign ministers in the same southern Baja peninsula resort town.

Jose Cuitlahuac Salinas, Mexico’s assistant attorney general in charge of organized crime investigations, confirmed Sunday that there was a near miss late last month in the government’s efforts to arrest the man who has become one of the world’s top fugitives since he escaped prison in a laundry truck in 2001.

“We know he was there,” Mr. Salinas told the Associated Press.

The incident fuels growing speculation that authorities are closing in on Mr. Guzman and that the government of President Felipe Calderon is determined to grab him before Mr. Calderon’s six-year term ends in December.


Canadian murder suspect arrested in Panama

PANAMA CITY — Police in Panama said they captured a fugitive with suspected ties to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang who is wanted in Canada for 22 murders.

A police statement said Michel Smith was detained Friday in the Playa Coronado tourist region, 62 miles west of Panama City.

The statement released Sunday said Mr. Smith was captured after a two-month surveillance operation and that he is wanted in Canada on 29 charges, including 22 counts of murder.

Canadian police have been looking for Mr. Smith since a massive 2009 gang sweep in Quebec province.

Panamanian police said they are coordinating his extradition to Canada.


Chavez to return from Cuba this week

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that he plans to return home this week from Cuba and has been recovering smoothly after undergoing cancer surgery.

Mr. Chavez spoke on television from Havana, accompanied by many of his Cabinet ministers in a prerecorded appearance that resembled his regular Sunday television and radio program.

Mr. Chavez has said his Feb. 26 surgery in Cuba removed a malignant tumor measuring about 0.8 inches from the same location in the pelvic region where another tumor was extracted in June. He has declined to identify the precise location or type of cancer.


Police detain 22 in lottery-scam probe

KINGSTON — Police in Jamaica have detained nearly two dozen people they allege are involved in a multimillion-dollar lottery scam.

Investigators arrested 22 people after raiding eight homes in the northwestern parish of St. James, which includes the resort city of Montego Bay. Many of Jamaica’s proliferating lottery scams are based in St. James.

Police said in a statement Sunday that the suspects were being questioned and had not been charged. They also seized $800,000, several computers and 16 cars.


Prosecutors look into dictatorship murders

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian newspaper reported that federal prosecutors are investigating cases of forced disappearances during the country’s 20-year military dictatorship.

In a report Sunday, prosecutors told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that cases involving kidnappings and hiding of bodies may fall outside the amnesty law that released civilians and military from liability for political crimes.

They argue that cases in which a missing person is never found are “permanent crimes” falling outside the 1961-79 period covered by the law.

On Friday, prosecutors heard witnesses about the disappearance of Edgard Duarte, seen for the last time in a police cell in 1973. He is one of 156 disappeared.


Found remains are from ancient cemetery

SAN CRISTOBAL &mdashl A representative of Mexico’s main anthropology agency said the remains of 167 people found in a cave in the country’s south were part of a pre-Hispanic cemetery dating back some 1,300 years.

The Chiapas state prosecutor’s office said authorities found the remains on Friday on the Nuevo Ojo de Agua ranch in a region Central American migrants pass through while heading north.

Local farmers first came across the cave last week and alerted authorities.

Emilio Gallaga of the national anthropology institute said the first test results show the remains come from a still-unspecified pre-Hispanic community dating to the eighth century.

He said clay artwork that could have come from a pre-Hispanic group also was found in the cave.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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