- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

COLOMBIA
Navy, police search for kidnap victims
BOGOTA The Colombian navy and national police were searching for eight persons kidnapped during the Easter weekend by 20 gunmen who raided a small island off Colombia's Caribbean coast.
On Mucura island, about 300 miles northwest of here, kidnappers grabbed an 11-year-old boy and bodyguards of businessmen vacationing during the Easter holidays, navy Capt. Juan Manuel Lesnes said. The boy had been vacationing with his family. Marxist rebels abduct hundreds of people each year for ransom to fund their insurgencies.
Meanwhile, soldiers killed 16 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Sunday in eastern Antioquia state, the army said.

MEXICO
Acapulco pot growers shift to opium poppies
TLAPA DE COMONFORT Marijuana has long been the main illegal crop on Mexico's Pacific coast, but now growers are switching to a more deadly and profitable product: high-grade opium poppies used to make heroin.
Mexican growers are using superproductive hybrid poppies from Colombia, and traffickers also have adopted some of that country's more violent tactics. In recent weeks, suspected drug growers shot down two government fumigation helicopters in southern Guerrero state, killing all five crewmen aboard. While routine in Colombia, those were the first such deaths in Mexico.
In the cash-strapped mountain villages inland from Acapulco, farmers often look to illicit plants when prices drop for traditional crops such as coffee, corn and coconuts.

CANADA
Authorities pessimistic as SARS cases top 300
MONTREAL Canadian health officials, once hopeful they could quickly contain the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are increasingly pessimistic as the numbers of Canadians struck by the disease continues to rise.
Outside Asia, where SARS originated, Canada has been the country hardest hit by the atypical and deadly strain of pneumonia. As of Friday, 14 persons had died, and there were 304 persons feared to be suffering from the disease, 249 of them in the province of Ontario.
Canadian health officials said Sunday that travelers on a suburban commuter train might have been exposed to the deadly SARS virus through a nurse thought to be infected.

Weekly notes
Rescuers searched for three persons still missing after a tourist schooner capsized and sank Sunday off Cabo Frio, Brazil, 60 miles east of Rio de Janeiro, killing at least 12 persons. Naval authorities said the Tona Galea was carrying two crew members and 62 passengers, mostly Brazilians, on a day trip to Parrot Island when it sank. The bodies of 12 had been recovered. … Santiago Creel, Mexico's secretary of government, is to meet U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge tomorrow and Thursday as part of a working visit to the border areas of Tijuana and San Diego "to strengthen border security and cooperation, and promote the safe and efficient transit of people and goods."

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