- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CHILE

Strong quake rattles central coast

SANTIAGO | A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck of Chile’s central coast Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The USGS said the quake’s epicenter was 94 miles south-southwest of Concepcion, Chile, at a depth of 12 miles.

Radio stations in the Bio-Bio region reported no major damages or injuries from the tremor.

The area has been shaken by hundreds of smaller quakes since a huge magnitude-8.8 quake hit on Feb. 27, triggering a tsunami and killing 486 people.

On Sunday, a 5.9-magnitude quake struck the area, one of more than a dozen perceptible temblors since Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Chileans are still living in tents or temporary huts.

MEXICO

U.S., Mexico mull joint oil cleanup

MEXICO CITY | Mexico is closely monitoring the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and will evaluate possible joint cooperation with the United States in the event of ecosystem damage, the environment ministry said Monday.

“Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada is in close contact with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, with whom he agreed this afternoon [Monday] to evaluate scenarios of bilateral cooperation in case of eventual damage to their joint ecosystem,” a statement said.

The ministry last week said that Mexico was not yet at risk from the giant oil slick in U.S. territorial waters but warned that the situation could change rapidly.

At least 210,000 gallons of crude per day are estimated to be streaming out from below an oil rig that sank April 22, more than 750 miles from Mexico’s coast.

ARGENTINA

Ex-dictator to face trial for killings

BUENOS AIRES | Former Argentine military dictator Jorge Videla will face trial for a series of kidnaps, torture and 40 killings, including that of a German citizen, justice officials said Monday.

The case was the latest in a series against Mr. Videla, who came to power in 1976 at the head of a military government blamed for the death or disappearances of an estimated 30,000 people.

The remains of most of the 40 victims were unearthed by forensic experts last year in Buenos Aires. Among them was Argentina-born German citizen Rolf Stawowiok, who was 20 at the time of his death in 1978.

Sources said many of the charges in the new case were linked to those remains that were identified.

BRAZIL

Weekend violence claims 11 lives

RIO DE JANEIRO | Clashes between police and drug traffickers left 11 people dead over the weekend in the slum districts near Rio’s international airport, police said Monday.

Exchanges of gunfire erupted Sunday during a police sweep aimed at breaking up a network of traffickers in drugs and stolen vehicles, according to police.

Police said the dead included a gang leader blamed for the death of a journalist in February 2009 in another shootout between security forces and drug traffickers.

Several suspects also were arrested in the sweep by more than 250 police, which netted 10 vehicles, two dozen motorcycles and a ton of marijuana.

More than 2 million people live in Rio’s poor hillside favelas, or about a third of the population of the city, which was chosen to host the Summer Olympics in 2016 and the football World Cup in 2014.

MEXICO

Soldiers seize bejeweled weapons

MEXICO CITY | Mexican soldiers have seized an arsenal of gold-plated, diamond-encrusted weapons believed to belong to the Valencia gang, allies of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, prosecutors said Monday.

Photos of the weapons show that most of the 31 pistols found in a raid on a home in western Mexico had gold or silver-plated grips or glittered with diamonds — apparently flamboyant examples of the sort of gaudily customized weapons favored by some drug gangsters.

Three of the assault rifles are almost entirely gold-plated.

Identification documents were found at the home on the outskirts of the western city of Guadalajara in the name of Oscar Nava Valencia.

The attorney general’s office said he is a leader of the Valencia gang who has worked with Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

On Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, the Mexican navy announced a big drug haul: It said a Mexican fishing boat and its five-member crew had been captured while transporting nearly 5,300 pounds of cocaine.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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