- - Monday, June 11, 2012


MEXICO CITY — Federal police in Mexico said they have captured four top operators of a drug gang that operates in the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco.

One of the suspects is a woman.

The gang has been fighting the local Independent Cartel of Acapulco for control of the port city since the 2010 arrest of suspected drug capo Edgar Valdez Villareal, a Texas-born man known as “La Barbie.”

The new group is known as the “Sweeper” gang or the “Devil’s Commando.”

Federal police said Monday the suspects included one man nicknamed “Santa,” who was allegedly the gang’s financial administrator.

Other suspects allegedly carried out killings, kidnappings, drug sales and extortion.


Chavez opponent kicks off campaign

CARACAS — Opposition leader Henrique Capriles marched through Venezuela’s capital over the weekend accompanied by tens of thousands of supporters in a rally to formally launch his candidacy for the presidency.

Surrounded by supporters waving red, yellow and blue Venezuelans flags, Mr. Capriles marched and jogged from a park in eastern Caracas toward the headquarters of the National Elections Council, six miles away, where he formally registered to challenge President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Capriles has vowed to boost employment, fight crime and root out corruption, though most polls show him trailing Mr. Chavez ahead of the Oct. 7 election.

Mr. Chavez, a Socialist who is seeking a new six-year term, has accused his rival of representing the interests of the wealthy.


Searchers find bodies from helicopter crash

OCONGATE — Searchers have found the bodies of 13 of the 14 people who died in a helicopter crash high in the snowy Andes.

Police chief Raul Salazar told the Radioprogramas station on Sunday that the bodies were being taken to Ocongate, the nearest town to the accident, and they have not yet been identified.

The Sikorsky S-58ET helicopter was carrying eight South Koreans and three Peruvians as well as citizens of the Netherlands, Sweden and the Czech Republic when it crashed Wednesday on Mama Rosa mountain at an altitude of about 16,000 feet.

Eighteen South Korean relatives of those aboard the helicopter are flying to Peru to recover the remains, said South Korean Consul Hwangroh Lee, who went to Cusco, the city from which the helicopter flight originated, to aid in the search effort.


Morales’ popularity sinks in latest opinion poll

LA PAZ — President Evo Morales saw his popularity sink to a new low of 33 percent in a poll released this week, about half his standing when he began his second term in January 2010.

Although low, the support would be enough for Mr. Morales to win another term if an election were held today, said El Deber newspaper, which relied on May 15-25 data from private pollster Ipsos.

The poll puts Mr. Morales ahead of his main potential contenders: center-right opposition leader Samuel Doria Medina, who received 14 percent; and Juan del Granado, a human rights lawyer who got 13 percent.

Former president Carlos Mesa, who has not expressed his intention to run, only picked up eight percent.

The country’s first-ever native Indian president, Mr. Morales is hoping to win a third term in December 2014 elections.

In 2006, he was elected with 54 percent of the vote. He was re-elected four years later with 64 percent, enjoying support from the working classes and indigenous populations.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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