Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Capture of Zetas leader unlikely to quell violence

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

(AP) ? The capture of the notoriously brutal Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales is a serious blow to Mexico's most feared drug cartel but experts cautioned that taking down the group's command structure is unlikely to diminish violence in the border states where it dominates through terror.

Trevino Morales, 40, was captured before dawn Monday by Mexican Marines who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash on a dirt road in the countryside outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo, which has long served as the Zetas' base of operations. The truck was halted by a Marine helicopter and Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard and an accountant and eight guns, government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told reporters.

It was the first major blow against an organized crime leader by a Mexican administration struggling to drive down persistently high levels of violence. Experts on the Zetas said that the arrest, at least the eighth capture or killing of a high-ranking Zeta since 2011, could leave behind a series of cells scattered across northern Mexico without a central command but with the same appetite for kidnapping, extortion and other crimes against innocent people.

"It's another link in the destruction of the Zetas as a coherent, identifiable organization," said Alejandro Hope, a former member of Mexico's domestic intelligence service. "There will still be people who call themselves Zetas, bands of individuals who maintain the same modus operandi. There will be fights over illegal networks."

The Zetas remain active in Nuevo Laredo, the nearby border state of Coahuila, the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, parts of north central Mexico and Central America, although Trevino Morales' arrest means the gang has become "a franchise operation not a vertical organization," said George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and professor of government at the College of William & Mary.

The Zetas leader and his alleged accomplices were flown to Mexico City, where they are expected to eventually be tried in a closed system that usually takes years to prosecute cases, particularly high-profile ones.

Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," is uniformly described as one of the two most powerful cartel heads in Mexico, the leader of a corps of special forces defectors who went to work for drug traffickers, splintered off into their own cartel in 2010 and metastasized across Mexico, expanding from drug dealing into extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Along the way, the Zetas authored some of the worst atrocities of Mexico's drug war, leaving hundreds of bodies beheaded on roadsides or hanging from bridges, earning a reputation as perhaps the most terrifying of the country's numerous ruthless cartels.

On Trevino Morales' watch, 72 Central and South American migrants were slaughtered by the Zetas in the northern town of San Fernando in 2010, authorities said. By the following year, federal officials announced finding 193 bodies buried in San Fernando, most belonging to migrants kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas for various reasons, including their refusal to work as drug mules.

Trevino Morales is charged with ordering the kidnapping and killing of the 265 migrants, along with numerous other charges of murder, torture and other crimes, Sanchez said.

President Enrique Pena Nieto came into office promising to drive down levels of homicide, extortion and kidnapping but has struggled to make a credible dent in crime figures. And his pledge to focus on citizen safety over other crimes has sparked worries among U.S. authorities that he would ease back on predecessor Felipe Calderon's U.S.-backed strategy aimed above all at decapitating drug cartels.

The arrest of Trevino, a man widely blamed for both massive northbound drug trafficking and the deaths of untold scores of Mexicans and Central American migrants, will almost certainly earn praise from Pena Nieto's U.S. and Mexican critics alike.

Trevino Morales' capture adds to the long list of Zetas' leaders who have been arrested or killed in recent years, including Zeta head Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, whose fatal shooting by authorities last year left Trevino Morales in charge.

The debilitation of the Zetas has been widely seen as strengthening the country's most-wanted man, Sinaloa cartel head Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who has overseen a vicious turf war with the Zetas from hideouts believed to lie in rugged western Mexico.

Trevino Morales is expected to be succeeded by his brother, Omar, a former low-ranking turf boss seen as far weaker than his older brother.

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown across the border from Laredo, Texas. He soon graduated from washing cars and running errands to running drugs across the border, and was recruited into the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel.

Trevino Morales' brother, sister and mother lived in Dallas but he had many relatives around Nuevo Laredo and, while moving frequently to avoid authorities, he was believed to often return to his hometown, the U.S. official said.

Trevino Morales joined the Zetas, a group of Mexican special forces deserters who defected to work as hit men and bodyguards for the Gulf cartel in the late 1990s.

Stories about the brutality of "El Cuarenta," or "40" as Trevino Morales became known, quickly became well-known among his men, his rivals and Nuevo Laredo citizens terrified of incurring his anger.

One technique favored by Trevino Morales was the "guiso," or stew, in which enemies would be placed in 55-gallon (208-liter) drums and burned alive, said a U.S. law-enforcement official in Mexico City, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. Others who crossed the Zeta commander would be beaten with wooden planks, the official said.

Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or "plaza," and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel's attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of Laredo.

In 2006, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas defeated the Sinaloa cartel in Nuevo Laredo, a victory that emboldened them as they began spreading south to towns and cities that had never before seen extensive organized crime. They set up criminal networks to control transit routes for drugs, migrants, extortion, kidnapping, contraband of pirated DVDs and CDs, and countless other criminal activities, intimidating local residents and committing gruesome murders as an example to the uncooperative.

According to the U.S. official, Trevino Morales was in charge of Nuevo Leon, Piedras Negras and other areas until March 2007, when he was sent to the city of Veracruz following the death of a leading Zeta in a gunbattle there.

That same year, Trevino Morales and Lazcano began pushing for independence from the Gulf cartel after cartel head Osielo Cardenas Guillen's extradition to the U.S.

The Zetas split from the Gulf cartel and by 2008 had operations in 28 major Mexican cities, according to an analysis by Grupo Savant, a Washington-based security think tank.

In February 2008, Lazcano sent Trevino Morales to Guatemala, where he was responsible for eliminating local competitors and establish the Zetas' control of smuggling routes. Trevino Morales was then named by Lazcano as national commander of the Zetas across Mexico despite his lack of military background, earning him the resentment of some of the original ex-military members of the Zetas, the official said.

The promotion involved Trevino Morales in virtually every decision by the Zetas, the official said.

Trevino Morales rose to the top of the Zetas last year after leader Lazcano died in a shootout with Mexican marines in Coahuila state.

Trevino Morales was indicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in New York in 2009 and Washington in 2010, and the U.S. government issued a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

According to the indictments, Trevino Morales coordinated the shipment of hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana each week from Mexico into the U.S., much of which had passed through Guatemala.


Follow Michael Weissenstein on Twitter at ?


Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report from Washington, D.C. Rodriguez and E. Eduardo Castillo contributed from Mexico City.

Associated Press


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Kama High Club for Odd Singles

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Kama High Club for Odd Singles

At Kama high school, a club has been made for students who are lonely but cannot find anyone in their life because of their odd interests. It is a chance for students to find their soulmate.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Sam Houston State University has rejected a property donation from a local busin...

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Ryan Davis

Former Gorman star Shabazz Muhammad focuses on passing his own test at NBA Summer League


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Minnesota Timberwolves Shabazz Muhammad guards NBA D-League Select Elijah Milsap Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack?Center.

NBA Summer League - Shabazz Muhammad

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Shabazz Muhammad started his first career NBA Summer League game with a specific plan. Judging by the statistics it didn?t go so well, but like a lot else in his life, Muhammad disagrees with the outside perception.

?I though I played really well,? said the former Bishop Gorman and UCLA wing.

Muhammad didn?t play badly Saturday in the Minnesota Timberwolves 83-81 loss to the NBA D-League Select Team at the Thomas & Mack Center. And even if he had, it?s an incredibly small sample size at the start of what the lottery pick hopes is a long NBA career.

The 14th pick in this year?s draft finished with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting, including 1-for-3 on 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist, three turnovers and four fouls. His plan for the game didn?t have anything to do with how many points he scored, although he surely would have preferred to pour in three more for a victory.

?I know I can score the ball,? Muhammad said, ?and I?m just trying to learn how to really pass the ball.?

How does he do that while also adjusting to NBA speed, even if it?s just Summer League speed? The answer ? keep your head up and look for teammates ? sounds simpler than it is.

Muhammad recently finalized his rookie deal, making him one of the few players on the court with a guaranteed contract. He doesn?t, however, have any guaranteed playing time come the regular season. Figuring out how best to find his teammates while learning to pick his spots to score could serve him well in finding court time for a suddenly loaded Minnesota roster.

Since the draft, in which the Timberwolves effectively traded Trey Burke for Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, the team signed veterans Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer to three-year deals. They also added shooting guard Kevin Martin, creating a logjam at multiple positions.

Of course, anonymity could be exactly what Muhammad needs. After spending at least the past two years under a spotlight this time away from it may be what he needs to learn his role and how best to create for others.

?It is a fresh start,? Muhammad said.

The Timberwolves return to the Mack on Monday at 3:30 p.m. vs. the Phoenix Suns. Considering Muhammad?s confidence in his ability to score won?t change between now and then he?s likely to go into that game with the same plan: don?t rush shots and find his teammates.

With enough games that may become something he can just do instead of telling himself to do it. For now he?s working on that plan game-by-game in front of a crowd happy to see him again.

?It felt great,? Muhammad said. ?Vegas is always my home.?


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Shahrukh, Hrithik movies inspired Chinese trio to intrude into India

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Source: --- Sunday, July 14, 2013
The three claimed that they were driven out by extreme poverty from home and wanted to come to India because they had seen it as a land of prosperity on the sliver screen ...


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jurors in Zimmerman murder trial resume deliberations in Florida

George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford

George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford (POOL, REUTERS / July 12, 2013)

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida jury on Saturday resumed deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, a case that has attracted wide attention and triggered debate in the U.S. public for more than a year.

The six-woman jury began deliberations inside the Seminole County courthouse in this town in central Florida on Friday but adjourned late in the day after about 3-1/2 hours. They resumed work at about 9 a.m. EDT.

They are to decide whether Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense in February last year, is guilty of second-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Tom Brown and sandra Maler)


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Now on Google Earth: marijuana fields

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS -- Venture into the virtual world of Google's satellite imagery and one can find, throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, what appear to be very real, very large marijuana grows.

Visible to anyone with an Internet connection, the sites appear to be well-financed operations, frequently with bulldozed sites, long greenhouses and even staff. And they go to the heart of an ongoing county debate over whether suppliers of medical marijuana dispensaries should be regulated, both in remote mountain areas and in residential neighborhoods.

"If we do nothing, all of the socio-environmental issues we're currently seeing will get worse," said Supervisor Zach Friend, who has asked county staff to look into the issue as part of a suite of pot club rules the county board could weigh in September. "It's not a secret that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and I'm hopeful that what we come up with returns neighborhoods to neighbors and environmentally sensitive areas back to nature."

It's not known whether the apparent marijuana operations depicted on Google Earth are street suppliers, sell directly to local medical marijuana dispensaries, or both. But officials say that is part of the problem -- marijuana is illegal under federal law, and while its medical use is allowed in the state, there are no standards for how the industry should be run.


Santa Cruz County sheriff's

spokesman Sgt. Patrick Dimick said local authorities can find themselves waiting for an evolving mix of local rules and court rulings before figuring how to respond to grow operations. A local licensing scheme would provide some clarity, he said.

As for whether local law enforcement would ever tap Google Earth as a resource, Dimick didn't rule it out.

"A lot goes into play as far as resources into an investigation," Dimick said. "It could stem from Google Earth, it could stem from interviews with people nearby, it could stem from search warrants for electricity bills. It goes on and on."

It is not clear if the operations are still in existence. Google uses commercial satellite imagery providers, and it can take awhile before those images make it to the Web. Pictures are typically at least six months old, and sometime several years old.

But the images also raise other issues, serving as a reminder that in the modern world, anyone's activities could be captured and recorded at any time -- even in the remote peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Google did not respond to repeated attempts to reach it, but Google Earth has sparked controversy before. Local officials in one Florida city used Google Earth to check on code complaints, and officials in Greece and in Riverhead, N.Y., used it to look for unpermitted pools.

County Planning Director Kathy Previsich said Google Earth is one tool for local code compliance officers, as well. The department does not proactively look for violations, but it isn't hard to enter an address into Google.

"Certainly, when we get a complaint it's one of the ways of beginning to investigate," Previsich said.

The county board's regulation of grow operations is expected to come as part of a package of rules governing local pot dispensaries. The board is likely to require everything from minimum distances from schools to programs for low-income patients.

Medical marijuana providers have welcomed those rules, seeing them as an official stamp of approval after operating for years in a legal gray area. Ben Rice, a Santa Cruz attorney who works with several dispensaries, said grow regulations -- which would place the county on the cutting edge statewide -- are welcome as well.

"My clients are upset that there are people that are using terrible practices and ignoring sensible approaches and making it harder for everyone," said Rice, who also has called for testing pot for pesticides and other chemicals -- as a few other states have -- to protect patients and the land.

As for the legal implications of Google's accidental surveillance, Rice said he has seen law enforcement use Google Earth in court. But more often, he added, they conduct flyovers themselves rather relying on satellites.

"They don't really need them," Rice said.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin at


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