FARC member sentenced
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced an ex-member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to more than 10-and-a-half years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. District Judge William Pauley handed down a 130-month prison sentence to Jorge Abel Ibarguen-Palacio, who had pleaded guilty in February. “Today’s sentence marks another successful prosecution of a FARC member and deals yet another blow to this dangerous terrorist organization,” Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Crackdown on crack begins
The government on Wednesday launched a war on what it called a “crack epidemic,” including medical treatment for addicts and a crackdown on trafficking, particularly in border areas. “We are facing a crack epidemic in our country,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha, flanked by President Dilma Rousseff and other officials, said in Brasilia. Between 2003 and this year, the number of cases of “chemical dependency” in the nation has increased tenfold, hitting groups and regions which previously had not been affected, Padilha said, without giving further details. The government reacted with a US$2.2 billion plan focusing on prevention, care and repression, Rousseff said. The plan involves medical care for addicts, a crackdown on cocaine trafficking from the border areas to the cities and a legal reform to quickly destroy confiscated drugs to prevent their diversion, officials said.
Japan warned on whaling
Latin American members of the International Whaling Commission on Wednesday urged Japan to stop “scientific” whaling in Antarctic waters and to respect sanctuaries. The countries stated “their firmest rejection” of plans to hunt whales, “including endangered species, in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” a statement read. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay were the countries signing the statement. Japan’s whaling fleet left port on Tuesday for this season’s annual hunt in Antarctica, with Japan’s Coast Guard saying it would deploy extra security to protect it from anti-whaling activists. Commercial whaling has been banned worldwide since 1986. Japan on Wednesday said it planned to use some of the public funds earmarked for quake and tsunami reconstruction to boost security for the annual whaling hunt.
Sick deportee to return
A Mexican man who was deported while undergoing dialysis will be allowed back in the country on humanitarian grounds, officials said on Wednesday. Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted humanitarian parole to Francisco Cortez Lopez, 43, who was removed from the country last month. He spent the last three weeks in Tijuana. “All this time has been very difficult for me. ... I go out but I don’t know where to go. Only now that they’ve given me this news I can see clearly,” Cortez said.
Chopper crash kills tourists
A helicopter flying tourists to see the Hoover Dam crashed on Wednesday into a mountainside near Las Vegas, Nevada, killing four passengers and a pilot, a National Park Service spokesman said. The chopper was on a tour of the dam and heading back, the spokesman said. The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.