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Friday Apr. 19, 2002



Tijuana's top prosecutor, police administrator reinstated after gang-protection allegations

Associated Press

Tijuana's top state prosecutor and police administrator have returned to their jobs less than a week after being arrested along with 40 others on allegations they protected Mexico's deadliest drug gang.

Operations commander Carlos Otal Namur and state prosecutor Rogelio Delgado Neri announced Wednesday that they had returned to their posts.

"I was completely confused," Otal told a news conference. "The fact that the authorities of the Specialized Unit against Organized Crime have let me go means that I am a clean man."

Otal's return contradicts statements made by President Vicente Fox during his visit to the border city Monday that officials would remain suspended until federal authorities conclude their investigation.

Last week, soldiers and federal police raided a police academy in Tecate, 65 miles (105 kilometers) east of Tijuana, and arrested 41 police officers on allegations they protected the Arellano Felix drug organization. Delgado was arrested in Tijuana shortly after the raid.

Federal authorities late Sunday released 32 of the detainees, including Otal and Delgado, and charged 10 of the police officers.


Bush says expanded U.S. aid for Colombia would help with America's war against terrorism

Associated Press

President Bush told Colombian President Andres Pastrana yesterday that helping that South American ally defeat drug traffickers is part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism.

"My biggest job now is to defend our security and to help our friends defend their security against terror," Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with Pastrana.

Pastrana said Colombia and the United States "are fighting a common enemy that is narco-trafficking and narco-terrorism."

Bush has asked Congress to remove restrictions that bar Colombia from using U.S. helicopters and other drug-fighting assistance against leftist guerrillas in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which the State Department has branded a terrorist group.

"These aren't 'so-called terrorists,' these are terrorists. ... They've captured people. They're after Andres," Bush said.

"By fighting narco-trafficking, by the way, we're fighting the funding source for these political terrorists. And sometimes they're interchangeable," he added.

On Capitol Hill, however, Colombia's role in the U.S. effort was greeted with skepticism at a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, which is considering Bush's additional request for nearly $600 million in anti-terror aid to Colombia.

Rep. Sonny Callahan, R-Ala., asked Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage what Colombia has to do with the U.S. war on terrorism.

"We do believe this is part of the war on global terrorism," Armitage replied.

"We know ... FARC is targeting Americans, and not just targeting officials and infrastructure in Colombia."


Arizona's jobless rate drops for first time since July

Associated Press

Arizona's unemployment rate dropped slightly in March, marking its first improvement since July.

According to a Department of Economic Security report released yesterday, the rate fell by two-tenths of one percentage point, from 6 percent in February to 5.8 percent in March.

"It's obviously encouraging," said Dan Anderson, research administrator at DES. "But can we be assured that we've reached the bottom of the economic decline? ... Let's give it three months to see if this one-month drop changes into a trend."

The March jobless rate in the Phoenix area was 5.6 percent - one-tenth of a percent below February's rate. Tucson's rate last month was unchanged at 4.7 percent.

While the private sector added 11,000 jobs in March, government jobs shrank by 300, the report said.

The report mentions positive gains in Arizona's retail industry, which added 3,300 jobs in March.



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