The week at a glance...Americas


Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

Zetas head captured: Mexico’s most sadistic and feared drug cartel leader has been arrested. Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, known as “Z-40,” was armed and carrying $2 million in cash when Mexican troops in a helicopter stopped his pickup truck near the U.S. border and captured him without firing a shot. Though Treviño Morales never served in the military, he rose to the top of the Zetas, which formed around special forces soldiers who left the army to create their own drug cartel. The Zetas expanded into extortion, kidnapping, and human trafficking, and became notorious across Mexico for massacring trafficked migrants and beheading police and informers. Treviño Morales’s arrest is expected to kick off a vicious battle for control of the lucrative Nuevo Laredo corridor, through which tons of cocaine and marijuana cross into the U.S.

Panama City

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Smuggled weapons: Panama has seized a North Korean–flagged cargo ship that it says was smuggling missile parts from Cuba. President Ricardo Martinelli tweeted pictures of the equipment, which was hidden in a shipment of brown sugar, and defense analysts from Jane’s Intelligence Review said it looked like radar parts for Vietnam War–era surface-to-air missiles. Panamanian officials boarded the ship, the Chong Chon Gang, because they suspected it was carrying drugs. They said that as the search began, the crew became mutinous and the captain tried to slit his own throat. U.N. sanctions against North Korea prohibit the import of weapons.

São Paulo

Data mining: Brazil is rushing forward with a bill on Internet privacy after revelations that the U.S. has been spying on Brazilian telecommunications. Brazilian lawmakers have been apoplectic since Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for The Guardian (U.K.), wrote a long exposé in O Globo. He cited documents leaked by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggesting that a U.S. data-collection base in Brazil logs and stores the email and phone records of millions of Latin Americans. Brazil’s National Congress has now revived a bill that spells out what information telecom companies can keep and for how long. The bill stalled two years ago over concerns that it could hamper police investigations.

Santiago, Chile

Debate over pregnant child: The pregnancy of an 11-year-old raped by her stepfather has sparked a debate over legalizing abortion in Chile. “It will be like having a doll in my arms,” the girl, known only as Belén, told Chilean television. “I am going to love it very much.” President Sebastián Piñera praised the girl for showing such “maturity,” but former President Michelle Bachelet called her “a little girl who needs to be protected” and said abortion should be allowed in such circumstances. Bachelet is favored to beat Piñera in the November presidential election.

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