Mexico City, October 22 (AP/UNB) — Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an "extremely dangerous" near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico's western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta by Wednesday.
The governments of Sinaloa and Nayarit states ordered coastal region schools to close on Monday and began preparing emergency shelters ahead of the onslaught.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Willa could "produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico beginning on Tuesday." It predicted that Willa could become a Category 5 hurricane later Monday, generating life-threatening surf and rip tide conditions.
A hurricane warning was posted for Mexico's western coast between San Blas and Mazatlan, including the Islas Marias, a nature reserve and federal prison directly in the forecast track of the storm.
Tropical storm warnings ranged from Playa Perula north to San Blas and from Mazatlan north to Bahia Tempehuaya. The center said Willa is expected make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
By early Monday, Willa had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (255 kph) — the same windspeed Hurricane Michael had at landfall in Florida — and was centered about 200 miles (325 kilometers) south-southwest of the Islas Marias and 155 miles (250 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes. It was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph).
Hurricane force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the storm's core and tropical storm force winds were up to 90 miles (150 kilometers) out.
The hurricane center said 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) of rain should fall and some places could see up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) — on parts of western Jalisco, western Nayarit and southern Sinaloa states. It warned of the danger of flash flooding and landslides in mountainous areas.
Farther to the south, Tropical Storm Vicente weakened but was still expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding over parts of southern and southwestern Mexico.
By early Monday, its core was about 195 miles (310 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco with top sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). The hurricane center said it could produce 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) of rain in parts of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima and Jalisco states.
Sao Paulo, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of people took to the streets in Brazil Saturday to protest the candidacy of presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro, shouting "Not him!" which has become the rallying cry against the far-right former army captain.
In Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and 24 other cities, large crowds filled avenues and squares a week before the Oct. 28 second-round vote polls suggest Bolsonaro is likely to win.
Bolsonaro, who has angered many Brazilians by praising the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship and making comments offensive to gays, women and blacks, won the first round of voting on Oct. 7, getting 46 percent against 29 for Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party.
In front of the Sao Paulo Art Museum, people beat drums and waved gay pride flags as they denounced Bolsonaro. Many carried cardboard signs bearing Haddad's name and photo.
Tiago Silva, a 27-year-old philosophy teacher, said Bolsonaro "represents the fascism, intolerance and violence we are seeing in Europe and in the United States."
"It will be a disaster if he wins — and it looks like he will," he added.
Vinicius Bento, a 27-year-old lawyer, said voting for Haddad is "the only way to stop Bolsonaro and his racist, misogynist and fascists views from reaching the presidency."
"We have to get Haddad elected," he said, acknowledging that he didn't vote for him in the first round because he'd "lost faith" in the Workers' Party as a result of the corruption scandals it has been involved with. The left-leaning party governed Brazil between 2003 and 2016, and has been dogged by the massive "Carwash" corruption investigation.
Bolsonaro has appealed to many Brazilians weary of crime and corruption by promising a violent crackdown on drug gangs and other criminals, and by highlighting the corruption that took place under past Workers' Party administrations. He has also promised a return to "traditional Brazilian values."
Haddad, the hand-picked successor to jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has promised to bring back the boom times Brazil experienced under da Silva, fight inequality, invest more in education and improve state services.
Sao Paulo, Sept 29 (AP/UNB) — Brazil's far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro said Friday he would only accept the result of next month's election if he wins, suggesting that any victory by a rival would be through fraud.
Bolsonaro, a retired army captain who leads polls ahead of the Oct. 7 vote, did not provide any evidence that there will be vote fraud, but he said he doesn't trust Brazil's top electoral court.
"From what I see in the streets, I won't accept any result that is not my election," the candidate told TV Band.
Bolsonaro, who was hospitalized on Sept. 6 after being stabbed at a campaign event, has accused the rival Workers' Party of having fraud as its plan B in the elections.
His comments about vote fraud have been rejected by Brazil's electoral court and the Organization of American States, which is overseeing the elections.
If no one candidate wins a majority of the vote in the first round, a runoff between the two top vote-getters will be held on Oct. 28.
While Bolsonaro leads heading into the first round, several recent polls suggest he would lose a runoff to former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, who is currently second in the race.
The conservative candidate was expected to be released from hospital on Friday, but his departure was delayed because of fever and a minor infection.
Instead, he spent most of his day denying a report in the magazine Veja in which an ex-wife accused him of fraud, tax evasion and stealing money she kept in a bank safe in Rio de Janeiro. His campaign pledged to take the magazine to court because of the report.
Bolsonaro's ex-wife Ana Cristina Valle said she was "hot headed" when she made the accusations. She is currently running for Congress using her ex-husband's surname.
Mexico City, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Police in the northern Mexico state of Sonora say six severed human heads have been found in a plastic cooler on a roadside.
A Sonora official who was not authorized to be quoted by name says the grisly artifact was reported to an emergency number.
There was no immediate information on the identity of the men, nor were their bodies immediately found.
The heads were discovered Friday near the city of Ciudad Obregon.
Drug gangs often leave severed heads as a warning to rivals or authorities.
Until now, Sonora has not seen as much drug violence as other northern states.
Los Angeles, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — A Colombian drug kingpin who participated in a violent ring that used planes, speedboats and submarines to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars in cocaine faced federal trafficking charges Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom, prosecutors said.
Victor Hugo Cuellar-Silva is among nearly four dozen defendants charged in a vast conspiracy to ship tons of cocaine from South America through Mexico to the U.S.
The indictment unsealed Thursday was unique in targeting people throughout the drug distribution chain from the source of where the coke was produced in Colombia to investors in Mexico, transportation coordinators, houses where the drugs were stashed and to large scale distributors in the U.S., federal prosecutors said.
Cuellar-Silva, who was extradited Thursday from Colombia, was a high-ranking member of the drug ring headed by Mexican fugitive Angel Humberto Chavez-Gastelum, who is one of the most-wanted drug traffickers in the world, prosecutors said.
Chavez-Gastelum and his son, Alonso Jaime Gastelum-Salazar, are also charged in the indictment with two counts of murder in Mexico. One of the victims was tortured and dismembered, and the grisly act was shot on video obtained by investigators, prosecutors said.
"This drug ring has spread death and misery across the Americas and to other parts of the world, which makes this case among the most significant drug trafficking cases ever brought in this district," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said.
Authorities seized more than 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cocaine with a street value over $500 million during the three-year investigation.
The seizures included cocaine recovered after a plane was shot down by the Venezuelan military and crashed in the Caribbean, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Barron said.
Other drugs seized included nearly a ton of cocaine (833 kilograms) floating in bales off the coast of Tumaco, Colombia, and more than 1,500 pounds (700 kilograms) of cocaine and over 60 pounds (30 kilograms) of methamphetamine seized in a Tijuana, Mexico, house.
The indictment charged 47 people in the drug operation. Seven defendants were arrested in the U.S. on Thursday, four were in custody in Thailand and about a half-dozen were facing extradition from Colombia. The others remained at large.
Cuellar-Silva pleaded not guilty and was held in custody, Barron said. A defense lawyer representing him said he had no comment.
If convicted of the charges, Cuellar-Silva and Chavez-Gastelum face up to life in prison, prosecutors said.