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News Briefs

Huge International Money-Laundering Operation Broken Up

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

Federal drug agents, in a coordinated undercover operation involving narcotics police in Italy, Colombia, Spain, Canada and the United Kingdom, have broken up a major international money-laundering system, arresting at least 169 suspects and seizing $54 million.

The investigation, conceived in Southern California in 1989 and announced Monday at press conferences here and in Rome, ensnared seven high-ranking money managers for the Cali cocaine cartel outside Colombia. An eighth failed to appear in Venezuela, where authorities were waiting in Caracas, a Drug Enforcement Administration official said.

The arrested money managers included Rodrigo Carlos Polania, a former inspector of Colombia's national bank who is suspected of being a "plant" for the cartel in the anti-narcotics financial task force in Bogota. He was arrested in San Diego Friday.

Italian authorities said the crackdown, called Operation Green Ice, uncovered a tight connection between Colombian drug barons and all three major branches of organized crime in Italy.

"We have completely destroyed this network," said Alessandro Pansa, a senior Italian police investigator.

Muslims Fleeing New Serb Purges

The Washington Post

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia

Serb forces have stepped up a deadly new wave of "ethnic cleansing" in northwestern Bosnia that appears aimed at pushing out the region's remaining 200,000 Muslims, according to international relief officials.

The Serb push is creating an explosive new refugee crisis in the area, exacerbated by the recent decisions of neighboring Croatia and Austria and other countries to seal their borders to more refugees.

In desperation, thousands of fleeing Muslims -- 3,500 on Saturday alone -- have begun paying Serb intermediaries large sums of money for permission to escape through the only remaining exit -- a daylong drive that culminates in a six-mile trek on foot past Serb snipers to the free Bosnian city of Travnik.

Tens of thousands of non-Serb civilians have been killed here in the past five months, according to an international observer with longer experience in this region than any other independent source. The purges began in earnest in late May, with the shelling and complete devastation of the Muslim village of Kozarac, 18 miles west of Banja Luka, where more than 3,000 Muslims are believed to have perished, some of them ordered into farm fields and run over by Serb army vehicles, according to international and local sources.

A renewed campaign of bombings, burning, torture and murder in the Banja Luka region has escalated dramatically in the past 2 1/2 weeks. It further erupted during the brief visit by U.N. peace envoys Cyrus Vance and David Owen here on Friday, according to Muslim leaders, Serb and Muslim citizens here and international organizations with wide contacts in the region.

The violence has reached a level of brutality so severe that it is outstripping the capacity of independent observers to monitor it.

"There's more of this, and worse, than anyone can imagine," a relief worker said. "Every day, 20, 30, even 50 (civilians) are being killed."

South Africa Frees Political Killers From Both Extremes

The Baltimore Sun

DURBAN, South Africa

The South African government released notorious killers from opposite ends of the political spectrum Monday in the name of political reform and reconciliation.

The most notorious former guerrilla released Monday was Robert McBride, a tall, brown-skinned man who planted a car bomb in 1986 that killed three white women. He walked out of prison here to a hero's welcome from dozens of activists from the African National Congress.

They shouted "Viva Robert McBride" and "Long Live," the usual chants of the black liberation movement, as the 29-year-old former guerrilla fighter stepped through the iron, sliding gate of Durban's Westville Prison, his right fist held high in the air.

He was flanked by his wife Paula, human rights activist from a wealthy white family who married him while he was on death row, and Walter Sisulu, an ANC veteran who spent 25 years as a political prisoner.

WEATHER

Colder Weather on the Way

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meterologist

A cold front will move offshore today and the coldest air of the season will follow. The cold air will arrive on increasing northwest winds as a cyclone to our north deepens. Mostly sunny days and clear, almost frosty nights will be the rule for the next few days. A weak disturbance will increase our cloud cover late Wenesday and early Thursday.

Tuesday afternoon: Variably cloudy with a shower possible. High 64-68F (18C). Winds northwest 10-15 mph (6-9 kph).

Tonight: Clearing, breezy, and colder. Low 38F (3C). Winds northwest 15-25 mph (9-16 kph).

Wednesday: Mostly sunny early followed by increasing high cloudiness. High 55-59F (13C). Low 40F (4C).

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 56F (13C). Low 35F (2C).