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News Briefs 2

Alleged Drug Kingpin Arrested

The Washington Post

A U.S. magistrate in Houston Tuesday ordered alleged drug kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego held without bond until a Feb. 6 arraignment on charges that he operated a multibillion-dollar cocaine business stretching from Mexico into the United States.

In an hour-long hearing before federal Magistrate Frances Stacy, Garcia Abrego agreed to forgo an immediate bond hearing and wait in Harris County jail pending his arraignment on 20 charges brought against him by a federal grand jury. Garcia Abrego, who holds U.S. as well as Mexican citizenship, was arrested by Mexican authorities Sunday and flown to the United States a day later.

The first international drug trafficker to be placed on the FBI's "Most Wanted List," Garcia Abrego was indicted in 1993 on charges of drug running and offering bribes as part of a conspiracy to ship tons of cocaine into the United States in collaboration with Colombia's Cali cartel. He is also suspected of involvement in dozens of murders and the assassination of prominent Mexican politicians, including Luis Donaldo Colosio, the 1994 presidential candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Law enforcement officials also described the arrest as significant, but noted that the Gulf cartel, which Garcia Abrego allegedly headed, is unlikely to be affected by the arrest.

Apple CEO Could Be Casualty In Corporate Overhaul

Los Angeles Times

As Apple Computer Inc. prepares to announce a major layoff and strategic overhaul on Wednesday, speculation is mounting that Chief Executive Michael Spindler could be among the casualties - in part because of health problems.

According to friends of the 53-year-old Apple chief, he has suffered from high blood pressure and has often been under doctor's orders to stay away from the office. "There's a real question as to whether Michael has the energy to do what needs to be done for Apple," said a source close to Apple.

Apple announced last week that it would report a $68 million operating loss for the fiscal quarter ended Dec. 30, traditionally the strongest for computer makers, because of plummeting margins and slower-than-expected sales. The company is expected announce a major layoff when it releases its full earnings report Wednesday, with some analysts speculating that as many as 25 percent of the company's 13,000 employees could get pink slips.

In a brief interview with the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, Apple Chairman A.C. "Mike" Markkula - who has thus far been a strong supporter of Spindler - expressed concern about the chief executive's health.

Long-time Apple-watchers say Spindler's health could provide the board with a convenient excuse to dump the company's now-controversial chief executive. "What Markkula said tells me that Spindler is out," said Jean-Louis Gassee, formerly head of research and development for the Cupertino, Calif. computer company. "It was calculated. They're sending up a trial balloon to see how it flies."

Markkula, who has been a key player throughout Apple tumultuous 19-year history, has fired three chief executives before.