Mexico

A German court says gunmaker Heckler & Koch skirted the law when it exported thousands of military-grade assault rifles to Mexican states struggling to cope with violent drug cartels, hitting the large company with a fine of 3.7 million euros ($4.2 million).

As part of the ruling, two former H&K employees were given suspended prison sentences of 17 and 22 months. Prosecutors had initially put five former employees on trial and sought prison sentences for three of them.

The trial for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who stands accused of leading one of the world's most infamous drug trafficking organizations, has unfolded like a television drama.

In laying out her closing argument on Wednesday — day 37 of the trial — Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Goldbarg presented the jury with a montage of images and intercepted audio which, she said, explicitly laid out how drugs were transported, how police were paid off and how violence coursed through the cartel with Guzmán at its helm.

Mexico's homicide rate continued to skyrocket last year, making 2018 the deadliest on record for the country with an average of 91 deaths a day.

Updated Jan. 21 at 9:55 a.m. ET

For weeks, a crackdown on fuel theft by the Mexican government has led to widespread gas shortages and miles-long lines at gas stations.

So when a pipeline in the state of Hidalgo burst open Friday, sending a spray of fuel into the air, area residents rushed to collect it in buckets and barrels.

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Two hours later, the gushing pipeline exploded, turning what had been an excited gathering into a hellish inferno.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador came into office promising to end massive fuel imports from the US and to bring down prices at the pump. Instead, two months into office, the country is facing a massive gas shortage that threatens to dampen the economy.

Drop by drop, gallon by gallon, thieves have been draining the pipelines and coffers of the Mexican government.

Last year, $3 billion worth of fuel was stolen from Pemex, Mexico's state-owned oil company, according to the country's new president. But a crackdown by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has left many ordinary Mexicans struggling to find gas.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Immigrant caravans – and family separation. Venezuela and Nicaragua rocked by refugee and human rights crises. Someone not named Castro becoming president of Cuba; Brazil and Mexico electing populists as presidents – one of them with a big reputation for sexism. But women surging big at the polls, too.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the man accused of having run the world's largest drug trafficking organization, is about to see his day in a U.S. court. Jury selection began Monday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tara Chadwick / Courtesy

When I was a little girl, my mom told me, “Nadie sabe lo que tiene hasta que lo ve perdido,” which translates to, "you don’t know what you've got til it's gone."

Her words still resonate with me today, especially since this is my first year away from Texas – my home.

Updated 11:01 p.m. ET

Hurricane Willa, which is a Category 3 storm, made landfall near Isla del Bosque, Sinaloa, in Western Mexico.

Willa is "extremely dangerous" and bringing "life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall" to Mexico's Pacific Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A large group of mostly Honduran refugees, reportedly numbering into the thousands, has crossed into Guatemala in a caravan that is believed headed to the U.S. border.

Hundreds of migrants have arrived at the Guatemalan border town of Tecún Umán, along the southern border of Mexico, James Fredrick reports for NPR. Organizers of the caravan say they are waiting for thousands more to join them in the coming days, before attempting to cross the Mexican border.

Rising rates of homicides and drug violence have created an overflow at Mexico's morgues. So much so, that several cities have resorted to storing dead bodies in refrigerated trailers.

This sparked a national scandal after some residents complained about the stench coming from one of the trailers parked in their neighborhood in the western city of Guadalajara.

Christian Palma / AP via Miami Herald

Mexico was in the news a lot last week. It hailed a new trade agreement with the U.S. and Canada to replace NAFTA – and President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador and President Trump even spoke by phone about ways to improve Mexico’s economic development in order to reduce illegal immigration.

“We estimate joint investments of more than $30 billion toward that effort,” López Obrador said then in Mexico City. It was a major break from the animosity that’s existed between Mexico and the U.S. since Trump was elected two years ago after running a campaign that insulted Mexico – and Mexicans – at about every stop.

So this feels like a big moment for Mexico, which is economically and politically the most important country in Latin America for the U.S. Yet in this part of the U.S. – Florida and especially South Florida – we’re so focused on Cuba and South America that we rarely think about Mexico.

The University of Miami thinks that has to change.

Federal and state authorities in Mexico have disarmed the entire police force in the city of Acapulco as investigators look into suspicions that it has been infiltrated by drug gangs.

According to The Associated Press, officers "were stripped of their guns, radios and bullet-proof vests and taken for background checks. Law enforcement duties in the seaside city of 800,000 will be taken over by soldiers, marines and state police."

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