as the killers stormed the house, pleading for help. Phone records and Mr. Hérard’s initial testimony also showed that Mr. Moïse had called him at 1:39 a.m. on the night of the killing. But Mr. Hérard and his unit never engaged the hit squad at the residence, instead mounting a roadblock some distance away, according to his initial police testimony.

reprimanded the D.E.A. for its handling of the Manzanares case and for not doing more to clean up Haiti’s ports.

“I went through hell, speaking the truth and trying to do the right thing,” said Mr. McNichols.

Anatoly Kurmanaev in Port-au-Prince and Julian Barnes in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

‘We’re Living in Hell’: Inside Fresnillo, Mexico’s Most Terrified City

FRESNILLO, Mexico — The violence was already terrifying, she said, when grenades exploded outside her church in broad daylight some five years ago. Then children in town were kidnapped, disappearing without a trace. Then the bodies of the executed were dumped in city streets.

And then came the day last month when armed men burst into her home, dragged her 15-year-old son and two of his friends outside and shot them to death, leaving Guadalupe — who didn’t want her full name published out of fear of the men — too terrified to leave the house.

“I do not want the night to come,” she said, through tears. “Living with fear is no life at all.”

For most of the population of Fresnillo, a mining city in central Mexico, a fearful existence is the only one they know; 96 percent of residents say they feel unsafe, the highest percentage of any city in Mexico, according to a recent survey from Mexico’s national statistics agency.

the Mexican government. Lately, it has become a national horror show, with cadavers found dangling from bridges, stuffed into plastic bags or even tied to a cross.

Across Mexico, murders have dropped less than 1 percent since Mr. López Obrador took office, according to the country’s statistics agency. That was enough for the president to claim, in a speech last month, that there had been an improvement on a problem his administration inherited. “There is peace and calm,” he said in June.

Many in Fresnillo disagree.

“‘Hugs not bullets’ doesn’t work,” said Javier Torres Rodríguez, whose brother was shot and killed in 2018. “We’re losing the ability to be shocked.”

the authorities said they had frozen 1,352 bank accounts linked to 14 criminal groups, including powerful drug cartels.

But the collection of programs and law-enforcement actions never coalesced into a clear public policy, critics said.

There is “an unstoppable situation of violence and a tragic deterioration of public security in Mexico,” said Angelica Duran-Martinez, an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. “There’s not a clear security policy.”

has also doubled down on his support for the armed forces, embracing the militarization that also marked previous administrations.

One central pillar of his approach to fighting crime has been the creation of the National Guard, a 100,000-strong federal security force deployed across some 180 regional barracks nationwide. Last week Mr. López Obrador announced that the guard would receive an additional $2.5 billion in funding.

102 people killed during the campaign, yet another sign of the country’s unraveling security.

His family is politically powerful. His brother, David, is governor-elect of Zacatecas. Another brother, Ricardo, leads the Morena party in the Senate and has said he intends to run for president in 2024. But not even the family’s political prominence has managed to rescue the city or the state.

central to the drug trade, a crossroads between the Pacific, where narcotics and drugmaking products are shipped in, and northern states along the United States border. Fresnillo, which sits in the center of important roads and highways, is strategically vital.

But for much of its recent history, residents say they were largely left alone. That began changing around 2007 and 2008 as the government’s assault on the cartels led them to splinter, evolve and spread.

In the last few years, the region has become embroiled in a battle between two of the country’s most powerful organized crime groups: the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Caught in the middle of the fighting are residents like Guadalupe. She can remember sitting on the stoop with neighbors until midnight as a young girl. Now, the city lies desolate after dark.

Guadalupe does not let her children play outside unsupervised, but even that couldn’t stop the violence from tearing her family apart. On the night her son was killed, in mid-July, four armed men stormed into her home, dragging out her son, Henry, and two friends who were sleeping over. There was a burst of gunfire, and then the assailants were gone.

It was Guadalupe who found the teenagers’ bodies.

Now she and her family live in terror. Too scared to stay in the same house, they moved in with Guadalupe’s parents in a different part of town. But the fear remained. Her 10-year-old daughter can barely sleep, she said, and Guadalupe keeps dreaming of her son’s killing. The motive, and the identity of the killers, remain unknown.

Guadalupe has thought about leaving town or even taking her own life. But for now, she sits in her parents’ small, cinder-block house, the curtains drawn, the shadows broken by the candles of a little altar to Henry and his fallen friends.

“There’s nothing here,” she said. “The fear has overwhelmed us.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Eurovision-Winning Damiano David Did Not Use Drugs, Broadcaster Says

“Online, people are suggesting that you were taking cocaine,” the reporter said. “What was it?”

Mr. David denied the speculation, saying that he bent down because another band member had broken a glass.

“I don’t use drugs, please, guys,” he said. “No, please don’t say that. Don’t say that, really. No cocaine. Please, don’t say that.”

A moderator of the news conference quickly tried to cut off the line of questioning.

“Let’s keep the questions about the artists and the music for tonight,” she said.

The European Broadcasting Union said in a statement on Sunday that a broken glass had been found after a check of the site.

Barbara Pravi, the French singer, finished second at Eurovision.

Before the show’s broadcasters announced that Mr. David had passed a drug test, Clément Beaune, the French minister of state for European affairs, suggested during an interview with the television network BFMTV on Monday that there should be sanctions against Maneskin, including the band’s possible disqualification, if Mr. David tested positive for drugs.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Ms. Pravi said that Maneskin’s win was well deserved and that the band had been chosen by the viewers. She said it was their victory and their moment.

As the band’s members hoisted the glass microphone trophy that is given to the winners of Eurovision, Mr. David declared that rock ’n’ roll was here to stay.

“We just want to say to the whole Europe, to the whole world,” he said, “rock ’n’ roll never dies.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Police Operation in Rio de Janeiro Leaves at Least 25 Dead

RIO DE JANEIRO — A police operation targeting drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning left at least 25 people dead, including a police officer, in an operation that officials and human rights activists called the deadliest in the city’s history.

The gun battle in Jacarezinho, a poor and working-class district controlled by the drug gang known as Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, also wounded at least two subway passengers who were struck as their train was caught in the crossfire.

Residents and human rights activists accused the police of using excessive force and questioned why the operation was launched at all, given a Supreme Court ban on law enforcement raids in the city during the pandemic.

Nadine Borges, vice president of the human rights commission at Brazil’s bar association, said a team of lawyers gathering facts had heard chilling preliminary accounts.

a record high. Officers are seldom subject to criminal investigation or prosecution.

Gun battles between the police and gang members in Rio de Janeiro are routine. Heavily armed traffickers act as the de facto authority in vast areas of the city, including Jacarezinho, where drugs are sold in plain sight.

Elected officials who have been critical of the police denounced Thursday’s raid.

“The slaughter in Jacarezinho is a typical example of the barbarities that happen in favelas in Rio,” Talíria Petrone, a federal lawmaker from Rio de Janeiro, said in a statement. “It’s the state doing the minimum to guarantee rights and doing the maximum to repress and kill.”

A Supreme Court justice last June banned routine police operations in Rio de Janeiro during the pandemic. The justice, Edson Fachin, said the police could carry out only those operations considered “absolutely exceptional.”

Joel Luiz Costa, a lawyer from Jacarezinho, said he visited several homes in which people were killed on Thursday and saw evidence that residents had been executed.

“This is cruel. This is barbaric,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “Did it end drug trafficking because 25 people were killed? Will this end drug trafficking?”

he said during his swearing in ceremony on Saturday.

Rodrigo Oliveira, the police chief, said his officers had conducted themselves lawfully.

“The only execution that took place was that of the police officer,” he said. “The other deaths that occurred were those of traffickers who attacked the police and were neutralized.”

View Source

A Pop-Up Vaccine Site in One of Canada’s Most Impoverished Neighborhoods

The gritty neighborhood is in one of Canada’s most dreamy and picturesque cities, on about 15 blocks that are among the poorest and the most squalid in the country.

An epicenter of Canada’s opioid crisis, the area has become a stark symbol of urban poverty, addiction and social marginalization in one of the world’s wealthiest nations, but also one of resilience, community and progressive social policies.

1,724 deaths in the province from drug overdoses, or an average of about 4.7 deaths a day, according to the British Columbia Coroners Service.

The vaccination program comes as British Columbia’s health care system is under severe strain because of the pandemic with hospitalizations reaching new heights. As of Friday, the province had recorded 123,000 cases of Covid-19, of which 1,550 people have died.

Meanwhile, in the Downtown Eastside, the virus appears to have been largely contained. In mid-February, the neighborhood had about 75 cases of the coronavirus in one week, according to the local health authority. Today, about 7,500 local residents have been vaccinated and cases have trickled down to about five this week.

Alana Paterson, a photographer for The New York Times, set out with her camera to document the vaccination program in action. A Vancouver resident herself, she told me she was heartened by the way dedicated nurses had managed to establish trust in a community with a strong distrust of authority. Some residents had told the nurses they were too afraid to get vaccinated.

@DanBilefsky


greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement, largely because of the oil sands. (An update: Mr. Trudeau raised Canada’s target for emissions reductions to 40 to 45 percent, Mr. Biden committed the United States to a 50 percent reduction).

  • When Mr. Trudeau legalized recreational marijuana, many investors had dreams of wealth from getting in on the ground floor of the nation’s newest legal vice. Two and a half years later, the industry continues to retreat and remains burdened with dizzying losses.

  • In a decision that angered civil liberties groups, a court in Quebec largely upheld the province’s law barring public sector employees from wearing religious symbols while on the job.

  • A Bloc Québécois member of Parliament acknowledged that he was the source of a leaked screenshot showing William Amos, a Liberal member from Quebec, appearing nude on Zoom by mistake during a House of Commons session last week.

  • In her review, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote that “The Marijuana Conspiracy,” a new film set in Canada in 1972 dramatizing an actual experiment to test the effects of cannabis on young women, is an “agonizingly gauche movie” that “feels like a missed opportunity for a searing ethical investigation.”

  • This week, Patrick Marleau surpassed the record for the greatest number of games played in the N.H.L. set by Gordie Howe, another native of Saskatchewan, in 1961.


  • This week’s Trans Canada section was compiled by Ian Austen, The Times’s Ottawa correspondent.


    How are we doing?
    We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

    Like this email?
    Forward it to your friends, and let them know they can sign up here.

    View Source

    Drug Overdose Deaths Have Surged During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Says

    On Tuesday, several dozen organizations that work on addiction and other health issues asked Mr. Biden’s health and human services secretary, Xavier Becerra, to “act with urgency” and eliminate the rule that doctors go through a day of training before getting federal permission to prescribe buprenorphine. Many addiction experts are also calling for abolishing rules that had already been relaxed during the pandemic so that patients don’t have to come to clinics or doctors’ offices for addiction medications.

    Although many programs offering treatment, naloxone and other services for drug users have reopened at least partly as the pandemic has dragged on, many others remain closed or severely curtailed, particularly if they operated on a shoestring budget to begin with.

    Sara Glick, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said a survey of about 30 syringe exchange programs that she conducted last spring found that many closed temporarily early in the pandemic. After reopening, she said, many programs cut back services or the number of people they could help.

    “With health departments spending so much on Covid, some programs have really had to cut their budgets,” she said. “That can mean seeing fewer participants, or pausing their H.I.V. and hepatitis C testing.”

    At the same time, increases in H.I.V. cases have been reported in several areas of the country with heavy injection drug use, including two cities in West Virginia, Charleston and Huntington, and Boston. West Virginia’s legislature passed a law last week placing new restrictions on syringe exchange programs, which advocates of the programs said would force many to close.

    Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act includes $1.5 billion for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, as well as $30 million in funding for local services that benefit people with addiction, including syringe exchange programs. The latter is significant because while federal funds still largely cannot be spent on syringes for people who use drugs, the restriction does not apply to money from the stimulus package, according to the Office of Drug Control Policy. Last week, the administration announced that federal funding could now be used to buy rapid fentanyl test strips, which can be used to check whether drugs have been mixed or cut with fentanyl.

    Fentanyl or its analogues have increasingly been detected in counterfeit pills being sold illegally as prescription opioids or benzodiazepines — sedatives like Xanax that are used as anti-anxiety medications — and particularly in meth.

    Northeastern states that had been hit hardest by opioid deaths in recent years saw some of the smallest increases in deaths in the first half of the pandemic year, with the exception of Maine. The hardest-hit states included West Virginia and Kentucky, which have long ranked at the top in overdose deaths, but also western states like California and Arizona and southern ones like Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee.

    View Source

    Are Your Illegal Drugs Pure? New Zealand Will Check Them for You.

    According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health, around 9 percent of New Zealanders have used an illicit drug in the past year, with cannabis the most popular. Synthetic cannabis is a common problem, with more than 40 deaths associated with the drug reported in 2018. (The country narrowly voted against legalizing marijuana in a referendum last year.) Drugs are the third most common reason young people are kicked out of school.

    While New Zealand has long struggled with methamphetamine abuse, party drugs are increasingly common. In 2019, the New Zealand police seized more than two million Ecstasy tablets and their equivalents, up 560 percent from 2018.

    It is these party drugs in particular that have resulted in injury or death, sometimes as a result of people taking mislabeled or contaminated drugs. This year, KnowYourStuff received almost 1,000 messages from festivalgoers who reported atypical reactions to drugs sold to them as MDMA, including paranoia, seizures, severe nausea and days of insomnia. The drugs are believed to have been contaminated with synthetic cathinones.

    Speaking in Parliament last year, Andrew Little, the minister of health, emphasized that the current New Zealand government saw drug policy as a health matter rather than a criminal one.

    A prosecution-led approach has not worked, he said, adding: “It’s not changing. If we want to change behaviors, then we’ve got to take a different approach.”

    The data is spotty, but promising.

    A survey from Victoria University found that 68 percent of surveyed festivalgoers who used the testing services changed their behavior, with some reducing the amount they took while others disposed of their drugs altogether.

    A similar study held at a festival in Canberra, Australia, in 2019 found that “all those who had a very dangerous substance detected disposed of that drug in the amnesty bin.”

    View Source

    Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández Faces Questions in Drug Trial’s Wake

    He received briefcases stuffed with cash. He held clandestine meetings with drug traffickers in a rice factory. He sought to invest in a cocaine lab. He vowed to flood the United States with drugs. And he did all of this while pursuing the highest office in Honduras.

    These were some of the accusations made about President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras in a federal courtroom in New York this month.

    Mr. Hernández, who has repeatedly denied any association with drug traffickers, was not standing trial in the case and has not been charged with any crimes. Rather, Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, a Honduran citizen, was the defendant; he was convicted on Monday on all counts, including conspiracy to traffic cocaine and arms possession.

    most trying to reach the United States.

    Credit…U.S. District Court

    The trial added to the growing mound of evidence gathered by federal prosecutors in recent years that casts Mr. Hernández as a key player in Honduras’ drug-trafficking industry. The proceedings led analysts to believe that formal charges against Mr. Hernández himself may not be far away.

    “It’s yet another nail in his coffin,” said Eric L. Olson, director of policy at the Seattle International Foundation and an expert on Latin America. “But more than what this means for Juan Orlando, this sends another message to the people of Honduras that there’s no future for them, and what’s the point of hanging around?”

    The swirl of corruption allegations around Mr. Hernández has been building for years.

    In 2017, international observers documented many irregularities in his election to a second term, prompting weeks of violent protests around the country. The opposition said he should not have been on the ballot in the first place, arguing that Mr. Hernández had unfairly stacked the Supreme Court with his supporters, who then lifted the nation’s constitutional ban on re-election.

    More recently, federal prosecutors in the United States have sought to show that the president built a symbiotic relationship with drug traffickers who provided financial support for his political ascent in return for protection from prosecution.

    was convicted in federal court in New York on drug trafficking charges and is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

    The accusations made by American government lawyers over the years have made for a jarring contrast with the United States’ continued political support for Mr. Hernández, who has cast himself as a willing partner in the effort to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    In testimony during the trial this month, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, who once ran a violent drug gang called Los Cachiros, testified that in 2012 he gave $250,000 in cash to Mr. Hernández — transferring it by way of the president’s sister, Hilda Hernández — in exchange for the promise that he would not be arrested and extradited to the United States. Mr. Hernández, at the time, was running for his party’s presidential nomination.

    Another witness, a Honduran accountant who testified under the pseudonym José Sánchez, said he witnessed Mr. Hernández accepting bribes from Mr. Fuentes and negotiating access to the drug trafficker’s cocaine lab during meetings at the offices of Graneros Nacionales, the biggest rice producer in Honduras.

    “I couldn’t believe what I was watching,” Mr. Sánchez said of an encounter in 2013, when Mr. Hernández was running for president on his party’s ticket. “I was looking at the presidential candidate meeting with a drug trafficker.”

    Mr. Sánchez said that in those meetings, Mr. Hernández was twice given bribes of cash stuffed into briefcases, one with $15,000 and the other with $10,000. The accountant said he was personally responsible for counting the cash: $20 bills wrapped in rubber bands.

    Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia Law School.

    Mr. Hernández has denied the allegations of corruption and has argued that the testimony in the Fuentes case, as in the trial of his brother, came from unreliable witnesses who were trying to punish him for his efforts to clean Honduras of drug trafficking. Moments after the jury returned its verdict on Monday, he took to Twitter to defend himself, citing what he called an “unprecedented 95 percent reduction” in drug trafficking across Honduras.

    The trial played out in Honduras against the backdrop of presidential and congressional campaigns that have further underscored the degree to which corruption riddles the political system.

    Charles Call, an associate professor of peace and conflict resolution at American University in Washington.

    Following the verdict this week, Hondurans expressed a sense of fatigue, and widespread cynicism that anything would change.

    “We do not live in a state of law,” said Edwin Kelly, 35, a data analyst from La Ceiba who lamented “the power of the narco-president.”

    The latest revelations might, though, drive even more migrants to head north.

    There are many reasons more Honduras have been leaving in recent years, among them insecurity and poverty, said Mr. Olson, of the Seattle International Foundation.

    “But there’s a meta-story, which is the failure of government,” he said “We need to give the people of Central America a sense of hope. And that starts with fighting corruption and ending this ridiculous theft of Hondurans’ future.”

    View Source

    Mexico Passes Bill to Legalize Cannabis

    MEXICO CITY — Lawmakers in Mexico approved a bill Wednesday night to legalize recreational marijuana, a milestone for the country, which is in the throes of a drug war and could become the world’s largest cannabis market, leaving the United States between two pot-selling neighbors.

    The 316-to-129 vote in Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, came more than two years after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the country’s ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional and more than three years after the country legalized medicinal cannabis.

    The chamber approved the bill in general terms Wednesday evening before moving on to a lengthy discussion of possible revisions introduced by individual lawmakers. In its final form, though, the measure is widely expected to sail through the Senate before being sent to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has signaled support for legalization.

    The measure, as of Wednesday night, would allow adults to smoke marijuana and, with a permit, grow a small number of cannabis plants at home. It would also grant licenses for producers — from small farmers to commercial growers — to cultivate and sell the crop.

    promised to scrap federal prohibition of the drug this year.

    For “Mexico, given its size and its worldwide reputation for being damaged by the drug war, to take this step is enormously significant,” said John Walsh, director of drug policy for the Washington Office on Latin America, a U.S. advocacy group. “North America is heading toward legalization.”

    according to recent polling.

    the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Legalization “is an important step toward building peace in a country like ours, where for at least a decade or more, we’ve been immersed in an absurd war,” said Lucía Riojas Martínez, a Mexican congresswoman who made headlines in 2019 when she gave a rolled joint to the country’s interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, after delivering a speech in Congress.

    “But this bill falls short of achieving that,” she added.

    published rules in January covering the growing and research of medicinal cannabis.

    Local advocates say the restrictions on possession will limit the bill’s impact, particularly for low-income consumers, who may fall prey to extortion from the police, a regular occurrence in Mexico.

    “We live in a country where corruption and extortion is the norm,” said Zara Snapp, co-founder of the RIA Institute, a Mexico-city based drug policy research and advocacy group.

    Still, for many proponents in Mexico, approving the bill is a notable step in the long journey toward full legalization.

    “It’s like when you’re running a marathon and you haven’t started — running the first meter helps to start the discussion,” said Mr. Sánchez, the marijuana businessman. “It means firing the starting gun, even if we still have 42 kilometers left to go.”

    View Source

    Honduran Leader Vowed to Help Flood U.S. With Cocaine, Prosecutor Says

    “I will maintain international cooperation,” he wrote. “But the next government and those of other countries? How will the future be if the narcos win benefits from the USA for their false testimonies, with obvious lies?”

    He added, “Inevitable collapse.”

    The trial of Mr. Fuentes, who has denied the charges against him, is expected to run into next week. A defense lawyer for Mr. Fuentes, Eylan Schulman, said in his opening argument that his client was “an innocent man wrongly accused of very serious crimes.”

    If Tuesday’s statements, coupled with court filings, are any indication, prosecutors are likely to draw a stark portrait of Mr. Hernández as a key player in the drug trafficking industry, which has contributed to the dysfunction and violence that has driven many Hondurans to leave the country in search of safety and better opportunity.

    Mr. Gutwillig, the prosecutor, did not mince words in his opening arguments on Tuesday: He called Honduras “a narco-state.”

    Mr. Fuentes, he said, “distributed massive quantities of cocaine to the United States,” a business that was enabled through his connections “to police, military and political power in Honduras: mayors, congressmen, military generals and police chiefs, even the current president of Honduras.”

    “The defendant owned them all — bought and paid for,” Mr. Gutwillig said.

    Mr. Fuentes developed a relationship with Mr. Hernández, who took office in 2014, in a series of secret meetings in 2013 and 2014 during which the men “plotted to send as much cocaine as possible to the United States,” the prosecutor said. Mr. Fuentes paid Mr. Hernández $25,000 for the help.

    Mr. Hernández, he said, “made the defendant bulletproof.”

    Court records describe conversations between Mr. Hernández and Mr. Fuentes in which the president tells the accused trafficker not to worry about arrest, extradition or the long reach of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. According to prosecutors, Mr. Hernández told Mr. Fuentes that his fight against drug trafficking was a bluff and that he planned to get rid of the extradition policy and swamp the United States with cocaine.

    View Source