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In the Nation

U.S. drug dragnet snares 2,300

WASHINGTON - In what they billed as the most widely cast dragnet in the war on drugs coming across the Southwest border, federal law enforcement officials announced Thursday they had arrested nearly 2,300 people, seized 75 million tons of drugs, and confiscated $154 million in cash.

The nearly two-year, multiagency operation targeted the drug and money transportation networks of Mexico-based drug cartels and was executed around the United States. Among those arrested was Mexican cartel leader Ramon Castro-Rocha, who was detained by Mexican authorities on a U.S. request.

Michele M. Leonhart, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, described how hundreds of cars, buses, and trucks that were stopped were found to have cash or drugs hidden in gas tanks and air bags and behind trap doors.

Previous such sweeps have ended up frustrating U.S. authorities because more violent cartel leaders stepped into the breach. This time, with the scope of "Project Deliverance," which included 3,000 agents and arrested 429 people in 16 states on Wednesday alone, U.S. officials hope to have dealt a crippling blow.

- Los Angeles Times

First teams reach a mine blast site

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Exploratory teams have reached the heart of the West Virginia mine where 29 men died in the nation's worst coal-industry disaster in 40 years.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the teams were exploring along the longwall mining machine at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine shortly after noon Thursday. The machine slides a cutter back and forth across a seam to cut away chunks of coal.

The bodies of eight of the 29 men killed April 5 in an explosion at the southern West Virginia mine were found along the longwall face.

The exploratory teams are in the mine making sure it is safe for federal and state investigators to search for clues to the explosion. The MSHA said the teams had not found significant problems. - AP

2 GOP senators fault Kagan

WASHINGTON - Two senior Republican senators criticized Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Thursday for memos she wrote as a young law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, saying the papers suggest she lets politics dictate her legal decisions.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said the writings showed that Kagan wanted to use the law to achieve specific policy results, rather than deciding legal questions on their merits.

"It indicates a developing lawyer who has a political bent to their legal work - pretty significantly so," said Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which will hold Kagan's confirmation hearings. Kyl called the memos "troubling."

The two cited notes Kagan wrote to Marshall in which she argued the court shouldn't take certain cases based on her fear that doing so would give its conservative majority a chance to scale back abortion and criminal rights. Kagan was 27 when she began working for Marshall in 1987.
- AP