Police suspected in gang deaths

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - At least five times in the last few months, members of a Honduras street gang were killed or went missing just after run-ins with the U.S.-supported national police, the Associated Press has determined, feeding accusations that they were victims of federal death squads.

In a country with the highest homicide rate in the world and where only a fraction of crimes are prosecuted, the victims' families say the police are literally getting away with murder.

In March, two mothers discovered the bodies of their sons after the men had called in a panic to say they were surrounded by armed, masked police. The young men, both members of the 18th Street gang, had been shot in the head, their hands bound so tightly that the cords cut to the bone.

The 18th Street gang and another known as Mara Salvatrucha are the country's biggest gangs, formed by Central American immigrants in U.S. prisons, who later overran this small Central American country as their members were deported back home.

- AP

Shabazz killing leads to charges

MEXICO CITY - Two waiters at a Mexico City bar will face homicide and robbery charges in the beating death of Malcolm X's grandson Malcolm Shabazz, authorities said Monday.

Prosecutors said police were seeking at least two other people believed to have participated in the attack on Shabazz, who was beaten early Thursday in a dispute over a $1,200 bar bill. Prosecutor Rodolfo Fernando Rios said bar employees David Hernandez Cruz and Manuel Alejandro Perez de Jesus would be charged with aggravated robbery and homicide.

Rios said there was no indication of a racial motivation in the attack on Shabazz, 28, who was assaulted after he drank with a friend at the Palace bar on Garibaldi Plaza.

Miguel Suarez, a friend of Shabazz, said last week that the fight broke out after the owner of the bar demanded that the two men pay 15,000 pesos for the time they spent drinking at the bar. - AP

Mexico volcano rumbling to life

MEXICO CITY - Officials are preparing evacuation routes and shelters for tens of thousands of people who live in the shadow of Popocatepetl, a giant volcano 40 miles southeast of Mexico City.

"Popo," as the volcano is known, has displayed a "notable increase in activity levels" in the last few days, including tremors and explosive eruptions, according to a statement from the government.

Webcams have shown chunks of molten rock spewing from the crater, and ash has rained down on the city of Puebla.

On Sunday, Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention elevated its warning level to "Yellow Phase 3," the fifth of a seven-stage warning scale.

- Los Angeles Times