MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has indicted Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolás Maduro and several key aides on charges of narcoterrorism. The department accused them of conspiring with Colombian rebels "to flood the United States with cocaine." The sweeping action is bound to heighten tensions between Washington and Caracas as the spread of the coronavirus threatens to collapse a health system and oil-dependent economy driven deep into the ground by years of corruption and U.S. sanctions. Maduro accusied the U.S. and Colombia of “giving orders to flood Venezuela with violence.” The U.S. State Department is offering rewards of up to $55 million for information leading to the arrests or convictions of Maduro and his associates.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican border state of Chihuahua says it will set up a shelter to house deported migrants for a two-week quarantine. The state says the shelter will house migrants returned to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. The state said Thursday that an average of 65 migrants are deported through Ciudad Juarez every day, for a total of about 5,200 so far this year. The quarantine move is part of a series of measures announced Thursday to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The United States has over 81,000 cases, while Mexico has 585, though testing is far less frequent in Mexico.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The FBI has arrested a Southern California man who officials said falsely claimed to have developed a cure for the coronavirus and solicited investments in a company he said would market the medication. The U.S. Justice Department says in a statement that Keith Lawrence Middlebrook told his 2.4 million Instagram followers that his company would return hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. The statement says Middlebrook claimed he had developed pills to prevent COVID-19 infections and a drug to cure those suffering from the virus. There are no known cures or vaccinations for the coronavirus. It wasn't known if Middlebrook has an attorney who could comment.
CHICAGO (AP) — Singer R Kelly has cited the novel coronavirus in asking a federal judge to free him from a federal jail in Chicago as he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges. A Thursday court filing by his lawyers saying scant precautions to stem the spread of the virus behind bars put Kelly's life at risk. The filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago says sanitizer and even soap is hard to come by in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, with most of its 700 inmates held in small, two-man cells that make the kind of social distancing called for to thwart the transmission of COVID-19 impossible. it says the visiting floor has sanitizer, but a sign next to the single bottle available says, “STAFF ONLY;” and a bathroom on the same floor often has no soap.
UNDATED (AP) — Singapore has begun penalizing people who refuse to adhere to social distancing in the latest bid to curb the virus. Beginning Friday, anyone found standing in a queue, or sitting, less than a meter (3.3 feet) from another person in a public place can be jailed up to six months or fined up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($7,000), or both. The penalties also apply to malls, places of worship, funeral homes and some 55 attractions including museums that can stay open but must not allow groups of more than 10 people. Singapore has 683 cases of the coronavirus.
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