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Costa Rica seizes U.S.-owned center for troubled youth

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 23, 2003

MEXICO CITY - The Costa Rican authorities moved on Thursday to seize an American-owned behavior-modification center for children after hearing allegations of physical and emotional abuse, officials said.

Parents and program officials described a chaotic scene at the site, the Academy at Dundee Ranch, where about 200 children, ages 11 to 17, almost all of them Americans, lived in a former hotel under a strict regimen.

They said 30 to 50 children had run away or fled into the custody of Costa Rican officials after the officials told them they could not be held at the academy against their will.

The Academy at Dundee Ranch is one of four foreign-based programs under the banner of Utah's World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, or WWASPS. Its programs, aimed at troubled teenagers and their parents, have faced licensing and legal challenges in the United States and abroad.

Japanese man breaks age record on Mount Everest

KATMANDU, Nepal - A 70-year-old former professional skier from Japan on Thursday became the oldest man to climb Mount Everest, and an Indian-Nepalese army team reached the peak along the original route of Sir Edmund Hillary a half-century ago.

Dozens more climbers headed toward the summit to mark next week's 50th anniversary of the first conquest of the world's highest mountain by Hillary and Nepalese guide Tenzing Norgay.

Yuichiro Miura, accompanied by his 33-year-old son, a Japanese cameraman and six Sherpa guides, reached the 29,035-foot summit after a nine-hour ascent, his office in Tokyo said.

Jury hears confessions in Ochoa drug case

MIAMI - The 12-year-old confessions of former Colombian druglord Fabio Ochoa were offered Thursday to jurors hearing charges that he got back into the cocaine business after serving a prison term and winning amnesty for his past.

In 23 pages, Ochoa summarized his history of drug dealings from age 16 to the years he was accused of being a kingpin in the now-defunct Medellin cartel, an organization that he denied existed.

The prosecution rested after reading the statements. The defense called two low-key witnesses and is considering calling a Colombian cocaine supplier when the trial resumes Tuesday. Closing arguments will follow.

Bodies of 11 migrants who died in Texas go home

MEXICO CITY - The bodies of 11 of 19 illegal migrants who died after being locked in a sweltering truck trailer and abandoned in South Texas arrived in Mexico City late Thursday.

Mexican air force personnel unloaded the metal coffins from a C-130 Hercules transport plane and put them in hearses.

The bodies were then brought to the military wing of Mexico City's international airport - an area off-limits to the media - where it appeared a small group of relatives had gathered to claim them. Later the bodies were to be flown to the victims' hometowns for burial.

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