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Cali Murder Inc, A Colombian Drug Cartel War May Be Back

Expected to return to Cali after serving prison time, some old gangsters will find a 'new generation' of criminals running businesses in town. Will that mean trouble,

Packing marijuana in Toribio, Valle del Cauca, in the Cali region, Colombia
Packing marijuana in Toribio, Valle del Cauca, in the Cali region, Colombia
Boris Salazar

CALI — Does a recent spike in murders in the western Colombian city of Cali — 19 in one April weekend alone — mean the return of organized crime and drug trafficking to this city with a troubled past? Colombian Vice President Óscar Naranjo, a former police general, warned there could be an increase in murders in certain parts of Colombia, as 25 drug lords move home after a decade or more in prison in the United States.

Will Cali's new and old criminal gangs work together or initiate an even bloodier turf war?

This is a necessary warning as criminals do often return home and finish, well, unfinished business. Cali has an epicenter of drug trafficking in South America and has been home to organizations like the Cali Cartel dating back to the 1970s. The fall of the big cartels around the turn of the century paved the way for successor gangs who engage in both criminal and "respectable" activities: peddling drugs, as well as buying real-estate selling high-end cars, and loaning money.

Woman cutting buds of marijuana in order to prepare it for consumption — Photo: Nicolas Enriquez/ZUMA

It's believed this expansion of industry is reflected in the wider age range of recent victims. Before, crime victims were usually impoverished youths, but recently they have included professionals in their 30s or even older. Even still, much of the trouble is still centered around youth, sparking an effort from the city to place "vulnerable" youngsters into jobs or school and dismember gangs through its Strength Plan (Plan Fortaleza), which boosts police personnel, training and equipment. A big challenge remains in breaking the links between criminals' legal and illegal activities.

Meanwhile, as the authorities brace for a recurrence of killing sprees, the question remains: will Cali's new and old criminal gangs work together or initiate an even bloodier turf war?

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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