Rebel Leader Convicted On Drug Charges by U.S. A federal jury in Washington yesterday convicted a Colombian peasant who rose to become the financial chief of a powerful squadron of leftist guerrillas on drug conspiracy charges.

Nayibe Rojas is the first high-ranking member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- FARC, in its Spanish initials -- whom a U.S. federal court has convicted of drug-running, although the U.S. and Colombian governments long have alleged that FARC was deeply involved in every facet of Colombia's cocaine industry.

Prosecutors cast Rojas, also known as Sonia, as a gun-toting senior FARC official who gathered coca base from farmers and sold it to refiners and traffickers, who then sent more than five tons of cocaine to the United States.

The jury also convicted two co-defendants, Jose Antonio Celis and Juan Diego Giraldo. Celis and Giraldo were not members of FARC, but the prosecutors argued that all three had conspired on the drug deal. The three face prison terms of up to 30 years. Sentencing was scheduled for May 7.

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· CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison for starving her 5-year-old handicapped son, who weighed just 15 pounds when he was found in a playpen infested with cockroaches and lice. Judy Gratton, 49, was convicted in January of assault and other offenses.

· SACRAMENTO -- A judge threw out Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to transfer thousands of inmates to other states to relieve prison overcrowding. Schwarzenegger said he would immediately appeal, saying dangerous convicts might otherwise have to be released early.

· DALLAS --Dallas County officials approved a nearly $1 million settlement with the families of three mentally ill inmates who were denied medication while in the nation's seventh-largest detention complex. Just over half of the award went to a jail inmate whose psychiatric medications were withheld for two months in 2004, his attorney said.

· EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Men who say they were drugged and raped by an Air Force officer lied to avoid being revealed as gay in the military, a defense attorney told a military jury. Prosecutors said Capt. Devery L. Taylor, former chief of patient administration at Eglin Regional Hospital, met his victims in bars, spiked their drinks and kidnapped them. Taylor, 38, has pleaded not guilty to raping four men and attempting to rape two others.

-- From News Services