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TUES: Cowboys For Trump leader fighting to keep job in New Mexico, + More

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Morgan Lee
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Associated Press

Cowboys For Trump leader fighting to keep job in New Mexico - Associated Press

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin is fighting to keep his seat as a New Mexico county commissioner as he faces possible removal and disqualification from public office for his participation in last year's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Griffin was previously convicted of a misdemeanor for entering Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.

Three residents of Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Griffin from being commissioner of Otero County's 2nd district for the rest of his term.

Griffin, a 47-year-old Republican, is representing himself in the two-day bench trial that began Monday.

"This lawsuit is about removing a duly elected county commissioner from office through the civil court," Griffin said in court. "By allowing this case to move forward, you're going to set a very dangerous precedent."

On the witness stand Monday, Griffin said he went to Washington, D.C.' to peacefully protest and pray with other Trump supporters.

"I had no intention of breaking the law on that day," he said.

The three plaintiffs in the case argued in a 259-page petition that Griffin should be disqualified from holding public office on the basis of a clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment holds that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution be barred from office for engaging in insurrection or rebellion or giving aid or comfort to the nation's enemies.

UNM Health Sciences VP calls on lawmakers to consider solutions for vulnerable smokers – By Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico With nearly 3,000 smoking-related deaths annually, New Mexico’s Department of Health reports that commercial tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the state. Effects are even worse on people struggling with mental health.

Smoking tobacco increases relaxation and releases tension but causes various cancers and diseases, shortens lifespans and can add up financially. Dr. Douglas Ziedonis, executive vice president of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, spoke to the state’s Tobacco Settlement Revenue Oversight Committee on Monday about the negative consequences of tobacco or nicotine smokers who have behavioral health problems.

“We are not going to improve the health of all New Mexicans if we don’t address tobacco,” Ziedonis said. “We’re not going to improve the health of all New Mexicans if we don’t address behavioral health.”

The two are tied together, he said. Doctors discourage people who have physical diseases from smoking but don’t do the same for people with mental health issues or diseases, Ziedonis said, which doesn’t make sense on a scientific basis. The effects are negative either way, he said.

“If you have heart disease and smoke, your doctors are going to talk to you about smoking and get you to quit,” Ziedonis said. “Somehow if you have schizophrenia and you smoke, there’s lots of rationalizing, minimizing and denying.”

Research has shown that people with mental illness smoke more intensely, Ziedonis said, leading to a higher nicotine intake than the average person and, consequently, higher health risks.

And even without mental health issues to start with, smoking tobacco or nicotine increases suicidal risks, Ziedonis said. Researchers have found that nicotine can lower serotonin functions in the brain, which has led to links with smokers committing suicide. Ziedonis added that smoking also reduces options for employment, housing and even relationships.

Health care workers need to be adequately trained to address this subject for people struggling with behavioral health, Ziedonis said, from nurses to pharmacists and more. Counselors and peers can also be trained to help, he added.

Ziedonis also brought up the high number of youth smokers in the state. Although people must be 21 or older to purchase tobacco products, he said 32% of New Mexico’s high school students use tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. In comparison, 26% of New Mexican adults use tobacco products.

This is problematic for young adults, he said, because smoking often leads to other drug use and can cause behavioral issues later on in life. Co-chair Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces) asked if kids start using tobacco earlier than alcohol, and Ziedonis said though they may not always start tobacco usage earlier, they will get addicted much faster.

CESSATION AND PREVENTION

Smoking cessation strategies Ziedonis wants the state to employ include targeted media communications at populations more likely to smoke, partnerships between the state and private sectors and building community relationships.

There are 7  FDA-approved smoking cessation products, with some that include nicotine for people over 18 years old. But Ziedonis said most people aren’t taking big enough substitution doses in relation to how much nicotine they would take in smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes. “Most people just would just put on a patch and they way underdose,” he said.

But not everyone can even access these products. Ziedonis said pharmaceutical medicine in rural New Mexico isn’t readily available and needs to be addressed. “If you don’t live close to your pharmacy, your recovery rates are lower,” he said.

In addition to the efforts on smoking cessation, Ziedonis said, the state needs to focus on how to prevent nicotine addiction to begin with.

“Tobacco and nicotine are gateway drugs. Prevention is critical,” Ziedonis said. “Are we doing enough in this state, in this area, on such a solvable, preventable problem?”

He suggested taxing e-cigarettes like New Mexico does for regular cigarettes, which some other states already do. But Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque) brought up the argument she’s heard that people could still go to tribal land for cheaper products, so she said the committee should look at those sovereign rules as well.

Ziedonis also recommended educating the public on resources available to help quit smoking and helping parents learn what kind of paraphernalia is associated with tobacco products.

“It’s going to take the whole village, the whole team, to address this,” he said.

US West hit with water cuts but rebuffs call for deeper ones - By Sam Metz, Suman Naishadham And Kathleen Ronayne Associated Press

For the second year in a row, Arizona and Nevada will face cuts in the amount of water they can draw from the Colorado River as the West endures more drought, federal officials announced Tuesday.

The cuts planned for next year will force states to make critical decisions about where to reduce consumption and whether to prioritize growing cities or agricultural areas. Mexico will also face cuts.

But those reductions represent just a fraction of the potential pain to come for the 40 million Americans in seven states that rely on the river. Because the states failed to respond to a federal ultimatum to figure out how to cut their water use by at least 15%, they could face even deeper cuts that the government has said are needed to prevent reservoirs from falling so low they cannot be pumped.

"The states collectively have not identified and adopted specific actions of sufficient magnitude that would stabilize the system," Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said.

Together, the missed deadline and cuts place officials responsible for providing water to growing cities and farms under renewed pressure to plan for a hotter, drier future and a growing population.

Touton has said the additional 15% reduction is necessary to ensure that water deliveries and hydroelectric power are not disrupted. She was noncommittal on Tuesday about whether she planned to impose those cuts unilaterally if the states cannot reach agreement.

She emphasized partnership between federal officials and their counterparts in the seven states and Mexico, but repeatedly declined to say how much time the states will have to reach the deal she requested in June.

For years, cities and farms have diverted more water from the river than flows through it, depleting its reservoirs and raising questions about how it will be divided as water becomes more scarce.

After more than two decades of drought, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico were hit with mandatory cuts for the first time last year. Some of the region's farmers have been paid to leave their fields fallow, while residents of its growing cities have been subjected to conservation measures such as restrictions on grass lawns.

But those efforts thus far haven't been enough. The water level at Lake Mead, the nation's largest man-made reservoir, has plummeted so low that it's currently less than a quarter full and inching dangerously close to a point where not enough water would flow to produce hydropowever at the Hoover Dam on the Nevada-Arizona border.

For officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the cuts and the demand for additional reductions present new challenges and unpopular choices. Officials have been reluctant to propose more draconian water rationing measures or limits on development.

After putting last year's burden on the agricultural industry, Arizona officials will have to decide whether to spread this year's cut to growing cities that rely on the Colorado River, including Scottsdale and Peoria. The two cities get more than half of their water from the Colorado.

The cuts are not expected to have a tangible effect on Nevada, which has already implemented the region's most aggressive conservation policies, including grass bans and rebate programs.

Scorching temperatures and less melting snow in the spring have reduced the amount of water flowing from the Rocky Mountains, where the river originates before it snakes 1,450 miles southwest and into the Gulf of California.

Already, extraordinary steps have been taken this year to keep water in Lake Powell, the other large Colorado River reservoir, which sits upstream of Lake Mead and straddles the Arizona-Utah border. Water from the lake runs through Glen Canyon Dam, which produces enough electricity to power between 1 million and 1.5 million homes each year.

After water levels at Lake Powell reached levels low enough to threaten hydropower production, federal officials said they would hold back some water to ensure the dam could still produce energy. That water would normally flow to Lake Mead.

Under Tuesday's reductions, Arizona will lose slightly more water than it did this year, when 18% of its supply was cut. In 2023, it will lose an additional 3%, for a total 21% reduction from its initial allocation.

Tom Buschatzke, the director of the state's department of water resources, said he was disappointed that states were unwilling to commit to needed cuts as Arizona endures them year after year.

"It is unacceptable for Arizona to continue to carry a disproportionate burden of reductions for the benefit of others who have not contributed," he said in a statement.

Mexico will lose 7% of the water it receives each year from the river. Last year, it lost about 5%. The water is a lifeline for northern desert cities, including Tijuana and a large farm industry in the Mexicali Valley, just south of the border from California's Imperial Valley.

Nevada also will lose water — about 8% of its supply — but most residents will not feel the effects because the state recycles the majority of its water used indoors and doesn't use its full allocation. Last year, the state lost 7%.

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Naishadham reported from Washington. Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California.

Ex-Vegas teacher, pastor gets prison time in child sex case - Associated Press

A former Las Vegas elementary school teacher and church pastor has been sentenced to six to 15 years in prison and lifetime supervision as a sex offender after pleading guilty to a child sex crime.

Reynaldo Cruz Crespin, 59, apologized Monday before a Clark County District Court judge who rejected his lawyer's request for probation.

"If there was a case that warranted punishment, I believe this is that case," Judge Kathleen Delaney said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Crespin's attorney, Kevin Speed, declined Tuesday to comment.

Crespin was arrested in February in Albuquerque, New Mexico, more than a week after he was named in a warrant in Las Vegas on multiple charges including sexual assault involving children.

All but one lesser charge were dismissed when Crespin avoided trial and pleaded guilty in May to attempted lewdness with a child under 14.

KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported that Crespin taught second grade from 2016 until this year and was a pastor at New Horizon Christian Church in northeast Las Vegas. The television station said none of the charges related to his students.

The Review-Journal reported that Crespin and his wife founded the church in 2002. His wife sued in February to take custody of their children.

Illegal border crossings fall in July but remain high - Associated Press

Migrants were stopped fewer times at the U.S. border with Mexico in July than in June, authorities said Monday, a second straight monthly decline.

Flows were still unusually high, particularly among nationalities less affected by Title 42, a pandemic-era rule that denies migrants legal rights to seek asylum on grounds of preventing spread of COVID-19. In theory, Title 42 applies to all nationalities but costs, diplomatic relations and others considerations usually dictate who is expelled under the public health authority.

U.S. authorities stopped migrants 199,976 times in July, down 3.8% from 207,933 in June and down 6.8% from 213,593% in July 2021, Customs and Border Protection said.

"While the encounter numbers remain high, this is a positive trend and the first two-month drop since October 2021," said Commissioner Chris Magnus.

Authorities stopped Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans less in July than in June. Mexico has agreed to take people from all those countries who are expelled under Title 42, a relatively easy task for Border Patrol agents due to Mexico's proximity.

People from countries more likely to be released in the U.S. on humanitarian parole or with notices to appear in immigration court were stopped more often. Border Patrol agents stopped Venezuelans 17,603 times in July, up 34% from June and nearly triple from July 2021.

Cubans were stopped 20,080 times by Border Patrol agents, up 25% from June and nearly six times from June 2021. Colombians were also stopped more often.

Del Rio, Texas, was again the busiest corridor for illegal crossings among the Border Patrol's nine sectors on the Mexico border, with agents stopping migrants 49,563 times in July. Texas' Rio Grande Valley, which had long been the busiest, was a distant second with 35,180 stops.

Medical investigator rules Baldwin set shooting an accident - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin last year was an accident, according to a determination made by New Mexico's Office of the Medical Investigator following the completion of an autopsy and a review of law enforcement reports.

The medical investigator's report was made public Monday by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office along with numerous reports from the FBI on the revolver and ammunition that were collected following the shooting.

Prosecutors have not yet decided if any charges will be filed in the case, saying they would review the latest reports and were awaiting cell phone data from Baldwin's attorneys.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when it went off on Oct. 21, killing Hutchins and wounding the director, Joel Souza. They had been inside a small church during setup for filming a scene.

While it's too early to say how much weight the medical investigator's report will carry with the district attorney's office, Baldwin's legal team suggested it was further proof that the shooting was "a tragic accident" and that he should not face criminal charges.

"This is the third time the New Mexico authorities have found that Alec Baldwin had no authority or knowledge of the allegedly unsafe conditions on the set, that he was told by the person in charge of safety on the set that the gun was 'cold,' and believed the gun was safe," attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement.

Baldwin said in a December interview with ABC News that he was pointing the gun at Hutchins at her instruction on the set of the Western film "Rust" when it went off after he cocked it. He said he did not pull the trigger.

An FBI analysis of the revolver that Baldwin had in his hand during the rehearsal suggested it was in working order at the time and would not have discharged unless it was fully cocked and the trigger was pulled.

With the hammer in full cock position, the FBI report stated the gun could not be made to fire without pulling the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional.

During the testing of the gun by the FBI, authorities said, portions of the gun's trigger sear and cylinder stop fractured while the hammer was struck. That allowed the hammer to fall and the firing pin to detonate the primer.

"This was the only successful discharge during this testing and it was attributed to the fracture of internal components, not the failure of the firearm or safety mechanisms," the report stated.

It was unclear from the FBI report how many times the revolver's hammer may have been struck during the testing.

Baldwin, who also was a producer on the movie "Rust," has previously said the gun should not have been loaded for the rehearsal.

Among the ammunition seized from the film location were live rounds found on a cart and in the holster that was in the building where the shooting happened. Blank and dummy cartridges also were found.

New Mexico's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau in a scathing report issued in April detailed a narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set prior to the fatal shooting.

The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.

In reaching its conclusion that the shooting was an accident, New Mexico's medical investigator's office pointed to "the absence of obvious intent to cause harm or death" and stated that there was said "no compelling demonstration" that the revolver was intentionally loaded with live ammunition on the set.

Tree falling on power lines blamed in fatal New Mexico fire - Associated Press

An investigation has determined that a tree falling in power lines started a fatal fire that also destroyed more than 200 homes in the Ruidoso area four months ago, according to a newspaper.

The Albuquerque Journal said a report issued by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department states that wind gusts of up to 80 mph toppled a 49-foot-tall drought-stressed tree on April 12, causing electrical lines to arc and ignite the fire.

The following day, authorities reported finding the remains of an elderly couple who died while trying to evacuate their burning home.

The fire has spawned two lawsuits filed on behalf of dozens of Ruidoso property owners.

The suit alleges that the Public Service Company of New Mexico and a contractor caused the fire by failing to properly maintain trees and vegetation near its power lines.

PNM has denied any fault or wrongdoing, saying the tree that struck the electrical lines was located outside of the company's right-of-way.

Son of suspect in Muslim slayings to remain in custody - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

The son of an Afghan refugee suspected in the shooting deaths of four Muslim men in New Mexico will remain in custody pending trial on a charge that he allegedly provided a false address on a form when purchasing a gun last year.

Shaheen Syed, 21, appeared in U.S. district court in Albuquerque on Monday, with the judge granting a motion by federal prosecutors to keep him behind bars pending the ongoing investigation.

In their motion, prosecutors pointed to cellphone records that they say show Syed possibly helped his father track Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old man from Pakistan who was fatally shot on Aug. 5 in the parking lot of a refugee resettlement agency in southeast Albuquerque.

"The evidence that agents have been able to gather thus far in this rapidly unfolding investigation is obviously alarming with respect to the defendant's short and frequent communications with his father both before and after the murder of Naeem Hussain," the motion stated.

Albuquerque police have charged Muhammad Syed, 51, with murder in the deaths of Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain. Hussein, 41, was slain on the night of July 26 after parking his car in the usual spot near his home. Afzaal Hussain, a 27-year-old urban planner who had worked on the campaign of a New Mexico congresswoman, was gunned down on the night of Aug. 1 while taking his evening walk.

The elder Syed is the primary suspect — but hasn't been charged — in the death of Naeem Hussain and the slaying of Muhammad Zahir Ahmadi, a 62-year-old Afghan immigrant who was fatally shot in the head last November behind the market he owned in the city.

Court documents filed in federal court provided more details about Naeem Hussain's killing, saying it appeared he had been followed to Lutheran Family Services, the resettlement agency, following funeral services for two of the other shooting victims. Shots were fired at his SUV around 4 p.m., striking him in the head and the arm.

Prosecutors claim that Shaheen Syed spoke with his father when his phone was somewhere in the general area of the Islamic Center of New Mexico and soon after his father's phone pinged in an area that included Lutheran Family Services.

After Hussain was fatally shot, Shaheen Syed's phone moved to an area closer to the crime scene, according to the motion. Ten minutes after the shooting, the motion states the men shared a second call as their phones remained in the "general area of the murder."

Syed's attorney argued that prosecutors gave no indication of the size of the area that his phone was in relative to the shooting.

The Syed family home is a few minutes drive from both the Islamic Center and Lutheran Family Services.

John Anderson, Shaheen Syed's attorney, did not return messages seeking comment but said in court filings that the allegations against his client were "thin and speculative."

"The United States' motion boils down to an effort to detain defendant for a crime with which he has not even been charged," Anderson argued, referring to the slayings of the Muslim men.

Anderson also included a photo of a Florida driver's license issued to Shaheen Syed in 2021, contradicting prosecutors' claims that he misrepresented himself as a Florida resident while making a purchase at an Albuquerque gun store.

Prosecutors also presented prior police reports of Shaheen Syed allegedly beating his father and sister and an unrelated incident in which he and his brother were allegedly involved in a shooting outside a Walmart.

Court documents state that two guns purchased by Syed and his father at an Albuquerque gun store in July had been partially painted white. The guns were seized during a search of the family's home; and testing determined bullet casings found at the July 25 and Aug. 1 shootings matched the rifle that belonged to Muhammad Syed.

Casings found at one of the crime scenes also matched a handgun found in the elder Syed's vehicle when he was taken into custody, according to a criminal complaint.

Muhammad Syed is scheduled to appear before a state district judge Wednesday as prosecutors seek to have him detained without bond pending trial on the two counts of murder.

Colorado River cuts expected for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico - By Suman Naishadham And Sam Metz Associated Press

The federal government on Tuesday is expected to announce water cuts to states that rely on the Colorado River as drought and climate change leave less water flowing through the river and deplete the reservoirs that store it.

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people across seven states in the American West as well as Mexico and helps feed an agricultural industry valued at $15 billion a year. Cities and farms across the region are anxiously awaiting official hydrology projections — estimates of future water levels in the river — that will determine the extent and scope of cuts to their water supply.

Water officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are expecting federal officials to project Lake Mead — located on the Nevada-Arizona border and the largest manmade reservoir in the U.S. — to shrink to dangerously low levels that could disrupt water delivery and hydropower production and cut the amount of water allocated to Arizona and Nevada, as well as Mexico.

And that's not all: Officials from the states are also scrambling to meet a deadline imposed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to slash their water use by at least 15% in order to keep water levels at the river's storage reservoirs from dropping even more.

Together, the projections and the deadline for cuts are presenting Western states with unprecedented challenges and confronting them with difficult decisions about how to plan for a drier future.

While the Bureau of Reclamation is "very focused on just getting through this to next year," any cutbacks will likely need to be in place far longer, said University of Oxford hydrologist Kevin Wheeler.

"What contribution the science makes is, it's pretty clear that these reductions just have to have to stay in place until the drought has ended or we realize they actually have to get worse and the cuts have to get deeper," he said.

The cuts expected to be announced Tuesday are based on a plan the seven states as well as Mexico signed in 2019 to help maintain reservoir levels. Under that plan, the amount of water allocated to states depends on the water levels at Lake Mead. Last year, the lake fell low enough for the federal government to declare a first-ever water shortage in the region, triggering mandatory cuts for Arizona and Nevada as well as Mexico in 2022.

Officials expect hydrologists will project the lake to fall further, triggering additional cuts to Nevada, Arizona and Mexico next year. States with higher priority water rights are not expected to see cuts.

Reservoir levels have been falling for years — and faster than experts predicted — due to 22 years of drought worsened by climate change and overuse of the river. Scorching temperatures and less melting snow in the spring have reduced the amount of water flowing from the Rocky Mountains, where the river originates before it snakes 1,450 miles southwest and into the Gulf of California.

Already, extraordinary steps have been taken this year to keep water in Lake Powell, the other large Colorado River reservoir, which sits upstream of Lake Mead and straddles the Arizona-Utah border. Water from the lake runs through Glen Canyon Dam, which produces enough electricity to power between 1 million and 1.5 million homes each year.

After water levels at Lake Powell reached levels low enough to threaten hydropower production, federal officials said they would hold back an additional 480,000 acre-feet of water to ensure the dam could still produce energy. That water would normally course to Lake Mead.

Under Tuesday's reductions, Arizona is expected to lose slightly more water than it did this year, when 18% of its supply was cut. In 2023, it will lose an additional 3%, an aggregate 21% reduction from its initial allocation. Farmers in central Arizona will largely shoulder the cuts, as they did this year.

Mexico is expected to lose 7% of the 1.5 million acre-feet it receives each year from the river. Last year, it lost about 5%. The water is a lifeline for northern desert cities including Tijuana and a large farm industry in the Mexicali Valley, just south of the border from California's Imperial Valley.

Nevada is also set to lose water — about 8% of its supply — but most residents will not feel the effects because the state recycles the majority of its water used indoors and doesn't use its full allocation. Last year, the state lost 7%.

Illegal border crossings fall in July but remain high - Associated Press

Migrants were stopped fewer times at the U.S. border with Mexico in July than in June, authorities said Monday, a second straight monthly decline.

Flows were still unusually high, particularly among nationalities less affected by Title 42, a pandemic-era rule that denies migrants legal rights to seek asylum on grounds of preventing spread of COVID-19. In theory, Title 42 applies to all nationalities but costs, diplomatic relations and others considerations usually dictate who is expelled under the public health authority.

U.S. authorities stopped migrants 199,976 times in July, down 3.8% from 207,933 in June and down 6.8% from 213,593% in July 2021, Customs and Border Protection said.

"While the encounter numbers remain high, this is a positive trend and the first two-month drop since October 2021," said Commissioner Chris Magnus.

Authorities stopped Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans less in July than in June. Mexico has agreed to take people from all those countries who are expelled under Title 42, a relatively easy task for Border Patrol agents due to Mexico's proximity.

People from countries more likely to be released in the U.S. on humanitarian parole or with notices to appear in immigration court were stopped more often. Border Patrol agents stopped Venezuelans 17,603 times in July, up 34% from June and nearly triple from July 2021.

Cubans were stopped 20,080 times by Border Patrol agents, up 25% from June and nearly six times from June 2021. Colombians were also stopped more often.

Del Rio, Texas, was again the busiest corridor for illegal crossings among the Border Patrol's nine sectors on the Mexico border, with agents stopping migrants 49,563 times in July. Texas' Rio Grande Valley, which had long been the busiest, was a distant second with 35,180 stops.

Coroner: Central Illinois plane crash killed Santa Fe couple

A coroner Monday identified a Santa Fe, New Mexico, couple as the two people killed when a single-engine plane crashed on a roadway in central Illinois.

Killed in the crash Saturday in the small community of Hanna City were 75-year-old pilot James Everson and 67-year-old Lisa Evanson, Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said.

An initial report from the Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft "experienced engine issues" and attempted an emergency landing on Illinois Route 116 before striking powerlines, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

The aircraft, a Mooney M20K, crashed about 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating the crash.

Hanna City is about 180 miles southwest of Chicago.

Mexico's week of drug violence shakes administration - By Elliot Spagat And Fabiola Sánchez Associated Press

Days of widespread drug cartel arson and shootings in four states last week have left Mexicans asking why the drug cartels exploded and what do they want.

The attacks killed 11 people, including a young boy and four radio station employees who were randomly shot on the streets of the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, on Thursday.

Two days earlier, more than two dozen convenience stores owned by a well-known national chain were set ablaze in the northern state of Guanajuato. Cars and buses were commandeered and burned in neighboring Jalisco state. And two dozen vehicles were hijacked and set on fire in cities on the California border Friday.

The federal government deployed soldiers and National Guard troops to calm residents' fears, but the outbursts of violence raised questions about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's approach of putting all responsibility for security in the hands of the military rather than civilian police forces.

Some were quick to brand the arson and shooting attacks as terrorism, while the government denied it. Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López said, "They are not terrorist attacks; you don't have to exaggerate the facts."

But it is not clear what the goal was.

"I think that the orders that were given to these gunmen was to cause chaos," said Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope. "Generate chaos, generate uncertainty, generate fear, shoot at anything that moves. That is something that generates terror."

But, Hope added: "Terrorism implies a political goal. I don't know what the political goal is in this case."

López Obrador suggested Monday the attacks were part of a political conspiracy against him by opponents that he describes as "conservatives" and he argued that "there is no big problem" with security.

"I don't know if there was a connection, a hidden hand, if this had been set up," he said. "What I do know is that our opponents, the corrupt conservatives, help in the black propaganda."

Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said later that the cartels had lashed out because they have been weakened. "They want to still feel like they're strong and they generate violent situations where by way of publicity they send messages that they are still strong," he said.

Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero sounded very different when she issued a strange public appeal Friday to the cartels to stop targeting innocent civilians.

"Today we are saying to the organized crime groups that are committing these crimes that Tijuana is going to remain open and take care of its citizens," Caballero said in a video. "And we also ask them to settle their debts with those who didn't pay what they owe, not with families and hard-working citizens."

The streets of central Tijuana were busy Monday after an unusually quiet weekend of canceled medical appointments and closed restaurants.

On Monday morning, pedestrians waited more than three hours to enter the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing connecting Tijuana and San Diego. There was no visible stepped-up security presence in central Tijuana.

Omar García, who runs a clothing souvenir stand near the border crossing in Tijuana, said tourism evaporated over the weekend. He was encouraged by Monday's heavy traffic but said the violence could turn into an economic jolt to his business.

"They are blows that come occasionally," said García, 34, who has sold souvenirs at the border crossing since he was a young boy. "We are 100% dependent on tourism. If they get scared, they don't come."

José Andrés Sumano Rodríguez, a professor and security specialist at the Northern Border College in Matamoros, a city on the border with Texas, said the decision of targeting civilians was a considered one.

The cartels "have learned that when they pressure on the side of generating terror and attacks on civilians, it gives them good results," he said. "Often it is much more effective to do this than have direct confrontation with the armed forces, where they are almost always going to lose."

For security analyst David Saucedo, the attacks were "narco terrorism," and he said the Jalisco New Generation Cartel was behind the violence in the states of Guanajuato and Baja California.

Saucedo said there has been a change in Mexico's drug policy since last year, when soldiers at roadside bases simply watched as cartels battled for control of the western state of Michoacan with bomb-dropping drones, IEDs and land mines.

Saucedo said the change may have angered the cartels.

Mexico has made more attempts to capture drug lords, something López Obrador previously said he wasn't interested in. Mexican marines captured fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero in July after years on the run for the 1985 killing of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena.

And Mexico's seizures of meth labs and the synthetic opioid fentanyl have risen sharply in recent months.

"There has been a change in the strategy in fighting drug cartels. Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) has been very much criticized recently for his 'hugs, not bullets' strategy," Saucedo said. "I think that due to pressure from Joe Biden, he is changing that and agreeing to capture high-profile drug traffickers."

The spark that set off the chaos in Jalisco and Guanajuato last week was apparently the military coming upon a meeting involving a boss from the Jalisco cartel. Sandoval, the defense secretary, said the soldiers hadn't known about it and were just trying to intercept a cartel convoy.

"The narco terrorism of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is a reaction to the president's change in strategy," Saucedo said. "If the Mexican president continues with this strategy of capturing high-ranking members of the Jalisco cartel, the Jalisco cartel is going to respond with acts of narcoterrorism in the states it controls as part of its vast empire."

Sandoval said there has been no change in strategy.

"It's not that we're looking for the leader ... it's not that operations are centered on certain levels of the organization," he said.

"We have to know where to employ that force, where to use it, the quantity of people we have to send to reinforce, the specific places and know where we have to act to be able to guarantee security," Sandoval said.

He denied the government was not being reactive, noting that in 19 of Mexico's 32 states the National Guard already has superior numbers to state authorities. "It is part of a strategy that is already laid out and that we are going to apply accordingly."

There have been such terrorist acts before. In June of last year, a faction of the Gulf cartel entered Reynosa on the border with Texas and killed 14 people authorities identified as "innocent citizens," as part of a bid to unseat a rival faction that controlled Reynosa.

Ana Vanessa Cardenas, coordinator of the international relations program at Anahuac Mayab University in Merida, said that with any other president half the security Cabinet would have been ousted, there would be consultations with international experts and work would be underway on new security strategy. But she expects no change from López Obrador, who she considers to be in denial.

"We've seen a total militarization of security and of the country, which is the last rung," Cardenas said. "If having already reached the last rung in security we have an increase in violence, in murders, in narco control, then where do we go?"