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Plane crash kills dozens in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan (CBS) - A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and the transport minister said 47 people were dead.

Another 11 people were injured when the ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways crashed on Penghu, an island in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih was quoted as saying by the government's Central News Agency. The plane was arriving from Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan.

The twin-engine turboprop plane crashed while making a second landing attempt with a total of 58 passengers and crew members aboard, according to Yeh.

The news agency had earlier quoted a local fire chief as saying 51 people had been killed.

The plane crashed in the village of Xixi outside the airport. Photos in local media showed firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness, and buildings and cars damaged by debris.

About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the Central News Agency.

The ministry said military vehicles and ambulances were rushing people to hospitals and an air force rescue team was on standby to transfer survivors to Taiwan's main island if needed for treatment, the agency reported.

The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.

Visibility as the plane approached was one mile, which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed before GE222, one at 5:34 p.m. and the other at 6:57 p.m., the aviation agency reported.

But the Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt.

News of Wednesday's crash came as military transport planes carrying coffins bearing victims of last week's downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 landed in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. That crash killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Malaysia Airlines posted a message to Twitter conveying the carrier's concern for the TransAsia victims.

Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo early Tuesday morning, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain through the evening, even after the center of the storm had moved west to mainland China.

Shen said the plane was 14 years old.

In October 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

Man arrested in connection with vehicle, church burglaries
One man is behind bars in connection with vehicle and church burglaries in the Buna area.

Korbin Killen was involved in a burglary of the New Cherry Grove Baptist Church in the Gist community near Buna.

During the investigation, deputies found an abandoned vehicle belonging to another man wanted in connection with the same burglary.

Investigators have issued a warrant for his arrest and additional charges are pending.

Brazoria County man sentenced in connection with drug trafficking
Department of Justice
United States Attorney John M. Bales
Eastern District of Texas
News Release

BEAUMONT, Texas – The organizer and leader of a large scale drug trafficking ring responsible for moving multi-kilogram quantities of illegal drugs from Mexico to the United States has been sentenced to federal prison in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Alejandro “Alex” Gonzales, 36, of Alvin, Texas, pleaded guilty on Jan. 30, 2014 to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute over 5 kilograms of cocaine, over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, and over 500 grams of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 270 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.

According to information presented in court, Gonzales began acquiring multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine from drug cartel suppliers in Mexico sometime in the late 2000’s.  Those narcotics were subsequently smuggled into the United States and transported to Alvin, Texas for distribution.  Gonzales and other members of the drug ring coordinated the sale of those narcotics to customers located in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and New Jersey.

On Aug. 8, 2013, a federal grand jury returned a six-count second superseding indictment against Gonzales and 27 other codefendants, charging them with numerous federal drug trafficking conspiracy and firearm violations. 

During the course of the investigation, state and federal agents successfully arrested 40 individuals and seized large quantities of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, $766,577 in U.S. currency, 30 vehicles, a boat, three residences, and 25 firearms. This case was the result of an extensive two and a half year joint investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. 

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Galveston Resident Office, the Miami and Houston Division Offices, the McAllen District Office, and the Dickinson Police Department, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, Marine Interdiction Agency, Texas Department of Public Safety, Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, and Jefferson County (Texas) Sheriff’s Offices, and the police departments of Alvin, Beaumont, Galveston, Houston, League City, Pasadena, and Pearland, Texas.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Baylor Wortham and Michelle Englade.

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