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Mexico Jail Frees Old U.S. Man

June 14, 2001

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) _ A Mexican judge dropped the charges Wednesday against an 81-year-old man with prostate cancer who waged a hunger strike following his arrest for buying large amounts of valium without a prescription.

George Paul Murl was arrested May 24 as he left a pharmacy in the border city of Tijuana. Mexican police said he did not have a valid prescription for the 600 Valium pills he purchased.

Murl faced federal charges of drug trafficking that carry a prison term of up to five years, but supporters said Murl would die if kept in detention.

Officials said Oxnard, Calif., and Akron, Ohio, are both listed as Murl’s hometown.

Murl, a World War II Navy veteran, often drove down to Tijuana to visit friends and buy prescription drugs at Mexico’s cheaper prices. Scores of pharmacies near the border cater to U.S. customers. Arrests for illegally buying certain drugs are fairly common.

Murl waged a hunger strike until he was admitted to a hospital at the beginning of this month. Doctors finally persuaded him to accept basic nutrients needed to prevent his condition from worsening.

A spokesman from the Mexican Attorney General’s office said authorities did not oppose Murl’s release given his age and poor health.

He was driven to a hospital in San Diego on Wednesday afternoon by the minister, David Walden.

``It’s a miracle,″ Walden said. ``It’s amazing how the Mexican government showed a lot of compassion for this guy.″

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