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Mexico Protests New U.S. Abduction of Suspect

June 18, 1992

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexico is protesting the abduction of a fugitive who was grabbed and taken to the United States shortly before a U.S. court ruling approving a similar abduction jarred U.S.-Mexican ties.

The protest, filed late Wednesday with the State Department, called for the return of Teodoro Romulo Lopez, saying he was ″illegally″ taken from Mexico on Saturday, the official Notimex news agency reported today.

The protest note said Mexico ″would under no circumstances ... allow incursions″ on its territory by any American agents of any kind and called for punishment of those involved and an explanation from Washington.

U.S. authorities say two private investigators working for a bail bonds company seized 35-year-old Romulo Lopez and took him to the Naco border crossing at the Arizona border, 100 miles southeast of Tucson.

The investigators told U.S. Customs agents they arrested Romulo Lopez on a warrant for jumping bail. U.S. agents verified the warrant and took Romulo Lopez into custody, said Steve Rich, director of the Naco port of entry.

Romulo Lopez was then jailed in a federal prison in Tucscon, where he was convicted in absentia in November 1991 of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Authorities say he tried to sell 12 pounds of cocaine to drug agents.

Mexico briefly suspended anti-drug cooperation with Washington after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the United States could seize people in a foreign country who are wanted for prosecution in the United States.

That case stemmed from the 1990 abduction in Guadalajara of Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machian, a suspect in the 1985 torture-slaying of U.S. drug agent Enrique Camarena. Alvarez was spirited to the United States to stand trial.

The ruling has provoked international condemnation, with several governments saying they would prosecute anyone involved in such abductions.

The report of Romulo Lopez’s abduction in Mexico came out just hours after the government said the Bush government had promised not to use the ruling as a license to seize suspects in Mexico.

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