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Judge grants Ruiz Massieu attorneys permission to question Raul Salinas

March 1, 1997

HOUSTON (AP) _ Attorneys in a drug money case involving a former Mexican government official have won the right to question the jailed brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gotari.

A source, speaking only on condition of anonymity, told The Associated press Friday that U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas had granted the request by attorneys for Mario Ruiz Massieu, a former deputy attorney general in Mexico who is charged with violating U.S. currency law.

Both sides in the case _ Ruiz Massieu’s defense attorneys and the federal prosecutors working to confiscate $9 million deposited at a Houston bank in Ruiz Massieu’s name _ refused to discuss the matter.

However, in an order to be made publicly available on Monday, Atlas granted a defense request to take a deposition from Raul Salinas de Gotari, the source confirmed.

No other details about the deposition _ where and when it would be done _ was available.

Raul Salinas is awaiting trial on charges of murder and financial misconduct in Mexico. He was arrested in February 1995 on charges of masterminding the 1994 slaying of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, Mario’s brother and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party’s No. 2 man.

On March 10, federal prosecutors will try to prove that the Texas Commerce Bank account opened by Ruiz Massieu on Dec. 2, 1993, was filled with bribes from Mexican drug traffickers and rightfully belongs to the United States.

Calls to federal prosecutors handling the Ruiz Massieu case _ Susan Kempner and Jesse Rodriguez were not returned. Earlier Friday, U.S. Attorney Gaynelle Griffin Jones declined to discuss any aspect of the case.

Defense attorney Tony Canales did not return an AP phone call and defense attorney Cathy Fleming refused to comment.

Since Raul Salinas’ arrest, officials have found more than $100 million in foreign bank accounts bearing his name. Through a lawyer, Raul Salinas has denied any relation to drug traffickers.

His arrest came just days before custom agents detained Ruiz Massieu on a currency reporting charge as he was attempting to fly to Spain from Newark International Airport in New Jersey.

Prosecutors contend the more than $9 million _ often delivered to Texas Commerce in Houston in plastic-wrapped bundles of $20 bills _ came from bribes Ruiz Massieu received from former Gulf Cartel chieftain Juan Garcia Abrego and other drug traffickers. Garcia Abrego is serving a life sentence in the United States.

Ruiz Massieu claims the money is part of his extended family’s fortune and was earned in real estate and other legitimate businesses.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that prosecutors have recruited the longtime private secretary to Raul Salinas Lozano, father of the former Mexican president, as a witness at Ruiz Massieu’s civil trial on March 10.

The woman, Magdalena Ruiz Pelayo, has told U.S. authorities that Salinas Lozano was a leading figure in narcotics dealings that also involved Raul Salinas and Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, The New York Times said.

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