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Two Baggage Handlers Acquitted

March 1, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ Two baggage handlers who were among 58 suspects charged with drug smuggling in a federal sting last year were acquitted after defense lawyers argued they were victims of an overzealous informant.

Pablo Carmona and Clifford Rivas were the second and third defendants cleared in the federal investigation of American Airlines baggage handlers and Sky Chef airline caterers.

During the four-day trial that ended Tuesday, Rivas’ attorney Kathleen Grilli said the government’s confidential informant pursued her client for months at Miami International Airport.

John ``Jack″ O’Donnell, Carmona’s attorney, said the informant, identified as Orlando Mayoli, threatened his client, implying he would be shot if he refused to smuggle the drugs.

A third defendant, Edwin Rodriguez, was acquitted in January. He also said an informant threatened him.

At least 37 suspects arrested in the August sting have pleaded guilty, and five others have been convicted, U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman Rosa Rodriguez said. The rest of the cases are pending.

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