11 State Policemen Charged in Beating of US Drug Agent
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Eleven Jalisco state policemen have been charged with beating a U.S. narcotics agent in Guadalajara, the federal Attorney General’s office said Tuesday.
It issued a statement saying the policemen were charged with abuse of authority and injuring Victor Cortez Jr., a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, after he was taken into custody Aug. 13.
None of the 11 is believed to be in custody, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said late Tuesday.
The United States has lodged a diplomatic protest with Mexico, claiming Cortez was subjected to ″unprovoked, brutal and criminal acts″ while in custody in Guadalajara, 360 miles northwest of Mexico City.
DEA authorities said Cortez, freed at the insistence of U.S. officials who saw him being taken away by Mexican police, was beaten and tortured with an electric cattle prod. Cortez is now in the United States.
The statement from the Attorney General’s office said nothing about the alleged use of the cattle prod.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Pete Martinez said the department would have no immediate comment on the Attorney General’s announcement.
Spokesmen for the Attorney General’s office originally denied Cortez was beaten.
But Gerardo Perez Alvarez, a former Jalisco policeman, and three other men under arrest at the time Cortez and his companion, Antonio Garate Bustamante, were in custody said they ″had knowledge of the bad treatment″ by the policemen, the statement said. Gerate Bustamante also has returned to the United States.
Local reporters in Guadalajara obtained the report of an Aug. 14 examination by a Red Cross physician, which was filed with state authorities. They said it reported there were ″light contusions apparently produced by a sharp instrument on the abdomen and right shoulder″ of Cortez.
Federal prosecutors asked District Judge Oscar Vazquez Marin of Guadalajara, who is handling the case, to obtain statements from Cortez and Garate Bustamante, according to the Attorney General’s statement.
Investigations by state and federal authorities found that Cortez was stopped while in a car with Garate Bustamante, the statement said. The car lacked an identification decal and bore license plates of another vehicle, it said.
Two of the policemen, Salvador Salas Castaneda and Anselmo Pulido Galvan, testified they took Cortez to police headquarters after Garate Bustamante, who was carrying a pistol, opened the glove compartment to get vehicle identification papers and they saw an automatic weapon in the compartment.
The policeman also testified that they found in the trunk a semi-automatic rifle and an Uzi submachine gun, both weapons that can legally be used in Mexico only by the armed forces. The Attorney General’s statement said that Garate Bustamante, a citizen of Mexico, was a former Guadalajara city policeman dismissed in January 1982 after he was charged with extortion. The judge in the case released him two months later. He was jailed in March for violating health laws, which usually involves narcotics-related offenses, and later released, but that case is pending, the statement said.
At the time of his detention with Cortez, local news reports said Garate Bustamante was a DEA informant.
Another DEA agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar, and a pilot who worked with him were kidnapped in Guadalajara Feb. 7, 1985. Their brutally beaten bodies were found a month later.
Reputed drug barons Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca are among those awaiting trial in the case.
A former federal police commander in Guadalajara, Armando Pavon Reyes, was sentenced to four years in prison this month on charges he took a $300,000 bribe from Caro Quintero and allowed him to flee the city two days after the kidnapping.
Six state judicial policemen and a former policeman were among those originally charged in connection with the case.