Former President’s Name Placed on US Immigration “Lookout List”,
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The name of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari was placed last week on a Treasury Department ``lookout list″ often used to prevent criminals from entering U.S. territory, officials said Tuesday.
Salinas’ name was ordered placed on the list by a U.S. Customs attache in Mexico City with the instruction that he not be detained and that he be allowed to enter the country normally, the officials said.
Salinas left Mexico earlier this year and has kept his whereabouts secret amid almost daily reports in Mexico raising questions about his and his family’s activities during his presidency, which ended a year ago. Salinas is believed to have spent much of the year in Canada, but the officials said he was last reported in Cuba.
The motives of the Customs attache for his directive were not clear but other officials said they believe it was a matter of curiosity. The State and Justice departments said Salinas is not under investigation.
The Treasury Department also said it is not involved in any investigation of Carlos Silanas but added that its law enforcement bureaus ``are cooperating with Mexican and Swiss authorities in the investigation″ of Salinas’ brother, Raoul, and his brother’s wife.
The Mexican government asked the State Department to confirm whether the former president was under investigation for links to drug trafficking.
``The (Mexican) embassy also asked that U.S. authorities cited in the news reports publicly deny such information if it is not true,″ said a Tuesday statement by the Foreign Relations Ministry in Mexico City.
NBC News first reported the presence of Salinas’ name on the lookout list and said the action was drug-related. But U.S. officials said they had received no evidence as of late Tuesday that drug trafficking was the motivation.
NBC News said U.S. telephone intercepts show calls from drug smugglers directly to Salinas’ staff during his presidency. It said the evidence led the Drug Enforcement Administration to ask Swiss authorities to watch Salinas family bank accounts.
A favorite of the Bush and Clinton administrations, Salinas left office in December 1994 enjoying broad popularity among Mexicans. Since then, his standing has plummeted, partially as a result of a steep currency devaluation imposed shortly after his term ended and reports of accumulations of great wealth by family members.
Salinas’ sister-in-law was arrested in Switzerland recently trying to withdraw funds from bank accounts reportedly totaling $84 million.
The NBC report said that since that arrest, three teams of DEA agents have discovered a half-billion dollars in 90 secret and open family accounts in nine countries.
The banks are in Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, England, the Cayman Islands, Panama, Canada, the United States and Mexico, the report said.