Seven Arraigned on Kidnap-Murder Charges In U.S. Drug Agent Case
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Six police officers and a former police agent have been arraigned on charges of kidnapping and killing a U.S. drug agent. Some of the unshaven and haggard defendants claimed they had been tortured and forced to sign confessions.
The men, six of them Jalisco state Judicial Police officers, stood behind bars Sunday while officials read more than 380 pages of evidence against them. The accused said they had been beaten and given electric shocks, and had not been fed for a week. One other suspect died in police custody last week.
Judge Gonzalo Ballesteros Tena said ″all seven are charged to a greater or lesser degree″ with the three most serious crimes - homicide, kidnapping and drug-related offenses. He said the degree of each person’s charges would be determined later.
He said he did not expect any of the defendants to be released on bail.
Kidnapping carries a sentence ranging from six to 40 years in prison, murder from eight to 20 years, and narcotics violations seven to 15 years.
Ballesteros Tena must decide by late Tuesday whether the evidence is sufficient to consider the men ″presumed responsible″ for the crimes. If so, he has a year to hear more evidence and reach a verdict. If not, the case is thrown out of court.
The defendants are among 13 people arrested last week in an investigation of the killing of Enrique Camarena Salazar, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, and Alfredo Zavala Avelar, a pilot who worked with him. Camarena and Zavala were kidnapped Feb. 7 in Guadalajara and their severely beaten bodies were found March 5 on a ranch 60 miles east of the city.
Felipe Flores, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, said Saturday that authorities are still looking for six or seven other people in the case, including a reputed drug trafficker, Rafael Caro Quintero. Authorities say they have issued several more arrest warrants.
Of the 13 people arrested so far, four were released after questioning, one was turned over to state authorities in Guadalajara on other charges and the other, Commander Gabriel Gonzalez Gonzalez of the Jalisco homicide division, died in custody.
Jose Guadalupe Munoz Villareal, the former police agent, told the court Sunday that he had heard sounds of Gonzalez Gonzalez being tortured to death.
″We could hear his screams and we knew his voice,″ he said. ″And at a certain time his screams stopped and we heard someone say, ’This ox is gone.″ The Attorney General’s office said last week an autopsy showed the cause of death was ″acute bleeding of the pancreas″ and indicated no signs of beating.
Munoz Villareal showed the court a bruise on his shoulder and burns on his right ankle. He said that in addition to being beaten, his head had been forced into a toilet bowl, carbonated water was forced up his nose, and he was given electric shocks.
Munoz Villareal said he had been forced to sign a confession, ″a sheet of paper already written out.″
Two other defendants, Gerardo Torres Lepe and Benjamin Locheo Salazar, also said they were tortured, and Torres Lepe said he signed a confession ″under duress.″
Flores said that two of the defendants, Torres Lope and Lopez Razon, admitted kidnapping Camarena and taking him to Caro Quintero’s house.
Flores said the two had not actually killed Camarena, but they took him to Caro Quintero’s house, knowing Camarena would be killed.