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Mexico Arrests American INS Agent

November 5, 1999

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican police have detained a U.S. border patrol agent who allegedly crossed into Mexico and beat a man he was pursuing with a nightstick.

The officer _ identified as Immigration and Naturalization employee Michael Welldzius _ was arrested Thursday near Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, Texas, according to a report by the government news agency Notimex.

In a press conference, Federal Treasury Police Commander Otoniel Herrera said Welldzius had been caught beating a Mexican citizen, Jose Julian Acosta, with a baton at a spot 40 yards inside Mexico near a border crossing.

Welldzius, who was carrying a gun and pepper spray canister, told Mexican police that he had been in pursuit of Acosta, who had apparently tried to enter the United States.

Mexico does not allow U.S. police to enter Mexican territory under the justification of ``hot pursuit,″ though U.S. officials have made it known in the past they would like to be able to do so.

Herrera said the U.S. officer had been turned over to federal investigative police. He did not specify whether any charges had been lodged against Welldzius. Mexican law allows police to hold a suspect for 48 hours before initiating court proceedings.

Mexico is still angry over a 1998 money laundering sting operation, code-named ``Casablanca″ in which U.S. agents carried out investigations inside Mexico without approval from the government.

Laws now before Mexico’s Congress would make it a crime for foreign agents to operate without approval in the country. Even under current law, it appears that charges of assault and unlawful possession of arms could be filed against Welldzius.

Update hourly