Five Officials Charged with Drug Trafficking in Sinaloa
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Five municipal officials have been arrested following last week’s seizure near their northwestern town of $35 million worth of cocaine, the federal attorney general’s office reported.
A federal police officer and an alleged drug trafficker were killed in a shootout when soldiers who had been tipped off surrounded a drug-laden plane after it landed outside Cruz de Elota, in Sinaloa state about 55 miles north of the Pacific resort of Mazatlan.
The plane was believed to be on its way to the United States from Colombia.
Francisco Fonseca, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said Wednesday the arrests were made over the weekend. He said the five Cruz de Elota officials were charged with ″crimes against the public health by illegal introduction into the country of drugs ... and coverup.″
The newspaper Noroeste in Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital, reported that drug flights had been landing in the area under protection of local officials. Fonseca refused to confirm the report, but did not deny it.
Gen. Rodolfo Reta Trijos, commander of the local military zone in Sinaloa, said last Thursday that 14 arrests were made immediately after the shootout.
Reta Trijos said soldiers had waited for the twin-engine plane that landed at an airfield used for crop dusting planes.
The plane was believed to be stopping in Mexico for refueling and to unload some of its cargo of narcotics.
President Miguel de la Madrid has launched an anti-narcotics campaign that is run jointly by the Defense Department and the Federal Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to being a transit point for cocaine, Sinaloa is one of the major centers of marijuana and opium poppy production in Mexico.