WASHINGTON (AP)_ Attorney General Janet Reno says a federal intelligence center under her department had no business looking into drug trafficking allegations against one of Mexico's most prominent families.

The report by the National Drug Intelligence Center, according to newspaper reports last year, had called the Hank family of Mexico ``a significant criminal threat to the United States.''

Reno, in a March 21 letter to lawyers for a member of the family, said the NDIC report on drug trafficking, first disclosed last year by the Mexican newspaper El Financiero, ``was beyond the substantive expertise and area of responsibility of the NDIC.''

The employee responsible for unauthorized release of the draft report was ``no longer in federal service,'' Reno said.

She told former Sen. Warren Rudman, attorney for Carlos Hank Rhon, the NDIC project that produced the report had been terminated and all copies of the report retrieved.

A copy of her letter was sent to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan at Rudman's request, since the Hank family has banking interests in the United States.

The father of the family, billionaire ruling party member Carlos Hank Gonzalez, last year denied the allegations linking him and his two sons to drug trafficking.

The NDIC, a strategic drug intelligence center under the Justice Department but based in Johnstown, Pa., was referring inquiries to the department. A department spokesman said there would be no comment on the report or Reno's letter.

A prominent member of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, Hank Gonzalez was an elementary school teacher who rose to becoming one of Mexico's richest businessmen. As he gathered his wealth, he served as mayor, governor, congressman and secretary of the tourism and agriculture ministries. He has been retired from politics since 1994.

For the past decade, Hank Rhon has been chairman of the third largest independent bank holding company in Texas, Laredo National Bancshares Inc.