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Entertainer Among 18 Arrested In Big Cocaine Bust

August 17, 1988

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A well-known Mexican entertainer who made body building part of her act sobbed a declaration of innocence Tuesday when she and 17 men appeared at a news conference as defendants involved with a drug ring.

The Federal Attorney General’s Office said Rossy Escudero and the others, 10 of them Colombians, were arrested in a raid that netted 1,500 pounds of cocain and involved a major ring that was smuggling the drug into the United States.

They were presented to journalists in Mexico City, including the purported ring leader, a Colombian identified as William Mayor Arias.

A statement from the Attorney General’s Office, which coordinates anti- narcotics activity in Mexico, called the operation the biggest victory of the year over drug dealers. It said the raid followed a six-month investigation.

It said the cocaine, with an estimated street value of $500 million, was confiscated last weekend in Bahia de Kino, in northwestern Sonora state, 210 miles south of the U.S. border.

Those arrested were provisionally booked on charges of attempts against the health of the Mexican population, a catchall felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Most refused to talk to reporters but Ms. Escudero, weeping, insisted she knew nothing of the drug trafficking.

She is a singer, dancer and physical culturist who has her own gymnasium and promotes female body building on national television. She has appeared in movies and in nightclubs.

Authorities got on the ring’s trail in March after a private plane crashed at Barra de Navidad, in western Jalisco state, with a large amount of cocaine aboard, the statement from the attorney general’s office said.

It said four people were later arrested in the Jalisco state capital of Gudalajara, 280 miles northwest of Mexico City, in connection with the crash but had to be freed for lack of evidence.

The four were rearrested last weekend and now are among those in custody, the statement said.

Investigators found the ring had an extensive communications network linking Colombia to Mexico City and Sonora, with a secret headquarters at a hotel in the Mexican capital.

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