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Former Prosecutor Tortured, Killed

May 19, 1996

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A former federal prosecutor was tortured and killed, newspapers reported Sunday. He was the fourth top official for the attorney general’s office in Baja California state to be killed this year.

Sources quoted by Mexico City newspapers suggested that the slaying of Sergio Moreno Perez, who prosecuted drug crimes, and his son Osmani could be linked to drug gangs.

Many drug gangs are believed to maintain cozy relations with law enforcement officials in the state, and some analysts suggested to newspapers that Moreno could have been killed by a gang he once protected.

Moreno also had other enemies: He was an ally of Mexican reformists and helped investigate the slaying of two aides to a leftist presidential candidate who nearly toppled the ruling party in 1988.

The federal attorney general’s office in Mexico City declined comment on the case Sunday.

The bodies of Moreno, 47, and his 21-year-old son were discovered several days ago a car in Naucalpan, a western suburb of Mexico City, and identified Saturday. The newspaper La Jornada said they had been shot and showed signs of torture.

Three other senior law enforcement officials from the state have been killed this year: Sergio Armando Silva, a former operations chief for the federal judicial police; prosecutor Rebeca Acuna Sosa; and former chief prosecutor Jose Arturo Ochoa Palacios.

Moreno was delegate for the federal attorney general’s office, which is charged with prosecuting drug crimes, in Baja California from January 1995 to January 1996.

Tijuana, the largest city in Baja California, is the home of one of Mexico’s largest narcotics smuggling operations, run by the Arellano Felix brothers.

Moreno reportedly had not been aggressive in going after the gang, telling reporters in November: ``I haven’t known anything about the Arellano brothers and it is not my responsibility to go around investigating them.″

In November, 19 federal police agents from the peninsula were charged with helping unload a planeload of cocaine at a clandestine landing strip in neighboring Baja California Sur. The entire federal judicial police force in that state was later transferred to Mexico City.

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