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Customs agents: Informants said Ruiz Massieu received drug money

March 13, 1997

HOUSTON (AP) _ Shortly before a Houston bank account was seized, ``reliable″ informants said Mario Ruiz Massieu received $1 million and five cars from Mexico’s notorious drug cartel leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes, a U.S. Customs agent testified Wednesday.

Also, a bodyguard for a federal judicial police commander testified that he personally delivered two suitcases full of cash to the trunk of a car as Ruiz Massieu sat in the passenger seat.

Customs agent Robert Rutt said sources told them of the payoff as he and other officials began tracking the more than $9 million found in Ruiz Massieu’s bank account.

Federal prosecutors say the money was obtained illegally, as payoffs from drug traffickers wanting to avoid prosecution. They are trying to confiscate the money through a civil forfeiture trial.

The bodyguard, Raul Macias, said the payment was made only days after he helped unload most of the 11 tons of cocaine flown on a Boeing 727 from Colombia to the northern Mexico state of Zacatecas in August 1994.

U.S. officials have suspected that Mexican police stole much of the shipment. Mexico police said they seized only 2.7 tons of the drug.

Macias said he helped unload all but about 2 tons of the cocaine from the plane. He said the rest was taken by federal police officers to another site.

Days later, Macias said, he was instructed by his commander to take two suitcases of money and place them in the trunk of a blue Grand Marquis.

``I loaded the two bags,″ he said, speaking through a Spanish translator. And as he did so, he spotted a face in the passenger seat he recognized from a picture in his commander’s offices: the face of Ruiz Massieu.

Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s top drug prosecutor as deputy attorney general from 1993-94, maintains he earned the $9 million in the bank account legally.

During Wednesday’s testimony, he shook his head and smiled broadly.

Many Mexicans hope this trial will shed new light on a brewing corruption scandal. Ruiz Massieu is the younger brother of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the No. 2 man in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party who was slain in 1994.

Mexican authorities have accused the former deputy attorney general of obstructing justice in the probe into his brother’s death. They have charged former Mexican President Carlos Salinas’ brother, Raul Salinas de Gortari, with masterminding the killing.

Ruiz Massieu was arrested in 1996 in New Jersey en route to Spain after failing to declare $46,000 in cash he was carrying. He is awaiting a deportation hearing.