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Mexico’s Interpol Liason Arrested

Mexico’s main liaison officer with Interpol hasbeen arrested as part of an inquiry into suspected links betweenofficials and drug traffickers.

Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas was placed under house arrest. He canbe held for up to 40 days while allegations against him are beinginvestigated.

At least three other Mexican officials have been arrested in recent weeks in connection with “Operation Clean-up”.

About 4,000 people have died this year in drugs-related violence in Mexico.

Correspondents say the surge in violence is relatedin part to the successes the Mexican authorities have had in recentmonths in arresting key members of powerful drug cartels.

Operation Clean-up is aimed at weeding out officials with alleged links to the traffickers.

Prosecutors say that Mr Gutierrez was arrested as part of an investigation into leaks of information to drug cartels.

The investigation stems from information prosecutors say wasobtained following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, an allegedleading member of the Sinaloa cartel in January.

Information obtained from Mr Beltran Leyva’s arrest was said toconfirm Mexican authorities’ beliefs that the cartels have been bribingand working with senior officials to assist them with their illegalactivities.

Investigators suspect the cartels may have paid officials up to $450,000 (£300,000) a month in bribe money.

Those huge sums in bribe money may sound astounding, says BBCLatin America editor Emilio San Pedro, but the illegal drugs trade inMexico is very big business.

The cartels control both the internal market and the lucrativeflow of drugs across the border to the US, which is estimated to bringin more than $14bn a year.

Source

2008-11-19

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