One of the 14 suspects arrested this week in connection with the abduction and murder of U.S. narcotics agent Enrique S. Camarena has confessed to involvement in the kidnaping, the Mexican attorney general's office announced Thursday.
Seven of the suspects are members of the Jalisco state judicial police. Camarena and Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala Avelar were kidnaped in separate incidents on Feb. 7 in Guadalajara and found dead last week.
No formal charges have been filed against any of the suspects.
The other detainees were described in a news release from the attorney general as "former police agents and individuals involved in criminal activities."
One of the 14 suspects, Gabriel Gonzalez Gonzalez, died under detention of "an acute pancreatic hemmorrhage," the news release from the attorney general's office said. Gonzalez, a section commander and homicide investigator in the Jalisco state judicial police, was described as "a cocaine addict" and "intimate friend" of various known narcotics traffickers.
"He received a monthly stipend for his services to the narcotics traffic, as well as arms," according to the attorney general's statement.
In addition to Gonzalez, three of the other suspects in custody were also listed as group commanders.
"They were protectors and collaborators of the narcotics traffickers," the statement said. "All of them were strongly related to delinquent activities, particularly the narcotics trade. The services the drug traffickers received consisted of personal protection and protection of their property, custody of the drugs in transit as well as a permanent service of information and prevention with respect to the activities realized by the authorities against the illicit activity."
The statement said the declarations made by the suspects so far had given Mexican authorities " a reasonable conviction of the existence of criminal connections between narcotics traffickers and police agents." It added that "one of the detainees has declared his personal participation in the kidnaping. This declaration is corroborated by other elements of proof." They declined to elaborate on those elements of proof or identify the suspect who allegedly confessed.
Some earlier reports said that as many as 30 suspects, including 18 civilians, had been arrested, but this figure is apparently incorrect.
None of the 13 men known to be in custody are among Guadalajara's known or suspected narcotics kingpins, who are believed to have masterminded the Camarena abduction. U.S. officials have felt from the outset, however, that police in Guadalajara were involved in carrying out the operation or helping to cover it up.
Mexican officials have declined to say whether the suspects are currently in Guadalajara or were transferred to Mexico City for questioning, as some U.S. officials were told.
Besides Gonzalez, the other judicial policemen arrested were identified as: Victor Manuel Lopez Razon, a commander in the state force, Juan Rulfo Solorio, Hector Lopez Malo, Raul Lopez Alvarez, Gerardo Torres Lepe and Benjamin Locheo
According to U.S. sources, Mexican agents early Thursday raided ranches in northwestern Sonora state belonging to notorious drug traffickers Rafael Caro Quintero and Felix Gallardo, but neither of them was found.
No. 1 Suspect
Caro Quintero is believed by U.S. officials to be the prime suspect in the Camarena abduction, although he probably did not take part in the actual kidnaping.
The arrests of the Mexican state judicial policemen began Tuesday morning. The operation was such a tightly guarded secret that their disappearances were originally labeled kidnapings and were reported as such in Mexican newspapers.
It was not until late Wednesday night that the government acknowledged that the men had been taken into custody for questioning in connection with the Camarena case.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City on the arrests and reported confession.
U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed frustration at the inability of the Mexican police--acting, in some cases, on leads provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration--to arrest any important drug traffickers or to otherwise produce results in the Camarena investigation.