Mexico Accuses Envoy of Bogus Passport Sales

Associated Press

Authorities arrested a consul general who allegedly sold forged Mexican passports and also broke up a gang in Tijuana that smuggled Central American aliens into the United States, officials said Wednesday.

The government news agency Notimex said Fidel Alvarez Lopez, the Mexican consul general in Calexico, Calif., and two unidentified accomplices were taken Tuesday to Tijuana under heavy police escort.

Notimex did not say when or where they were arrested.

All three face preliminary charges of forgery and abuse of authority, the agency said. Alvarez refused to talk to reporters as he was escorted to jail.

A spokesman at the attorney general's office in Mexico City, which investigated the case, confirmed the arrest but refused to give details, saying the probe has not been completed. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity.

$600 to $700 per Forgery

Notimex said a preliminary investigation showed that Alvarez was involved in selling the forged passports for $600 to $700 apiece.

In a separate case, 10 people were arrested in Tijuana in connection with a shakedown scheme that preyed on illegal aliens from Central America trying to sneak into the United States, the attorney general's office said in a prepared statement.

Six of those arrested were Guatemalan citizens, including a brother and two sisters. The news release said Federal Judicial Police picked them up as they tried to cross the border into San Diego.

Officials said the six will be deported to Guatemala.

Also arrested were a Mexican immigration service officer, a junior officer trainee, a former immigration officer and a former judiciary police agent, all of whom demanded bribes of about $100 to let the aliens travel through Mexico into California, the news release said.

The four are being held on charges of abuse of authority, accepting bribes and violating Mexico's immigration laws.

In recent months, Mexico has stepped up efforts to crack down on crime along the border, particularly drug trafficking and illegal migration.

The crackdown and increased cooperation between U. S. and Mexican border authorities was announced by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari after he took office in December.

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