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Mexico Reportedly to Seek Extradition of DEA Official

From Associated Press

Mexico will seek the arrest and extradition of a Drug Enforcement Administration official for his role in the abduction of a Mexican physician facing trial in the death of a U.S. drug agent, according to news reports.

Mexico City newspapers reported Saturday that the attorney general’s office will seek the extradition of DEA supervisor Hector Berrellez, for alleged involvement in the kidnaping of Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machain. The physician faces trial for alleged participation in the 1985 slaying of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

Berrellez testified Friday at a federal hearing in Los Angeles that up to $50,000 was authorized for the capture of Alvarez. He said that DEA Deputy Director Pete Gruden knew of the plan.

The seizure of the doctor from his office has caused tension between the U.S. and Mexican governments. Mexico has demanded his return, saying his delivery to the United States violated Mexican sovereignty.

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Alvarez, a Guadalajara gynecologist, was arrested April 3 after being taken to El Paso to face charges that he administered drugs to Camarena during the kidnaping, torture and murder of the drug agent and his pilot.

DEA spokesman Frank Shults in Washington denied that the government offered a reward for the people who captured Alvarez, saying the $20,000 payment was for “services.” He said it could have covered such things as rental of the plane that flew Alvarez to El Paso.

Former Mexican police officer Antonio Garate Bustamante, who is wanted by the Mexican government, testified he paid $20,000 in DEA money to the people who captured Alvarez, and was continuing to pay their expenses.

Garate said he arranged for the doctor to be brought across the border with the approval of DEA officials. He said he found friends who would do the job without advance payment.

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“I told them that no money would be provided up front, and they would have no assistance from the DEA,” he said. “Whatever they were doing they were doing on their own.”

The attorney general’s office said Friday that it would present formal accusations against Berrellez and Garate in a Mexico City district court, according to news reports. After obtaining warrants, it will present the accusations to the Foreign Ministry to seek the official’s extradition, the newspapers said.

Mexican officials call Garate the “connection” between DEA officials and the Mexicans who abducted Alvarez, the news reports said.

On April 28, the attorney general’s office announced the arrest of six people for alleged involvement in Alvarez’s capture.

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President Carlos Salinas de Gortari said Friday that the abduction “does not help in the fight against drug smuggling.”

Speaking in the northern state of Chihuahua, Salinas said that the U.S. and Mexican governments should conduct themselves with mutual respect.

Testimony at the trial of three other men in 1988 showed that Camarena was tortured and interrogated by drug lords. Prosecutors maintain Alvarez gave Camarena drugs to revive him for additional torture before his slaying.

The drug lords reportedly were angered because Camarena’s undercover work had led U.S. and Mexican authorities to a desert marijuana plantation, where they seized 10,000 tons of the drug worth billions of dollars.

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