Thu, Dec 02, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Mexico questions federal workers on Cancun deaths


About 30 soldiers seized the federal Attorney General's office in the resort city of Cancun on Tuesday, questioning its staff about the recent killings of nine people, including three federal agents.

Mexico's top drug and organized crime prosecutor, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, flew to Cancun, arriving shortly after the soldiers moved in on the offices. He entered the building briefly, then later told reporters that all federal employees there were under investigation in the discovery of nine bodies last week outside Cancun.

Five corpses were found Nov. 25 with gunshot wounds to the head on a dirt road just south of Cancun, famous the world over for its white-sand beaches, swim-up hotel pool bars and night clubs. Authorities recovered an abandoned car nearby.

Three of the victims -- Luis Octavio Guzman, Roberto Alcantara and Fernando Perez -- were members of the elite Federal Agency of Investigation, the Mexican equivalent of the FBI.

Another four charred bodies were discovered in the trunk of a burned-out car parked in an illegal dump near a highway, about 10km from the Cancun airport.

A day later, two Federal Agency of Investigation agents who were wounded but alive were discovered before dawn outside Cancun. Both had gunshot wounds to the legs and one also had a broken leg.

Vasconcelos refused to say how many people who work for the federal Attorney General's office here were being investigated. He added, however, that both of the wounded but surviving agents were also under suspicion.

Police said the slayings appeared to have come as part of a drug turf war and Santiago Vasconcelos said the investigation has focused on Joaquin Guzman, a feared kingpin known as "El Chapo" who escaped from prison in 2001.

Drug smugglers loyal to Guzman may have killed some or all of the victims as part of a battle for control of smuggling routes in and around Cancun that are believed to be controlled by groups loyal to the Gulf cartel, Santiago Vasconcelos said.

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