Mexicans red-faced over drugs blunder
MEXICAN government officials have admitted they mistakenly claimed to have captured a son of Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman.
The ruling party hailed a major victory in its war on cartels when marines seized the man on Thursday outside Guadalajara and flew him to Mexico City. There they paraded him in front of the media and identified him as Jesus Alfredo Guzman, alias “El Gordo” or “The Fat One”.
But the man’s lawyer, Veronica Guerrero, told a news conference her client’s real name was Felix Beltran and that he was an innocent car dealer.
The federal attorney general’s office said the man arrested was indeed Beltran, without giving any further details.
The mix-up is a major embarrassment for the government, which has been heavily criticised for failing to contain the violence and flow of drugs since President Felipe Calderon sent in the military to fight the cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Marines said they apprehended the man with an arsenal of rifles, pistols and grenades and about $160,000 (£103,000) in cash.
Javier Oliva, a political scientist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the mix-up demonstrated how poor the co-ordination is between US intelligence agencies as well as their co-operation with Mexican counterparts.
“This is really serious. Nothing like this has ever happened before,” he said, questioning why the agencies had gone public on the arrest.
“The main responsibility here lies with the DEA.”
The “arrest” was praised by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, which has sought Jesus Alfredo Guzman since 2009.
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