Military Prosecutors Arrest Two Army Generals on Drug-Trafficking Charges

Article excerpt

In late August, military prosecutors arrested two Army generals on charges of drug trafficking. Sources for the Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) said the two officers, retired Gen. Francisco Quiros Hermosillo and active Brig. Gen. Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, are accused of aiding the drug- trafficking operations of the cartel created by the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes. SEDENA has also charged Quiros with several counts of attempted bribery.

Carrillo, who ran the drug organization known as the Juarez Cartel, died during surgery in a hospital in Mexico City in 1997 (see SourceMex, 1997-07-16). Even with Carrillo's death, the Juarez Cartel remains one of the most powerful drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico.

Chief Military Prosecutor Rafael Macedo de la Concha said SEDENA had begun to investigate the activities of Quiros and Acosta in 1998, but until now lacked sufficient evidence to detain them. Authorities were finally able to move against the pair after key witnesses offered conclusive evidence that Acosta and Quiros collaborated with the Juarez Cartel, said Macedo. The key witnesses were Adrian Carrera, former chief of the federal police (Policia Judicial Federal, PJF), and Carlos Colon, once Carrillo's chief financial officer. Both men are under "protected status."

Macedo said important evidence against Quiros and Acosta also surfaced during the high-profile investigation of alleged mass-grave sites in Ciudad Juarez last year. Initial reports suggested as many as 100 victims of Carrillo's organization were buried in clandestine graves in Juarez. Authorities found only eight bodies (see SourceMex, 1999-12-15).

Quiros and Acosta are the latest high-ranking officers implicated in the drug trade. In the most prominent case, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo and two aides were arrested in 1997 on charges of accepting bribes for protecting Carrillo Flores and other cartel members. At that time, Rebollo headed Mexico's drug-enforcement agency (see SourceMex, 1997-02-26).

Defense Secretariat investigates others

Macedo said SEDENA has open investigations against 45 other members of the military for their connections with drug traffickers. He said more arrests could be announced in the coming weeks.

"This is a very regrettable and difficult development," said Macedo, referring to the detention of Quiros and Acosta. "But we will continue to conduct an exhaustive investigation."

The daily newspaper Excelsior reported that military and civilian authorities have tried 47 active members of the military on drug-trafficking charges since the 1960s, when the Army and Navy were brought into anti-narcotics operations. But the newspaper said the number of arrests, obtained from SEDENA statistics, is "conservative" because at least another 100 military deserters are thought to be collaborating with drug traffickers.

Quiros and Acosta, who are being held in a military prison, have made few public statements. But in an exclusive interview with the weekly news magazine Milenio, Quiros proclaimed his innocence and denied ever having had any dealings with Carrillo Fuentes or his organization. "I am in jail because of false declarations," Quiros told Milenio.

Quiros said he did not think his detention was politically motivated. "Someone is trying to discredit the Mexican Army," he said. "I don't know their motives."

In addition to the connections with drug traffickers, Quiros and Acosta have been accused of human rights violations during a crackdown against suspected guerrilla groups in Guerrero state during the 1960s and 1970s.

The strongest charges have been levied against Acosta, who is said to have directed operations that resulted in the disappearance, assassination, torture, and illegal detention of at least 500 individuals suspected of links to the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR) and the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (EPRI). …