WASHINGTON — The attorneys general of the United States and Mexico, seeking to heal relations bruised by the abduction-murder of a U.S. drug enforcement agent in Guadalajara, agreed Friday to resume sharing investigative information and to consider joint prosecution efforts of major drug traffickers.
However, at the Mexican Embassy later Friday, Mexican Atty. Gen. Sergio Garcia Ramirez ruled out any possibility of a totally cooperative effort in the continuing investigation of the abduction and murder of U.S. agent Enrique S. Camarena. Speaking to a group of reporters, most of them Mexican, he said:
"The investigation of that case will be of a crime committed on Mexican territory and will be carried out by Mexican authorities. Of course, we will faithfully supply information on the case" to U.S. authorities.
In a meeting at the Justice Department attended by other top law enforcement officials and each country's ambassador, Garcia and U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III also discussed steps for U.S. aid to strengthen Mexico's effort to eradicate opium poppy and marijuana crops, officials said.
The U.S. officials who took part in Friday's session, including acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief John C. Lawn, had been sharply critical of Mexico's efforts to investigate the Feb. 7 abduction and subsequent murder of Camarena and Alfredo Zavala Avelar, a Mexican pilot who had flown missions for the DEA. Lawn had complained that Garcia's office had shut the DEA out of the investigation, which has led to charges that three Jalisco state judicial police officers abducted Camarena, apparently on orders from Rafael Caro Quintero, reputedly a Mexican drug kingpin.
Discussed Joint Efforts
However, Lawn said Friday that the discussions led by the two attorneys general had covered the possibility of joint U.S.-Mexican efforts--which Garcia apparently rejected--in the Camarena investigation and in other cases against major Mexican drug traffickers.
Officials who declined to be identified said that during Friday's meeting Lawn took "the heavy role" and recited in great detail problems that the DEA has encountered in working with Mexican authorities.
"The decision was made (by Meese) to give it four to six weeks to see what happens and to paint what happened inside (the meeting) nicely," one source said.
Associate Atty. Gen. D. Lowell Jensen, who also took part in the session, said extradition of Mexican drug traffickers to face charges in this country "is a distinct possibility" if the U.S. legal system would provide a better basis for prosecution. He noted that they could be extradited from countries to which they had fled from Mexico.
The assignment of additional DEA agents, stepped-up prosecutive efforts and more money for the anti-drug campaign also were covered, Jensen said.