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U.S. Role in Kidnaping of Drug Trafficker Is Denied

February 11, 1986|H.G. REZA | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A federal prosecutor told a U.S. district judge Monday that he was not aware of any government involvement in the alleged kidnaping of an accused Mexican drug trafficker.

Judge J. Lawrence Irving said he would order the government to preserve all evidence in its possession pertaining to the alleged kidnaping of Rene Martin Verdugo.

Verdugo is charged with smuggling about a ton of marijuana from Tucson, Ariz., to Vista, Calif., in 1983. Drug Enforcement Administration officials and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City have said that Verdugo also may have information about the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, who they say was ordered killed by Mexican drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico, in February, 1985.

Kidnapping Claim

Verdugo claimed at a court appearance last month that he was kidnaped on Jan. 24 near San Felipe, Baja California, by six men who handcuffed and blindfolded him before driving him to Mexicali. At Mexicali, he claimed, they shoved him through a hole in the border fence into the arms of waiting U.S. marshals.

Several federal law enforcement sources have told The Times that the six, including four Baja California State Judicial Police officers, are "in the control" of the DEA.

It was also learned on Monday from a source close to the investigation that the Immigration and Naturalization Service has issued temporary visas to the six and their families after they received death threats from Mexican drug traffickers upset over their involvement in the abduction. INS officials would not confirm this.

Mexican Allegations

Although Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael E. Lasater insisted in two court appearances Monday that he does not know anything about the alleged abduction, his Mexican counterpart in Mexicali said the allegations of Mexican police involvement conform with information he received from other Mexican authorities after Verdugo was arrested by U.S. marshals.

Meanwhile, on Monday a U.S. marshal's spokesman refused to confirm or deny a version of Verdugo's arrest that his agency gave The Times the day after his apprehension. On Jan. 25 the marshal's office and U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Verdugo was in the United States and was arrested in Calexico when he tried to return to Mexicali through the port of entry.

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