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Mexican agents charged in L.A.

A West Covina raid found them with over $500,000, officials say.

August 02, 2008|Richard Marosi | Times Staff Writer

Two Mexican federal agents were charged Friday with possession of alleged drug money after they were arrested at a West Covina home with more than $500,000, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Carlos Cedano Filippini, 35, the lead agent from the Mexicali office of the Agencia Federal de Investigacion, and Victor Manuel Juarez, 36, were arrested Wednesday as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The suspects were not targets of the investigation, said Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman. "We were surprised when we ended up arresting these two," she said.

Also arrested were Hector Manuel Lopez and Julisa Lopez, who was identified by Mexican authorities as Cedano's wife.

The agents' arrests are the latest in a series of corruption scandals and killings involving state federal law enforcement authorities from Baja California. A week ago, two of Cedano's agents were gunned down outside a Chinese restaurant in Mexicali in a suspected organized crime hit.

The agency, an investigative body similar to the FBI, plays a key role in Mexico's drug war but has long been dogged by corruption accusations. Earlier this year, two agents were arrested in Tijuana on suspicion of kidnapping.

The head of the federal attorney general's Baja California office was not available for comment.

A spokesman said the agents were relatively new to the Mexicali office.

The Mexicali area has seen a surge in violence and kidnappings in recent months, possibly stemming from organized crime groups fleeing a crackdown in Tijuana, where more than 3,000 Mexican Army soldiers lead the anti-drug offensive.

The suspects, who face up to four-year prison terms, are being held on $2 million bail.

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richard.marosi@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Victoria Kim contributed to this story.

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