June 25, 1995 in Nation/World

Mexican Army Arrests Drug Trafficker

Associated Press

Army soldiers on Saturday arrested one of Mexico’s most wanted drug traffickers, a man suspected of involvement in the 1993 assassination of a Roman Catholic cardinal.

Soldiers surrounded the Guadalajara office of the federal attorney general after seven federal agents acting as bodyguards were arrested along with Luis Hector Palma Salazar, leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Authorities say Palma took over the Sinaloa cartel after its leader, Joaquin Guzman Loera, was arrested in Guatemala in May 1993. The cartel is based in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Both Guzman and Palma were implicated in the murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, his driver and five others in a spray of gunfire at the Guadalajara airport in May 1993. Authorities have not released details of their reputed involvement.

The two also are suspected of involvement in a November 1992 shootout at a Puerto Vallarta discotheque that left six people dead.

Palma was charged with several murders, but investigators refused to give details on the charges until a news conference scheduled for later Saturday.

Palma, arrested in a predawn raid in a plush residential area of Guadalajara, told officials he had been protected by federal judicial police Cmdr. Apolinar Pintor Aguilera. The commander was also arrested, said Horacio Montenegro Ortiz, the Jalisco state public security chief.

Three other traffickers also were in custody.

The Attorney General’s Office said in a prepared statement that the raid was a joint action between its office and the Mexican army.

Prosecutors initially said that the cardinal died in a shootout between rival drug gangs. Later they acknowledged he was assassinated.

Posadas Ocampo, 66, was an outspoken critic of the drug cartels. The slaying focused attention on a seamy side of Mexico in which drug traffickers have been allowed by local authorities to operate freely.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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