December 27, 2008 in Nation/World

Miss Sinaloa arrested on drug charges

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Mexican congressmen called for a federal investigation of potential drug cartel ties to the nation’s beauty pageants Friday after a 23-year-old beauty queen was arrested on suspicion of drug and weapons violations.

Congressional leaders warned that cartels may have infiltrated contests to launder money, and said a full investigation was needed.

To many, former preschool teacher Laura Zuniga, named Miss Sinaloa in the drug-plagued northern state’s annual beauty contest, symbolizes declining ethics in Mexico.

“It is very sad. What we are seeing is a loss of values among young people,” said Rep. Juan Francisco Rivera, who heads the congressional public safety committee.

Northern Mexico’s entertainment industry – including concerts, contests and musical groups – has been dogged by reports that powerful drug cartels have “adopted” performers or played a role in laundering drug money through ticket offices.

Zuniga was arrested Monday while riding in a truck filled with weapons. She and seven men arrested with her will be held for 40 days while police decide whether to charge them.

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