This article is from the February 1996 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Drug Trafficker Captured

One of Mexico's top drug tratfickers was arrested on a ranch outside of Monterrey Nuevo Leon, on January 14, 1996. Juan Garcia Abrego was the head of the Gulf Drug Cartel, whose earnings have been reported to be $10 and $20 billion annually. The FBI had offered $2 million for information on his whereabouts, as he was on their ten most wanted list. According to official reports, agents were led to the ranch by an anonymous source, where they surprised Garcia Abrego as he tried to escape by jumping a fence. Independent analysts have speculated that this was a negotiated agreement with Abrego to turn himself in. This is based on the circumstances of the arrest: no shots were fired and no bodyguards were around to defend him.

There is a debate over Garcia Abrego's citizenship. There is a birth certificate showing he was born in La Paloma, Texas, as well as one from Matamoros, Mexico. The Mexican government decided it would not be in its interest to keep Abrego in Mexico, perhaps because of his alleged ties to high level government officials. They invoked Article 33 of the Constitution, which allows the executive branch to deport any foreigner whose presence in Mexico the president deems problematic, without judicial proceedings.

Iticardo Aleman, a columnist at La Jornada, has reported that Abrego's arrest was pre-arranged. In the last year, Abrego had expressed his willingness to turn himself in with the proviso that he be sent to the U.S. and his family be left alone. One thing seems certain. Juan Garcia Abrego is a wealth of information concerning drug trafficking, political pay-offs and possibly even circumstances surrounding the assassinations of Colosio and Ruiz Massieu. The FBI will be pressing for some answers, perhaps in return for reduced charges or a light sentence.

Stay tuned.  D.S.