Pubdate: Sat, 02 Nov 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp


MEXICO CITY - A military court on Friday convicted two generals of aiding 
drug smugglers, concluding a high-profile case aimed at cracking down on 
Mexico's drug trade.

The five-general panel convicted Gen. Francisco Quiros and Brig. Gen. 
Arturo Acosta of protecting cocaine and marijuana shipments for drug lord 
Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who died in 1997 after undergoing plastic surgery.

It sentenced Quiros to 16 years in prison and Acosta to 15. They have 
already served two years. The court cleared the men of another charge of 
criminal association.

Prosecutors accused the generals of protecting drug smugglers and using 
military airplanes to transport shipments of cocaine and marijuana.

Quiros was also found guilty of taking bribes from Carrillo Fuentes, who 
was Mexico's most-wanted drug trafficker in the mid-1990s. It ordered two 
cars and other goods confiscated.

The two were stripped of their ranks and of their military decorations.

The officers also face separate charges in the deaths of 130 leftist 
activists and revolutionaries in the 1970s. That case would open the first 
prosecution of soldiers for crimes committed during Mexico's so-called 
"dirty war."

Quiros, 68, and Acosta, 60, said during the trial that they were innocent 
and refused to answer the prosecution's questions during the trial, citing 
their constitutional right to remain silent.

But during the final session on Friday, Quiros complained that the court 
had accepted the testimony of protected witnesses "who are proven 
criminals, with prison histories."

He complained that his son had been detained for 90 days "on baseless 
accusations" of evading taxes.

Attorneys for the two said they would appeal.

President Vicente Fox - who took office in December 2000, ending 71 years 
of single-party rule - has ordered government officials to crack down on 
corruption and the country's drug trade.

Officials have arrested several high-profile suspects this year, including 
Benjamin Arellano Felix, the alleged leader of the Arellano Felix drug gang.
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