Pubdate: Thu, 16 Dec 1999
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company
Author: Sam Dillon


An American anti-drug officer based in Mexico was detained by F.B.I.
agents in Texas, where he was charged with trying to hire a contract
killer, the authorities said yesterday.

The agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Salvador Michael
Martinez, 37, sought to arrange the murder of a person he believed to
be responsible for the death of one of his cousins in a 1996
carjacking, the drug agency said in a statement yesterday.

In a separate statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the
person whom Mr. Martinez suspected of having murdered his cousin had
been indicted and acquitted by a jury in El Paso. The bureau said the
carjacking took place in 1995.

Mr. Martinez was arrested in Brownsville, Tex., on Monday and charged
with use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder
for hire, the bureau said.

"This incident has nothing to do with the work of the D.E.A. agent in
Mexico," the United States Ambassador to Mexico, Jeffrey Davidow, said
in a statement issued by the embassy. "Although we are extremely
saddened by this incident, we are also satisfied that our internal
security and control mechanisms worked to prevent a tragedy."

Mexico's Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing "serious
concern about the possible illegal conduct of a foreign agent
accredited before the Mexican Government" and requesting "the most
complete information about the development of this case and a
continuous dialogue to evaluate its implications."

The Mexican statement said Mr. Martinez was based at the United States
consulate in Monterrey, a detail that United States officials had
refused to confirm.

The F.B.I. statement said the murder plot was uncovered by the
bureau's office in McAllen, Tex., which coordinated its investigation
with the drug agency's Office of Professional Responsibility in Washington.

Although Mr. Martinez "is currently assigned to a D.E.A. office
located within Mexico, the investigation was conducted solely within
the United States," the F.B.I. said.
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