Mexico drops generals' drug charges

05.07.2013 16:34

Prosecutors in Mexico have dropped
charges against a group of senior
army officers who were accused of
having links to a drugs gang.
The officers, including three generals,
were arrested last year and kept in a
maximum security jail.
They were accused of protecting
members of the Beltran Leyva cartel in a
case that reportedly relied on evidence
from detained drug traffickers.
Judges said the witness testimony was
not enough to prove the charges.
Two people in a witness protection
programme, known under the code
names of Jennifer and Mateo, had
accused the soldiers of links with the
Beltran Leyva cartel.
Generals Roberto Dawe, Ricardo Escorcia
and Ruben Perez, and Lt Col Silvio
Hernandez Soto, were all arrested last
year. They were set free this week.
The most high-profile officer implicated
in the case was retired Gen Tomas
Angeles Dauahare, who was freed from
jail in April.
The men are among the highest-ranking
officers to be arrested and charged in
recent years.
Gen Tomas Angeles Dauahare (C) was freed
in April
Mexican troops played a key role in
tackling the drug gangs under former
President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to
Gen Angeles was assistant defence
minister from 2006 to his retirement in
Gen Escorcia was the head of the military
in Morelos state, which was considered
Beltran Leyva territory. He stepped down
in 2010 when he reached retirement
Gen Dawe commanded a military base in
western Colima state, an important
trafficking route.
Col Hernandez Soto retired from the
army in 2002 and became a senior
police commander in Sinaloa state.
The soldiers were charged with
"organised crime to further drug-
trafficking", though the details of the
accusations were unclear.
All the men denied the charges.
The Beltran Leyva gang began to
fragment in 2009 after its leader, Arturo
Beltran Leyva, was killed in a shootout
with marines.
Drug-related violence has killed tens of
thousands in Mexico since 2006.