Court declares 1998 money laundering sting illegal
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) --Four Mexican bankers accused of laundering
money have been released after a federal court ruled a massive U.S. sting in 1998 was
illegal, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The men, mainly bank branch managers, were released Wednesday after
court ruled that the U.S. sting was unconstitutional, in part because U.S. agents
tricked the suspects into laundering money, Reforma newspaper reported.
Thursday was a holiday in Mexico, and court officials were not available
The men were among 100 people and three Mexican banks indicted in a
two-year investigation by the U.S. Customs Department. They were accused
of laundering $11 million for the Juarez drug cartel.
The 1998 case strained relations with Mexican officials who said they
been notified about U.S. operations on Mexican soil.
While Mexico convicted the men of money laundering and sent them to
Mexican jail, they refused U.S. requests to extradite the suspects.
The men were sentenced to 10 years in prison, but released this week
serving roughly half of their sentence.
Some of the Mexican bankers were lured to the Las Vegas area after
undercover agents set up a fictional new casino, Casablanca, to attract money
Undercover agents invited other bankers to the San Diego area for meetings.
Many of those bankers were convicted or plead guilty to similar charges in the
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.