News


DATE=5/26/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-232838
TITLE=OPERATION CASABLANCA ARRAIGNMENTS (L-ONLY)
BYLINE=MIKE O'SULLIVAN
DATELINE=L-A
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THIRTEEN PEOPLE HAVE PLEADED INNOCENT TO CHARGES OF 
LAUNDERING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR LATIN AMERICAN DRUG CARTELS.  
THE PLEAS CAME IN THE FIRST ARRAIGNMENTS IN "OPERATION 
CASABLANCA" -- A THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK BY 
U-S OFFICIALS.   FROM LOS ANGELES, V-O-A'S MIKE O'SULLIVAN HAS 
DETAILS.

TEXT:  TWELVE OF THE PEOPLE WHO APPEARED IN A LOS ANGELES 
COURTROOM WORKED FOR MEXICAN BANKS, AND ONE WORKED FOR A BANK 
BASED IN VENEZUELA. ALL WERE ARRESTED AS PART OF A STING 
OPERATION CONDUCTED BY U-S LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS.  ALL 13 ARE
BEING DETAINED WITHOUT BAIL.

MORE THAN 100 INDICTMENTS WERE ANNOUNCED BY U-S OFFICIALS IN 
WASHINGTON LAST WEEK.  43 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED OF AS TUESDAY
-- FIVE OF THEM IN MEXICO, TWO ON THE CARIBBEAN ISLAND OF ARUBA, 
AND THE REST IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES.  MORE THAN 
46-MILLION DOLLARS IN ASSETS WAS SEIZED LAST WEEK FROM MEXICAN 
AND VENEZUELAN BANKS, AND SOME 10-MILLION DOLLARS FROM INDIVIDUAL
ACCOUNTS.  

                        /// REST OPT ///

U-S TREASURY SECRETARY ROBERT RUBIN AND ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET 
RENO DESCRIBED THE THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION AS THE LARGEST DRUG 
MONEY LAUNDERING CASE IN U-S HISTORY.  OFFICIALS SAY IT HAS 
EXPOSED LINKS BETWEEN THE CALI DRUG CARTEL OF COLOMBIA, THE 
JUAREZ CARTEL OF MEXICO, AND MEXICAN AND VENEZUELAN BANKS.  
OFFICIALS IN MEXICO FIRST PRAISED THE INDICTMENTS, BUT THEN 
PROTESTED THE MANNER IN WHICH THE OPERATION WAS CONDUCTED, SAYING
U-S AGENTS OPERATED IN MEXICO IN VIOLATION OF MEXICAN LAWS AND 
INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS.

WHITE SPOKESMAN MIKE MCCURRY SAYS PRESIDENT CLINTON SPOKE WITH 
MEXICAN PRESIDENT ZEDILLO BY TELEPHONE LAST WEEK, EXPRESSING 
REGRET THAT BETTER PRIOR COSNULTATION HAD NOT BEEN POSSIBLE IN 
THE CASE.  THE SPOKESMAN SAYS BOTH OFFICIALS REAFFIRMED THE 
IMPORTANCE OF THE U-S - MEXICO PARTNERSHIP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST 
DRUG TRAFFICKING.

A STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN SAYS SECRETARY OF STATE MADELAINE 
ALBRIGHT ALSO EXPRESSED REGRET TO MEXICAN FOREIGN SECRETARY 
ROSARIO GREEN OVER THE LACK OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE TWO 
COUNTRIES IN THE CASE. (SIGNED)



NEB/MOS/WDC/PT



26-May-98 8:28 PM EDT (0028 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.