Jun/27 Top lieutenant of notorious narco nabbed No. 2 in Garcia Abrego ring is in Matamoros prison - Brownsville Herald: News

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Jun/27 Top lieutenant of notorious narco nabbed No. 2 in Garcia Abrego ring is in Matamoros prison

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Posted: Sunday, June 27, 1993 12:00 am

By REBECCA THATCHER

Herald Staff Writer

#MATAMOROS -- Luis Medrano Garcia, a high-ranking member of the Juan Garcia

Abrego drug-trafficking organization, is scheduled to appear before court

officials today on three-year-old drug-trafficking and weapons charges.

Medrano, 37, was arrested Friday in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and flown to

Mexico City and then to Matamoros, Federal District Attorney Carlos Cosio said

Saturday.

Garcia Abrego -- the owner of nine tons of cocaine seized almost four years

ago in Harlingen -- is considered one of the biggest drug traffickers in

Mexico.

Members of the organization have been suspected or arrested for numerous

murders in Brownsville and Matamoros.

FBI witnesses have described Medrano as a key lieutenant in the organization

who supervised hit men and cocaine transporters in Brownsville.

"I know that they are concentrating on arresting narcotics traffickers in

Mexico," FBI supervisor Wayne Smith said Saturday. "I hope there's a

possibility we could extradite him back to the U.S."

Both Medrano and Garcia Abrego have birth certificates and passports stating

that they were born in the United States, but Smith acknowledged that both men

may be Mexican nationals with fake U.S. passports.

In a long, videotaped interview with an undercover FBI agent in 1988, Medrano

bragged about his power over the press and the police in Matamoros. He talked

about how a young lieutenant arrested him and found about seven guns in his

car, according to a transcript of the FBI videotape.

"I stopped the press ... that nothing (should) be released. ... And later on,

the lieutenant became a friend," Medrano told the undercover agent. "They

all can be controlled. All of them, all of them are well-controlled."

Medrano and Garcia Abrego are wanted in the United States on a 125-count

federal grand jury indictment issued three years ago in Dallas. It accuses him

of being a supervisor in a continuing criminal enterprise -- the Garcia Abrego

drug trafficking organization -- which carries a minimum penalty of 20 years

in prison.

"Medrano, reportedly a key member of an international drug smuggling

organization, is responsible for importing multi-ton quantities of cocaine

into the United States from Mexico," an FBI wanted poster states.

Police and federal court officials here said they had little information about

how Medrano was arrested in Ciudad Juarez.

The Matamoros charges stem from a Feb. 21, 1990 round-up by Federal Judicial

Police. Police seized marijuana, guns and 16 vehicles during the raids on

several Matamoros houses, said Roberto Suarez, a law clerk for Federal Judge

Francisco Salvador Perez.

"They described him, Jose Luis Sosa and Juan Garcia Abrego as the ones who

receive the drug here from the Cali Cartel in Colombia," Suarez said

Saturday.

Police later arrested two officials of the Mexican anti-drug agency on charges

of receiving a $2.4 million bribe from Garcia Abrego, states a May 24, 1990

press release from the Mexican Attorney General.

The two officials, Federal Judicial Police Commander Emilio Lopez Parra and

Luis Esteban Garcia Villalon, the director of the government's campaign

against drug trafficking, were eventually released.

If convicted in Mexico, Medrano faces 10 to 25 years for drug trafficking,

five to 30 years for weapons possession, and one month to five years for

impersonating a Federal Judicial Policeman, Suarez said.

Eight of the nine Garcia Abrego organization members arrested during the 1990

round-up were killed in the May 17, 1991 prison riot at the state prison here,

Suarez said.

Among the Garcia Abrego lieutenants still at large are Oscar Malherbe and Jose

Luis Sosa Mayorga, "El Cabezon," or The Big Head. Jose De La Rosa, also

known as "El Amable" -- The Kind One -- may have been arrested in Ciudad

Juarez, Suarez said.

Federal court officials will go to the new state prison here today to hear a

statement from Medrano, Suarez said.

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