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May 26, 1998

Mexico May Seek Agents' Extradition


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Filed at 11:53 a.m. EDT

By The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- A top Mexican official says both President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have admitted that U.S. agents made mistakes in a money-laundering sting that snared two dozen Mexican bankers.

Foreign Secretary Rosario Green also says Mexico may try to extradite and prosecute U.S. agents who violated Mexican law while taking part in the sting named ``Operation Casablanca.''

Green spoke Monday night at a ceremony to swear in six new ambassadors.

Mexican officials at first welcomed the Casablanca money-laundering indictments announced May 18 in Washington, but in recent days they have condemned the operation as an attack on Mexico's sovereignty.

Officials from President Ernesto Zedillo on down have complained that U.S. agents operated inside Mexico without their knowledge and in violation of Mexican laws and international agreements.

``We will be firm in response to any action that injures the integrity of the nation,'' the government's Notimex news agency quoted Green as saying.

Green said both Clinton and Albright had called her to admit procedural errors. She also said U.S. officials had promised to cooperate with Mexico's investigation of the agents' activities.

U.S. officials say did not notify Mexico of the operation because they feared endangering undercover agents. Mexico's anti-drug operations often are infiltrated by drug gangs.

Operation Casablanca produced about 160 indictments last week. At least two dozen Mexican bankers and several other Mexican citizens were among those indicted. Many had been lured to the United States, where they were arrested.

Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar said Mexico may file a protest with the U.S. Congress.



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