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Former Mexican drug czar arrested on corruption charges

  • Story Highlights
  • Mariano Francisco Herran Salvatti facing corruption charges
  • Former anti-drug czar, state attorney general also charged with embezzlement
  • Herran accused of crimes while serving as secretary of economic development
  • Officials are investigating irregularities equaling $12.5 million
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- A former anti-drug czar in Mexico has been arrested on corruption charges in his home state of Chiapas, officials said.

Mariano Francisco Herran Salvatti, who also was the attorney general in Chiapas for more than six years, is charged with embezzlement, criminal association and other acts of corruption, Chiapas Attorney General Raciel Lopez Salazar said.

"In Chiapas, the validity of the law also means that the culture of privilege has passed and justice is applied equally to all," Lopez said on the Chiapas government Web page.

Herran was arrested Saturday night in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, but Lopez did not announce the arrest until Sunday.

The attorney general contends Herran committed the crimes while he served as secretary of economic development in Chiapas, a post he held from November 2007 until June.

Officials are investigating irregularities involving 175 million pesos (about $12.5 million), Notimex said.

Herran served as drug czar for President Ernesto Zedillo from 1997 to 2000. In that post, he was involved in the prosecution of more than 60 members of the Juarez drug cartel and the investigation that led to the 2001 arrest of former Quintana Roo Gov. Mario Villanueva Madrid for his connections to drug traffickers.

Herran, a lawyer, served as attorney general in Chiapas from 2000 to 2006. He came under investigation in April on suspicion of violating the rights of 146 criminal suspects while he was attorney general and was fired as the economic development minister in June.

He still faces prosecution on those charges.

As drug czar in 1999, Herran and his wife escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen on motorcycles fired on his car in Mexico City. A bodyguard and one of the gunmen were wounded in a shootout.

He is not the first former drug czar to face charges.

Noe Ramirez Mandujano, who was the nation's top anti-drug official from 2006 until August 2008, was arrested in November on charges he accepted $450,000 a month in bribes from drug traffickers. Ramirez was accused of meeting with members of a drug cartel while he was in office and providing information on investigations in exchange for the bribes, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza said at the time.

Ramirez's arrest came as part of an ongoing investigation called Operation Limpieza, or Operation Cleanup, that targets officials who may have passed information to drug cartels.

Herran's predecessor as drug czar, Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, was fired in 1997 after an investigation revealed he had received payments from the Juarez drug cartel.

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