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Report: DEA repeatedly warned Mexico about drug corruption in airports

Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY- The DEA repeatedly warned Mexican authorities about drug corruption in its airports up until soldiers last month seized 5 1/2 tons of cocaine aboard a commercial jet flown in from Venezuela, according a report Sunday in Mexico's Reforma newspaper.

Other large shipments of drugs may have been flown into Mexico in the months leading to the seizure, according to the article citing DEA and Mexican government intelligence reports.

An official at the DEA headquarters in Washington said spokesmen would not be able to comment until Monday. Press officers at Mexico's Federal Attorney General's Office said the agency has not yet defined a position on Reforma report.

Soldiers in April seized the 5 1/2 tons of cocaine at Ciudad de Carmen's airport in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, 880 kilometers (550 miles) east of Mexico City. Stacked in 128 black suitcases, the drugs were believed to be en route to the United States.

Following the seizure, Federal Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said at least five federal police assigned to guard the airport were being investigated for possible links to drug traffickers.

The Reforma article said the DEA had advised about the possibility of drugs being flown into airports in Yucatan back in August and repeated the warning in seven subsequent reports.

In February, the U.S. drug agency said a commercial plane from Panama, which may have been carrying up to 6 tons of cocaine, landed in two Yucatan airports without being checked, Reforma said.

The DEA also warned of possible links between police agents in Yucatan and drug kingpin Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, Reforma reported.

Guzman, who escaped from a high-security federal prison in 2001, is wanted in California for conspiracy to import cocaine and is believed to be involved in a bloody turf war on the Mexico-Texas border. The DEA is offering $5 million (euro4 million) for information leading to his capture.

The Yucatan peninsula, which includes the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche, has long been used as a shipping point for Colombian cocaine headed to the United States.

In the 1990s, former Quintana Roo Governor Mario Villanueva allegedly helped traffickers from the statehouse. Villanueva was arrested in 2001 and is on trial on drug charges.

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