MEXICO CITY -- A former federal police officer was charged Tuesday with accepting $250,000 to allow drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, suspected in the kidnap-murder of a U.S. drug agent, to flee the country two days after the agent's abduction.
The preliminary arraignment of former Federal Judicial Police Cmdr. Armando Pavon Reyes came a day after a second drug kingpin suspected in the agent's death, Ernesto Fonseca Cartilla, was ordered held for trial on drug charges.
Caro Quintero, who was arrested in Costa Rica earlier this month after a shootout with police, also was being held on drug charges.
Neither Fonseca, 60, nor Caro Puintero, 35, has been charged in the Feb. 7 kidnap-murders of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena Salazar and his Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala. And U.S. officials have said that, while the two were believed involved, the real culprit remains at large.
The bodies of Camarena and Zavala were found in a shallow grave near Guadalajara, 300 miles northwest of Mexico City, about a month after they were abducted.
Pavon Reyes appeared at a preliminary arraignment in second district court at the northern penitentiary Tuesday on charges he accepted a bribe to allow Caro Quintero to flee from Guadalajara two days after the two were abducted, Notimex, the Mexican news agency, said.
Pavon Reyes, fired from his police post a month ago, denied the charges and told the hearing he had never even seen Caro Quintero, Notimex said.
Caro Quintero, in statdments to police that he later repudiated, said he gave Pavon Reyes $250,000 after the policeman said he and his men could leave Guadalajara.
U.S. officials strongly criticized Mexican authorities for allowing Caro Quintero to leave Guadalajara after the abductions of Camarena and Zavala.
Caro Quintero was captured April 4, a month after the victims' bodies were found, in a shootout with Costa Rican police at his hideaway mansion in San Jose. He is being held without bond in a Mexico City detention center awaiting trial on charges of drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
Fonseca was ordered held without bond Monday in Mexico City on charges of drug trafficking, judicial officials said.
Mexican police have said Fonseca and Caro Quintero are among top drug traffickers believed involved in the slayings. But the Mexican Justice Department has said that, so far, there is only enough evidence to try them for drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
Officials have said that the two men could be charged later in the Camarena and Zavala killings.
But one DEA source said bigger traffickers remain at large, including the real culprit behind the Camarena and Zavala slayings. The source said Camarena, after being kidnapped, was taken to Caro Quintero's house, where he was offered a bribe.
But then a different band of gangsters tortured and killed Camarena and Zavala -- a DEA informant -- at another house belonging to neither Fonseca nor Caro Quintero.