MEXICO CITY, Sept. 11 -- Mexican anti-drug officials said Wednesday they have seized properties worth $15 million from a drug suspect with apparent links to Colombia's Cali cartel. The Attorney General's Office, or PGR, said in a statement that Manuel Rodriguez Lopez was being held under house arrest in La Paz, Baja California Sur, on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering, weapons possession and fraud. The PGR said police seized six fishing boats, a luxury yacht, a helicopter, a small plane, six houses and three vehicles belonging to Rodriguez Lopez, known as 'The Mexican.' The statement said Rodriguez Lopez had suspected ties to Colombian Jose Castrillon Henao, who was arrested in Panama in April on drug and other charges. Javier Molina Ruiz, the commissioner of the National Institute for the Fight Against Drugs, said at a question and answer session that Rodriguez Lopez was detained last Friday. He said authorities had 30 days before they needed to seek an extension of the precautionary detention from a judge. 'I would like to stress the size of this organization within the context that you see...in confiscated goods alone this person represents $15 million,' he said. The PGR said authorities began investigating possible ties between Castrillon's international organization and Rodriguez Lopez. 'This organization apparently has important links to the Cali cartel, whose zone of influence includes Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico,' the statement said. Officials said Castrillon had operations in the Mexican states of Baja California, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Michoacan, Coahuila, Sinaloa and in Mexico City, including an association with Rodriguez Lopez in several fishing companies.
'In total, it is estimated that Castrillon could have counted on the services of a fleet of around 100 boats,' the PGR said. Molina Ruiz said Rodriguez Lopez, who was registered as the administrator of five fishing companies, reported to tax authorities in 1994 that the firms had closed down their commercial operations, although he made bank deposits for more than $1 million between then and 1996, while making transfers abroad of $300,000 and $200,000. Molina Ruiz said suspected money laundering was still under investigation, but added that he could not give concrete details. 'We know that there were operations made through financial institutions that came from Colombia through Mexico and arrived in France, as well as coming from other parts of Europe through Mexico to return to Colombia, but that is part of the investigation,' he said.