Mexico got wrong man in high-profile drug arrest: lawyer

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 22, 2012 7:37 PM
Mexico got wrong man in high-profile drug arrest: lawyer

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters) - A man accused of being a cocaine trafficker and the son of Mexico's most wanted drug lord Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman is an automobile dealer swept up in a case of mistaken identity, his attorney said on Friday.

Mexican marines seized the suspect on Thursday outside Guadalajara and flew him to Mexico City, where they paraded him in front of the media and identified him as Jesus Alfredo Guzman, alias "El Gordo" or "The Fat One."

They said they found him with an arsenal of rifles, pistols and grenades and about $160,000 in cash.

But lawyer Veronica Guerrero told a news conference that her client's real name is Felix Beltran and that he is an innocent car dealer.

"This is a case of total confusion over people," said Guerrero, who was accompanied by a woman who said she is the suspect's mother.

Mexico's federal attorney general's office said it would seek to establish the identity of the suspect using DNA tests and other methods.

Thursday's arrest won praise from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has sought Jesus Alfredo Guzman since he was indicted for cocaine trafficking in 2009.

His father, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, faces dozens of charges of racketeering and drug smuggling in U.S. courts. There is a $5 million reward for his capture.

The arrest came just over a week before Mexicans vote for a leader to replace President Felipe Calderon.

Brutal clashes between drug cartels and Mexican authorities have killed more than 55,000 people since Calderon launched a crackdown on the gangs in late 2006.

The candidate of Calderon's National Action Party, Josefina Vazquez Mota, is in third place, partly because of public dissatisfaction over the drug war.

On Thursday Vazquez Mota congratulated the marines on the arrest.

Enrique Pena Nieto, candidate for the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has a double-digit lead in most polls.

(Reporting by Jose Luis Osorio; Writing by Ioan Grillo; Editing by Simon Gardner and Xavier Briand)