MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of three generals and two other officers accused of collaborating with a drug cartel after investigators determined there was insufficient evidence against them.
The generals, Roberto Dawe, Ricardo Escorcia and Ruben Perez, were accused of working with the Beltran Leyva cartel, a violent gang that has smuggled tons of cocaine, heroine, crystal meth and marijuana across the U.S. border.
The three had been senior figures in former President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on organized crime, which pitted the Mexican armed forced against powerful cartels.
Retired general Tomas Angeles was released in April after he was also acquitted for lack of evidence.
The case was seen as the most significant instance of armed-forces corruption in Calderon's conservative administration. Calderon left office last December after six years in power.
His successor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, has pledged to put an end to the violence that exploded under Calderon, and has taken an estimated 70,000 lives. He has so far placed less emphasis on direct confrontation with the gangs.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Sandra Maler)