Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico to Review Witness Protection Program

Saturday, December 5, 2009 |

The Associated Press


MEXICO CITY  - Mexican federal prosecutors will review their witness protection program after gunmen killed a drug case informant in a Starbucks coffee shop in the capital, officials said Wednesday.

Federal Attorney General's Office spokesman Ricardo Najera said prosecutors will review whether protected witnesses should be forced to be accompanied by bodyguards, among other things.

Currently, protected witnesses are not obliged to have bodyguards when they leave government safe houses, Najera said.

On Tuesday, gunmen killed protected witness Edgar Bayardo in a Mexico City Starbucks. He was accompanied only by a personal assistant who was wounded in the attack.

Bayardo was a former federal police investigator who was detained in 2008 on suspicion of collaborating with the Sinaloa drug cartel. After his arrest, Bayardo became a witness in a drug corruption case against government officials that reached all the way to Mexico's former drug czar, Noe Ramirez.

Ramirez was arrested last year for allegedly taking at least $450,000 from a member of a drug cartel in exchange for passing on information about police operations.

Bayardo is the second protected witness to have died in less than a month.

On Nov. 20, another protected witness against the Sinaloa cartel, Jesus Zambada Reyes, identified as the nephew of drug lord Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, was found dead of asphyxiation at a house in Mexico City.

The federal attorney general's office said Zambada was hanged with a shoelace and described the death as an apparent suicide.

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