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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mexico Holds Singer Ramon Ayala

Mexico holds singer Ramon Ayala for investigation.

The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexican prosecutors are requesting that Texas-based norteno singer Ramon Ayala be held pending investigation after he was detained at a drug cartel's Christmas party.

Attorney General Arturo Chavez announced Thursday that a judge is considering the request and that any possible charges would be determined by the investigation.

Ayala, a Mexican accordionist who lives in Hidalgo, has been detained in federal police headquarters in Mexico City since the Dec. 11 military raid at a mansion outside the mountain town of Tepoztlan where three gunmen were killed and 11 others suspected members of the Beltran Leyva cartel were detained.

"In the course of their (the musicians') statements, there were a series of indications and a series of contradictions that made us change their status from that of witnesses to that of subjects of investigation," Chavez told reporters.

Adolfo Vega Elizondo, a lawyer for the Latin Grammy winner, said Ayala is being held on suspicion of organized crime ties and could face money laundering charges. Vega denied that the singer or his band Los Bravos del Norte had any ties to drug gangs.

Chavez said his office has asked a judge to order Ayala held for 40 days under a form of house arrest to be served at a guarded government facility.

Ayala's attorney said the musicians were hired to play at the party but didn't know their clients were suspected members of the Beltran Levya cartel.

"They have never in any moment belonged to organized crime," Vega said. "They were offering their services as singers, as artists."

Mexican norteno bands often sing about drug trafficking and violence and many have been rumored to perform at drug traffickers' weddings and other parties, but few have been caught.

On Wednesday, seven members of the Beltran Leyva cartel — including the reputed leader Arturo Beltran Leyva — were killed in a shootout with Mexican Navy marines in the nearby city of Cuernavaca.

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