Mexican says cops threatened him with lion

Mexican says cops threatened him with lion
Associated Press Writer
Posted: Friday, Dec. 26, 2008

MEXICO CITY A gardener detained along with more than a dozen members of an
alleged drug trafficking ring testified that police threatened him to feed him
to lions and tigers during a raid at a Mexico City mansion, a newspaper
reported Friday.

The Oct. 16 raid – in which police seized exotic animals from a private zoo
at a sprawling estate – has been marred by allegations of abuse and corruption
against the police who conducted the operation.

Mexico's former acting federal police chief, Gerardo Garay, is under
investigation for allegedly stealing money from the mansion during the raid.
Garay is among several federal officers arrested for alleged collaboration with drug
cartels in a corruption investigation known as "Operation Clean House."

The Reforma newspaper says it had access to a court hearing Tuesday in which
the gardener, Fernando Maya, testified that police beat him, gave him electric
shocks and threatened to rape his wife if he did not reveal the whereabouts
of the owner of the house, who remains at large. He claimed that police dragged
him to cages with lions and tigers and threatened to throw him inside.

"They kept saying, where is he? And that they were going to throw me to the
lions, they were going to throw me to the tigers, which had not eaten," the
newspaper quoted Maya as saying. "I told them they should just kill me."
Maya also claimed that a police commander tried to goad a monkey into
scratching him, but the animal ended up swiping the officer instead.
The federal Public Safety Department that conducted the raid said its
investigation was still continuing and it declined to comment on Reforma's
report, which was unusual because most court hearings in Mexico are closed to the

Eleven Colombians, a U.S. citizen, two Mexicans an Uruguayan were detained in
the raid, . Prosecutors said the gang allegedly arranged for sea-born cocaine
shipments from Colombia to Mexico's Beltran Levya cartel.

Six of the Colombians and the Uruguayan were charged Tuesday with drug
trafficking. The other foreigners were turned over to immigration authorities to
determine whether they should be deported.

It was unclear if Maya has been charged with any crime. Reforma reported that
he was released on bail Wednesday.

For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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