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S.D. Judge Orders Realease of Man Captured with Suspected Drug Trafficker

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A federal judge in San Diego has ordered that one of the men captured along with suspected drug kingpin Francisco Javier Arellano Felix be released from jail. Cesar Niebla Lerma was being held for lying about his name. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has details.

US Coast Guard agents arrested Cesar Niebla Lerma off the coast of Baja California last August. When he was taken into custody, Niebla gave a false name. In September, federal prosecutors in San Diego decided they didn’t need Niebla’s testimony. A judge ordered he be returned to Mexico. But as the handover was about to happen, US federal officials decided to charge Niebla with making a false statement to a government agent…for lying about his name.

Niebla’s attorney, Jeremy Warren, suspects the prosecution was trying to hold Niebla.

Warren: To determine if there was sufficient evidence to charge them with any kind of drug crime or any kind of crime in the United States.

Warren says Mexican authorities plan to detain Niebla when he arrives. Though Warren says no charges are pending in Mexico. Amy Isackson, KPBS news.

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