Mexican officials backtrack on claim that navy raid netted powerful explosives

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mexico officials backtrack on explosives claim

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials on Thursday rejected claims that the nation’s navy had seized a cache of powerful explosives in a boarding house in the nation’s capital.

What marines at first thought was nitroglycerine — a dangerous explosive — turned out to be glycerin — a harmless moistening agent for things like cookies and shampoos — according to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

Mexico’s navy announced a day earlier that marines had raided a hostel in the bohemian Roma neighborhood and seized 45 pounds (20 kilograms) of powerful explosives. It credited U.S. officials with giving information that helped lead to the raid, which officials said might be linked to organize crime.

The four people arrested in the raid were released on Thursday, said Marisela Morales of the Attorney General’s Office.

She said investigators determined that the combination of chemicals seized could not have been used to make an explosive device. In addition to glycerin, the marines had seized nitric acid and paraffin.

The navy said Thursday that it had no comment on the case.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released more details about charges filed against the Zetas drug gang’s purported regional leader for Monterrey, who was captured late Wednesday.

They said Hector Raul Luna Luna was responsible for killing six army officials and masterminding an attack against a police chief in the border state of Nuevo Leon.

The Defense Department also blames Luna for a 2008 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, in which a grenade was thrown at the building but failed to explode. Nobody was hurt in the attack.

Also Thursday, authorities said unknown gunmen killed a man at a drug rehab center in Ciudad Juarez. Police in the same city also found a severed head on a park bench and the body nearby.

In central Mexico, the bodies of two inmates who had been shot were found inside a truck early Thursday in Morelia. A knife was embedded in the chest of one of the victims.

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