BUENOS AIRES – Seven of the eight Mexicans arrested in 2008 in Argentina and later convicted on drug charges as part of the so-called “ephedrine route” case have been deported and are now free in their homeland, the official Telam news agency reported, citing judicial officials.
The Mexicans were sent home under a provision of Argentine immigration law that allows foreigners who commit serious crimes and are sentenced to more than three years in prison to be deported after finishing half their sentences.
The men, who were sentenced to six-year terms and spent three years in prison, asked their lawyer, Diego Storto, to apply for their expulsion from Argentina, a request that was granted by the courts.
Jorge Lira left Argentina on July 22, while Ruben Rodriguez Cano, Miguel Sierra Chavez, Rodrigo Lozano Rodriguez and Salvador Barrera Valdez were deported five days later.
Brothers Edgar and Luis Rocha Mendoza left the South American country on Sunday.
Jesus Arroyo Vergara asked to remain in prison because “he fell in love with an Argentine girl and wants to stay and have a relationship with her,” Storto said.
The Mexicans were arrested in July 2008, when police raided a luxury residence in Ingeniero Maschwitz, a town outside Buenos Aires.
Officers found an illegal drug lab, several kilos of methamphetamine and ephedrine, which is used to make synthetic drugs, at the house and arrested 10 people.
Jesus Martinez Espinoza, suspected of being the gang’s leader, became a fugitive, was later arrested in Paraguay and is now awaiting trial in Argentina on charges that he smuggled methamphetamine into Mexico.
Marcelo Tarzia, an Argentine arrested in the raid, died in prison while awaiting trial.
Jose Velasco Colon, another Mexican suspect in the case, was acquitted at trial on Oct. 8, 2010. EFE