February 24, 2004
Mexican Miguel Nazar Haro was protected by the CIA
By Víctor Hugo Michel (Mexico City)
and Dora Irene Rivera (Monterrey)
EDITED TRANSLATION OF A FEBRUARY 23, 2004, PIECE FROM MILENIO, MEXICO CITY
Miguel Nassar Haro* (aka Nazar Haro; or Nasar Haro),
Mexico’s ex-director of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), received help from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
and the U.S. Justice Department to avoid incarceration in the U.S. when he was under investigation for participating in a
car theft ring, revealed Peter K. Nuñez, the former U.S. Attorney in charge of the case in San Diego, California.
In an interview with Milenio, Nuñez said that
when he tried to arrest and prosecute Nassar Haro in the early 1980s, the “intelligence agencies” in Washington
began to meddle in the case and they even pressured him not to pursue the investigations.
“It was a very complicated circumstance. We [in San Diego] had spent considerable time trying to charge him, and the Justice
Department in Washington and some of the U.S. intelligence agencies did not want us to go ahead,” Nuñez said.
Asked if he believes the CIA got involved to influence
the escape of Nassar Haro from the U.S. — after (he) spent a few hours in a San Diego jail, Nuñez dryly responded “yes.”
The CIA considered Nassar Haro, according to different
reports, “the most important source in Mexico and Central America” for the U.S. espionage services.
From the beginning of the call, upon hearing the
reporter’s nationality, Nuñez guessed the subject of the interview. “You
want to talk about Miguel Nassar Haro,” he anticipated. “Let me tell
you: I am not surprised that he has been arrested in Mexico.”
Nuñez, a favorite of Ronald Reagan who was famous
for having detained the ex-director of the DFS for a few hours in a San Diego jail, affirmed that he and his team of attorneys
had gathered “sufficient information” to link Nassar Haro with car theft in Southern California.
(Reporter:) How was the connection between Nassar
Haro and this gang of car thieves discovered, was it through an informant?
(Nuñez:) In part, yes. Many people had already been arrested, and many of them had cooperated with the U.S. government. And among other things, they revealed the role of Nassar Haro in the case.
(The reporter continued with several questions about
extradition, then and now. In a concluding comment Nuñez said that) the arrest
warrants against Miguel Nassar Haro, for car theft in California, “are still open and they have not expired.” As such, “an eventual extradition request” cannot be dismissed.
Nuñez said, that according to the U.S. justice (system),
two decades after being indicted in a federal court for his alleged participation in an organization dedicated to stealing
vehicles in San Diego Nassar Haro is still a “fugitive.”
“The statute of limitations would not apply
because Nassar Haro had already been processed,” said the ex-U.S. Attorney who was the prosecutor in the case that culminated
with the Mexican agent fleeing to Tijuana, from the U.S., after he paid his bail.
Nuñez explained, that in spite of the more than 22
years that have passed, the crimes committed in the U.S. are not yet resolved. “Arrest
warrants do not expire,” he said. “He paid his bail but he never
returned to face the charges.”
Nuñez said that even without a U.S. extradition proceeding,
the Mexican justice (system) could try Nassar Haro for crimes committed in the U.S., according to Article 4 of the Federal
Penal Code of Mexico. Article 4 states that crimes committed abroad by a Mexican
will be punishable in Mexico, in accordance with federal laws, if the accused is in the country and (if the accused) has yet
to be tried abroad.
Nuñez revealed, that as a result of what happened
with Nassar Haro, there were political damages in Washington — mostly from friction caused by the involvement of intelligence
agencies and the Justice Department in a case that took place on the other side of the country, in California.
According to memory, there was a leak in Washington
about the investigations of the U.S. Attorney in San Diego. “Someone leaked
the information and made it public, that we were considering the indictment of Nassar Haro,” he recalled. “That was not authorized.”
The leak, that put the name of Nassar Haro in the
headlines of the main newspapers in the U.S., brought down a Justice Department official, Bill Kennedy, who the Reagan administration
blamed for revealing the “sensitive information.”
“Nassar Haro then came to the U.S., to file
suit against the newspapers for printing his name. It was not the best choice
he ever made. While he was here we charged and arrested him,” Nuñez said,
remembering the moment the ex-director of the DFS was taken into custody.
* Miguel Nazar Haro was recently detained,
in Mexico, on an arrest warrant issued by a Monterrey, Nuevo León, judge. The
ex-director of the infamous DFS, a now defunct domestic intelligence and security agency, is charged with authorizing the
1975 kidnapping of a youthful leftist — one of Mexico’s “disappeared” who were never to be heard from