Four high-ranking Mexican military officers were released from custody Friday after the case against them for alleged collusion with a drug cartel fell apart.
Gens. Ricardo Escorcia, Ruben Perez Ramirez and Roberto Dawe and Lt. Col. Silvio Isidro Hernandez walked out of Altiplano prison before dawn.
Their erstwhile co-defendant, Maj. Ivan Reyna, will remain behind bars in connection with a separate extortion charge.
Another officer charged in the cartel case, retired Gen. Tomas Angeles Dauahare, was freed on April 17 due to lack of evidence.
The four men released Friday spent more than a year in custody on accusations they aided the now-defunct Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
The case was initiated during the 2006-2012 administration of President Felipe Calderon, who gave the armed forces the leading role in the struggle with the cartels.
The militarization strategy was accompanied by an explosion of violence and the drug war claimed around 70,000 lives under Calderon.
For the jailed officers, the Dec. 1, 2012, change in government represented “a light at the end of the tunnel,” Gen. Escorcia told reporters Friday, adding that he still doesn’t know why he and his colleagues were ever charged.
He also asked current President Enrique Peña Nieto to find out who was behind the arrest of the officers.
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