LOS ANGELES, JULY 26 -- A Honduran drug trafficker was found guilty today of racketeering, kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1985 abduction of U.S. drug agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena and his pilot, who were killed in Mexico.
The jury that convicted Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros acquitted him of Camarena's murder, a crime that has strained relations between the United States and Mexico.
Matta's lawyer, Martin Stolar, said outside court the verdict was inconsistent and showed "jury confusion." Stolar told reporters he believed extensive testimony about drug trafficking and corruption in the Mexican government had distracted jurors from the main issue -- Camarena's killing -- and created the confusion.
He said he would appeal the convictions, and asked U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie to overrule the jury's findings.
Matta was one of four defendants charged in the Camarena case, but the jurors did not return verdicts against the others nor did they give a progress report on deliberations.
Camarena, 31, was kidnapped off a street in Guadalajara, Mexico, in February 1985, tortured and interrogated by drug lords before being slain along with his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala Avelar. Their bodies were found a month later on a ranch 65 miles outside Guadalajara. U.S. authorities contended the killings were retribution for the pair's work that led to seizure of a huge shipment of marijuana.
Disputes between Mexico and the United States over the case have erupted on several occasions throughout the investigation and trials.
Matta, a wealthy Honduran businessman, showed little reaction to the verdict, except to shake his head slightly as if in disbelief.