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Mexico Admits Zapatista Drug Report Untrue

Date Published: 
January 01, 0001

MEXICO CITY, June 23 (Reuters) - The Mexican government admitted on Thursday that a military report of marijuana plantations in Zapatista rebel territory that raised tensions in the state of Chiapas was not true.

A Defense Ministry report on Monday had said almost 200 soldiers destroyed 44 marijuana plantations in Chiapas in three drug raids on rebel soil last week.

But government spokesman Ruben Aguilar acknowledged the raids were not in areas controlled by the Zapatistas.

"The three municipalities where they found those 44 plantations are not in the Zapatistas' zone of influence but near them," he told journalists.

Zapatistas and their supporters abandoned dozens of the villages they control this week after elusive leader Subcomandante Marcos announced the group was holding consultations on "a new step in the struggle."

It was unclear what direction the rebels, who emerged in 1994, might take. There has been no fighting in the region for years.