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NEW PLEA ARRANGEMENT IN DRUG CASE SAVES DEA AGENT A TRIP TO OKLAHOMA

SHARE NEW PLEA ARRANGEMENT IN DRUG CASE SAVES DEA AGENT A TRIP TO OKLAHOMA

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent Steve Lough can stop packing - he won't be flying from Salt Lake City to Muskogee, Okla., to testify in the trial of accused drug lord Jose Leonardo Contreras-Subias, after all.

After a guilty plea in Utah last year, Contreras-Subias was taken to Oklahoma by the U.S. Marshal Service, where he was being tried on 57 federal charges of laundering millions of dollars in land purchases in Oklahoma and Texas.On Monday, he and three co-defendants suddenly agreed to a plea arrangement, in which they pleaded guilty to three federal charges, interstate transportation in aid of racketeering. That halted the trial.

Lough was planning to testify, until he was informed by the Deseret News that the trial was over.

The defendants will forfeit $5 million that the government claims was obtained through illegal drug deals.

As part of the agreement, Contreras-Subias was sentenced to 15 years in prison, to run concurrently with a 13-year sentence he is serving for cocaine conspiracy and bail jumping.

Contreras-Subias is a suspect in the killings of at least three Mexican officers. He escaped from custody at least twice, most lately by jumping bail in California.

He is also wanted for questioning in the February 1985 torture-killings of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena and his pilot, Alfredo Zavala.

He jumped bail in California after an indictment that accused him of selling cocaine to an undercover officer, and lived as a fugitive until he was captured on April 1, 1988, in Salt Lake City.

He was then charged in U.S. District Court with five counts of possession of illegal and forged identification documents. Investigators said he owned cattle ranches in Oklahoma and Texas, had bank deposits of at least $3.5 million, and had been living off and on in northern Utah at the time of his arrest.

When he was arrested, he was using the alias Jose Gonzalez-Gullian. "We identified him as the DEA fugitive Jose Contreras-Subias, who is also wanted out of the Republic of Mexico on a number of homicides," Lough said Tuesday.

"We knew this fellow Jose Gonzalez-Gullian was in town buying property."

An investigation showed he was really the highly wanted fugitive Contreras-Subias.

"He wasn't doing drugs here. He was here buying property in an attempt, I believe, to hide."

He pleaded guilty in federal court on the false documents charges, and faces up to 10 years in prison on those charges alone.