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HONDURAN GUILTY OF CONSPIRING TO SLAY DEA AGENT

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The Drug Enforcement Administration's five-year crusade to avenge the murder of agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico attained its first U.S. conviction of a major drug figure in the case.

Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, a prominent Honduran businessman and convicted drug trafficker, was found guilty Thursday of conspiring to kidnap, torture and murder Camarena in support of a racketeering enterprise.The federal jury also convicted Matta of actually kidnapping Camarena and holding him for interrogation. But he was acquitted of the agent's murder.

Matta, 45, shook his head slightly when the verdict was read. Tears streamed down the faces of family members in court.

Jurors Friday were to resume deliberating the fate of three other defendants in the trial, the second U.S. prosecution in the case. In 1988, a former Mexican police officer and two Mexican drug traffickers were convicted of conspiracy charges stemming from the agent's slaying by Guadalajara's powerful drug cartel.