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Mexican official caught stealing White House Blackberries, invokes diplomatic immunity; Update: "Asked to resign"

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 24, 2008 11:54 AM

Scroll down for updates…

You are not going to believe this story. It is really something else. The White House, I predict, will look the other way at the flagrant law-breaking by a Mexican official caught on tape by the Secret Service filching U.S. government property. After all, looking the other way at systemic law-breaking by Mexico is the official Bush policy. Fox News has the scoop:

Whether he was up to no good or simply desperate to play BrickBreaker, a Mexican press attaché was caught on camera by Secret Service pocketing several White House BlackBerries during a recent meeting in New Orleans, FOX News has learned.

Sources with knowledge of the incident said the official, Rafael Quintero Curiel, served as the lead press advance person for the Mexican Delegation and was responsible for handling logistics and guiding the Mexican media around at the conference. He took six or seven of the handheld devices from a table outside a special room in the hotel where the Mexican delegation was meeting with President Bush earlier this week.

Everyone entering the room was required to leave his or her cell phone, BlackBerry and other such devices on the table, a common practice when high-level meetings are held. American officials discovered their missing belongings when they were leaving the session.

It didn’t take long before Secret Service officials reviewed videotape taken by a surveillance camera and found footage showing Quintero Curiel absconding with the BlackBerries.

At first, Quintero Curiel denied the criminal acts. But when confronted with the tape, he chalked it up to an “accident”–then promptly invoked diplomatic immunity:

He initially denied taking the devices, but after agents showed him the DVD, Quintero Curiel said it was purely accidental, gave them back, claimed diplomatic immunity and left New Orleans with the Mexican delegation.

It is unclear what disciplinary measures, if any, await him in Mexico. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino refused to discuss the incident, telling FOX News, “We are aware of the situation, but as it’s under investigation by law enforcement officials, we will decline to comment.”

Just looting the White House electronic devices Americans won’t loot…

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Now, imagine if it were an American government official caught south of the border stealing Mexican government property.

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Update: USAToday followed up and reports that the official has been “asked to resign”…

The Mexican Embassy says press aide Rafael Quintero was asked to resign upon his arrival in Mexico City.

“Mr. Quintero will be responsible for explaining his actions to the American authorities conducting an investigation,” Ricardo Alday, an embassy spokesman, tells USA TODAY in an e-mail. “The Mexican Government deeply regrets this incident.”

Contrary to the Fox News report, the embassy says Quintero flew home on a commercial flight and didn’t travel with President Felipe Calderon and his delegation after the summit.

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