Mexican drug lord who was jailed for killing U.S. agent granted house arrest

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The 76-year-old Mexican drug lord Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo has been granted house arrest after three decades in jail by a district judge, prosecutors said on Monday.

A legendary figure in the drug world and co-founder of the Guadelajara cartel, Felix Gallardo was a pioneer in trafficking large shipments of cocaine to the United States in alliance with the deceased Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

The former police officer was jailed in 1989 for the murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent.

Felix Gallardo, who has recently spent time in hospital and is reportedly in poor health, is expected to move to house arrest as early as Tuesday, according to media reports.

The federal prosecutors office told Reuters they had challenged the decision.

The U.S. embassy in Mexico was not immediately available for comment.

The news comes after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last year he was open to releasing Felix Gallardo on the basis of old age and poor health.

"I do not want anyone to suffer. I do not want anyone to be in jail," Lopez Obrador said at the time, adding that prosecutors would review the case.

The leftist president has also previously backed the release of thousands of inmates who are elderly, victims of torture or suffered from health problems, as well as those who committed non-serious crimes.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Díaz and Isabel Woodford; Editing by Stephen Coates)