Professor accused of drug trafficking remains behind bars

A UT Memphis pharmacology professor didn't get out of jail Thursday as he hoped..  At a federal court hearing, prosecutors said they have proof Marcello Asura is a dangerous drug trafficker.

Marcello Arsura will stay in jail until a federal judge decides whether to reverse a lower court decision to let him out. Arsura is accused of trafficking methamphetamines.

"I don't know why they would single him out on a case in which he appears to be facing five years under the sentencing guidelines," said Arsura's attorney, Robert Brannon.

Brannon argued in a detention hearing that Arsura has enough restrictions under the conditions of his release, with house arrest, monitoring and a $50,000 bond.

But prosecutors appealed that release.  Investigators took the witness stand to explain taped phone calls between Arsura and a confidential informant.  Prosecutors said those calls showed Arsura to be a violent drug trafficker.

Arsura's attorney argued his client said very little on those tapes, and that many of the government's own witnesses against Arsura have far worse records.

"Many of the government witnesses themselves have criminal convictions, were stopped under circumstances that seem much more grievous than Mr. Arsura's, and seem to themselves have a more violent nature than Mr. Arsura," he said.

In a few days, he'll find out whether that's enough to gain a judge's trust with relative freedom.  Arsura is due back in court next week.