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US charges Mexican ex-governor with helping drug cartel

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 10:24

Chicago: US prosecutors have unveiled criminal charges against a former Mexican governor accused of helping drug smugglers operate freely in his state in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.

Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, who served as governor of Tamaulipas from 1999 until 2004, was accused of accepting "large bribes" in exchange for turning a blind eye to the drug smuggling in his state from the time he was a candidate for office.

He was also accused of actively participating in the smuggling of large amounts of cocaine through the Port of Veracruz into the United States from 2007 until 2009, according to a US federal indictment unsealed yesterday.

The bribes were delivered by corrupt members of the state police and hidden in US bank accounts and Texas real estate, prosecutors said in a 53-page indictment.

Yarrington, 56, could spend the rest of his life in a US prison if he is arrested and convicted of the conspiracy, money laundering and bank fraud charges.

The charges, which were approved by a grand jury in May, come after a years-long investigation.

Yarrington`s membership in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was suspended last year after US prosecutors accused him of accepting bribes from drug cartels in a civil forfeiture case aimed at seizing his assets.

Yarrington served as mayor of Matamoros from 1992 to 1995 and was a presidential candidate in the 2005 election.

Prosecutors also charged Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez, 57, the owner of a Mexican construction firm who allegedly helped to hide the ill-gotten gains by setting up shell corporations and purchasing property on Yarrington`s behalf.

Tamaulipas is across the border from the Texas towns of Laredo and Brownsville.

The charges were filed in a Texas federal court.

First Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 10:24
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