US: Former Mexican Governor Indicted for Corruption

Federal prosecutors said Monday that a United States grand jury has charged former Mexican governor Tomás Jesús Yarrington Ruvalcaba with money laundering, drug trafficking, and accepting bribes, InSight Crime reports.

Yarrington, 56, is accused of colluding with Mexican cartels which smuggled drugs into the US during his stint as the governor of the state of Tamaulipas. According to prosecutors, he accepted bribes in the form of cocaine and millions of dollars from 1999 when he ran for governor through his tenure ending in 2004. In exchange, prosecutors say Yarrington allowed the cartels access to Mexican ports and turned a blind eye to smuggling activity.

Yarrington is a former Mexican congressman and former mayor of the northern city of Matamoros. Prosecutors say he  worked with the Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas, and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel.

According to local outlet The San Antonio Express-News, American federal prosecutors in Brownsville, Texas also charged Yarrington with smuggling cocaine into the US between 2007 and 2009. Texas shares a border with Tamaulipas.

Prosecutors say that in February 2012 signs of a relationship between the drug cartels and Yarrington and other former governors of Tamaulipas emerged. US authorities also began seeking Fernando Alejandro Cano Martínez, an associate of Yarrington's, for financial crimes.

Several months later, Yarrington disappeared. Mexican authorities subsequently issued an international arrest warrant for the former governor and once presidential hopeful in August 2012 and he is being sought by US authorities.

Yarrington's lawyer said that his client is innocent and the target of a politically motivated attack, according to the BBC. He also said that Yarrington was not hiding from authorities.

InSight Crime describes the case against Yarrington and the other former governors as "clear examples of the sort of high level corruption common to criminal strongholds such as Tamaulipas." The powerful Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas are known to operate extensively in Tamaulipas.