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US goes after ex-Mexican governor's Texas propertyUS prosecutors: Ex-Mexican governor's Texas properties bought with bribes from drug cartels
McALLEN, Texas (AP) ' The former governor of a Mexican state bordering Texas accepted millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels and invested the money in Texas real estate, federal prosecutors alleged in two forfeiture cases filed Tuesday.
No criminal charges have been filed against Tomas Yarrington, who served as governor of Tamaulipas state from 1999 to 2004. But the civil actions allege that Yarrington "acquired millions of dollars in payments" while in public office from drug cartels "and from various extortion or bribery schemes."
Yarrington then used various front men and businesses "to become a major real estate investor through various money laundering mechanisms," according to documents filed in Corpus Christi. The other forfeiture case was filed in San Antonio.
U.S. authorities are trying to confiscate a condominium in South Padre Island and a 46-acre property in San Antonio.
An attorney for Yarrington in Houston said he was reviewing the documents released late Tuesday and did not immediately comment.
Yarrington also served as the mayor of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, from 1992 to 1995. Matamoros has been the headquarters of the Gulf cartel.
The Corpus Christi case alleges that Yarrington used a Mexican businessman who'd had contracts with the city of Matamoros and Tamaulipas to be the official buyer of the $450,000 condominium in South Padre Island in 1998. The property was placed in that man's name to avoid detection by law enforcement, prosecutors allege.
Yarrington paid for the condo entirely with drug proceeds, according to the forfeiture case, and has used it since 1998.
Documents filed in the San Antonio forfeiture case note that the details of that transaction remain under seal, but a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office said the 46-acre property also was allegedly obtained with "illicit funds" by Yarrington and others.
Federal prosecutors also released Tuesday the indictment of another Mexican businessman who allegedly received and distributed bribes from the Gulf cartel to Tamaulipas officials to guarantee minimal police interference in the cartel's activities.
The indictment of Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez in Brownsville on money laundering charges alleges that he and "one or more unindicted co-conspirators" used a $6.7 million bank loan to buy a 46-acre property in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located.
The indictment alleges that Cano set up several front businesses in Texas that took out millions of dollars in loans from various banks that he personally guaranteed for real estate investments and in one case to purchase an airplane. And from 2007 to 2009, Cano and others used at least 10 different bank accounts in Mexico to move tens of millions of pesos to a Mexican money transmitter, which then moved them on to several accounts in U.S. banks, according to the indictment.
That indictment also seeks a $20 million forfeiture from Cano that he had represented as his net worth.
Cano, of Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, remains at large. No attorney was listed for him.
Associated Press writer Michael Weissenstein in Mexico City contributed to this report.
Related Keywords:Drug War-Mexico,Bribery, graft and conflicts of interest,Drug-related crime,State governments,Crime,General news,Government and politics,Organized crime