DALLAS (AP) - Federal prosecutors have indicated they will seek the extradition of a former Mexican governor indicted in the United States for racketeering and money laundering.
American authorities say Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba took millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel as it smuggled cocaine and marijuana through the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, where Yarrington was governor from 1999 to 2004.
In court documents filed this week, prosecutors asked for three certified copies of an arrest warrant for Yarrington and a co-defendant, Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez. Prosecutors said in one document that they would seek extradition of both men and that copies of the warrant were part of the package required by Mexico to seek extradition.
Yarrington’s U.S.-based attorney, Joel Androphy of Houston, confirmed Thursday that his client is not in the United States or in custody.
Androphy said that once prosecutors finish their application for Yarrington’s extradition, a judge in Mexico would hear evidence in the case and decide whether to send Yarrington to the United States.
“They may decide to seek some sort of extradition in the future from Mexico, but for now, this is just premature,” Androphy said. “And I think they’ll have a difficult time, too.”
An indictment filed in May alleges that members of the Gulf Cartel paid bribes to Yarrington and other elected officials to “continue their illegal business with little or no interference from police authorities operating in the State of Tamaulipas.”
The indictment alleges Yarrington purchased a luxury condominium on South Padre Island, Texas, just across the border from Tamaulipas, and had access to a private plane purchased with money stolen from Mexican public funds, along with other real estate and bank accounts.
The charges against Yarrington include conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana, racketeering, and bank fraud.
Androphy said he could prove that deposits in Yarrington’s bank accounts were legitimate and not part of a criminal conspiracy, and that several potential government witnesses were threatened with deportation of family members if they did not cooperate against Yarrington.
He said Yarrington had been in the United States before an initial indictment was returned, but returned to Mexico after his visa expired.
“The fact that he’s not around is not Yarrington’s issue,” Androphy said. “It’s the government’s fault.”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston did not return a phone message Thursday.
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