Tomás Yarrington: Fugitive Mexican ex-governor caught by police in Italy

Former Tamaulipas state governor is charged with drug smuggling, bank fraud, racketeering and money laundering 

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The Independent US

A fugitive and former Mexican governor wanted on charges of drug smuggling, bank fraud, racketeering and money laundering has been caught by police in Italy.

Tomás Yarrington, the 59-year-old former governor of Mexico’s north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, had been wanted by authorities for nearly five years and has been detained by police in Florence, according to Mexico’s attorney-general’s office. He is expected to be extradited to Mexico within days.

US authorities have accused Mr Yarrington of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and other traffickers since 1998, when he was the mayor of Matamoros on the US border.

He became governor of Tamaulipas between 1999 and 2005 and is further accused of accepting bribes from cartels for ignoring their drug smuggling activities across the border, the BBC reports, and for money laundering in Texas. He was indicted by the US in 2013. 

Mexican authorities also want Mr Yarrington on charges of “organised crime and money laundering, among others”. Authorities had offered 15m Mexican Pesos (£650,000) for information that would lead to the arrest of the former governor. His capture on Sunday was made possible due to an Interpol red notice, authorities said.

Mexico President Nieto's approval ratings fall to 23%

US authorities will also be seeking Mr Yarrington’s extradition, the Wall Street Journal reported. Before becoming a fugitive, the former governor maintained he was innocent and a victim of politically motivated charges.

Mr Yarrington was suspended from President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 2012 on grounds of corruption. He is one of several former politicians from the party to have been suspended.

The PRI responded to the former governor’s arrest in a statement, saying the party backed the work of the attorney-general’s office and asked for all necessary investigations to be carried out.

In March, a Mexican judge issued an arrest warrant for former Chihuahua state governor Cesar Duarte, also a member of Mr Nieto's ruling party, on suspicion of embezzlement. Javier Duarte, the former governor of Veracruz, who is also wanted on corruption charges, is also missing.

Additional reporting by Reuters