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Campaign of Mexican candidate calls drug allegations political

By Nick Valencia , CNN
  • Candidate's campaign calls accusations politically motivated
  • Campaign says Sanchez detained for 2 hours while authorities made allegations
  • He is on leave of absence from Cancun mayorship during campaign
  • Officials accuse him of ties to Beltran Leyva and Los Zetas cartels

(CNN) -- The campaign of a Mexican gubernatorial candidate vehemently denied accusations Wednesday that he has ties to drug cartels, calling the allegations politically motivated.

Gregorio Sanchez, who is running for governor for the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, was detained Tuesday. The country's federal attorney general's office accused him of providing protection to two drug cartels: Beltran Leyva and Los Zetas.

Sanchez also is involved in other organized crime activities, the attorney general's office said.

Sanchez is the mayor of the popular Mexican resort area of Cancun. He has taken a leave of absence from the office while he runs as a candidate for governor for PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution).

His campaign coordinator, Gerardo Mora, told CNN early Wednesday that authorities held Sanchez for two hours while they issued a news statement about the allegations.

"If you like to track us and where we've gone and who we've spoken to, you can check our itinerary for the last three months," Mora said. "The question that needs to be asked is, why now? Why was he detained now? Because during our campaign we have shown that we are a threat."

Sanchez's party is part of the opposition coalition.

Earlier this month, a former governor of Quintana Roo -- Mario Ernesto Villanueva Madrid -- was extradited to the United States on charges that he accepted millions of dollars can bribes from the notorious Juarez Cartel in exchange for assisting in the import of more than 200 tons of cocaine into the United States, the U.S. Attorney General's Office in New York said.