Fugitive former Mexican governor captured in Italy

Former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington was wanted in both his home country of Mexico and the United States.

Story highlights

  • Tomas Yarrington was governor of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas from 1999-2004
  • He is accused of accepting bribes from the Gulf cartel in exchange for letting them operate in his state

(CNN)A fugitive Mexican ex-governor wanted by authorities both in his home country and the United States was captured in Italy Sunday, the Mexican attorney general's office said.

At one time, Tomas Yarrington was governor of the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas and was a candidate to be his party's nominee for the presidency. That was back in 2004, when his five-year term as governor was coming to a close.
    Dogged by allegations of taking bribes from drug cartels and money laundering, however, Yarrington's political ambitions were curtailed and he became a fugitive after a federal grand jury in neighboring Texas indicted him in 2013 for racketeering, money laundering and fraud.
    Three years later, the Mexican government filed its own criminal charges against Yarrington, offering a 15-million-peso (about $800,000) reward for information leading to his "whereabouts, detention or arrest."
    Yarrington's detention in Italy is related to the charges he faces in Mexico for organized crime and money laundering, the attorney general's office said in a statement.
    The detention was made possible thanks to a Red Notice from Interpol, a request for other nations to help Mexico enforce its arrest warrant for Yarrington.
    News of the Yarrington's capture quickly became a trending topic on social media, with many wondering if the disgraced governor would face trial, and if he does, whether the proceedings would be impartial. In a country that's trying to shake off the reputation of being soft on bringing the powerful to justice, the judicial process for Yarrington will be closely watched.
    "When they announce the arrest of a corrupt former PRI governor, now there isn't even jubilation, because we know what will happen," said a tweet from Rafael Montiel, translated from Spanish.
    Mexico's expectation is that the former governor will be repatriated to Mexico in the upcoming days in coordination with Italian authorities, the attorney general's office said.
    From 1999-2004, Yarrington was the governor of Tamaulipas, which shares more than 200 miles of border with Texas. The state's ports and international bridges make it a hub for trade, but it also known as the birthplace of the Gulf drug cartel and its enforcers-turned-rival-gang the Zetas.
    In federal court in Texas, Yarrington is accused of accepting bribes from the Gulf cartel in exchange for letting them operate in his state. The indictment states that the bribes date back to about 1998, and that Yarrington allegedly allowed the Gulf cartel to freely smuggle tons of drugs into the United States.
    The indictment also alleges that Yarrington and a business partner purchased residences, airplanes and real estate in Texas, allegedly via fraudulent bank loans.
    When the indictment initially came down, an attorney for Yarrington told the San Antonio Express-News that the charges were based on statements from individuals who themselves were facing criminal proceedings.
    "Their source of information is not to be trusted," Yarrington's attorney told the newspaper. "Yarrington denies all the charges."