The Texas trial of a former senior member of the Zetas drug cartel has put the ex-governor of Coahuila back in the limelight.
A witness at the trial of Marciano Millán Vázquez, one-time Zetas plaza chief of the Coahuila border city Piedras Negras, said he and other gang members made a delivery of US $2 million to Vicente Chaires Yáñez, described as having been close to Humberto Moreira, the state’s governor from 2005 until 2011, and former state prosecutor Jesús Torres Charles.
Another $2 million delivery was made at a gas station.
Rodrigo Humberto Tapia Uribe testified that payments were made by the Zetas in exchange for protection and that the money was intended for Moreira through “some type of agreement” that had been made with him.
He said the bribes allowed cartel members to buy their way out of criminal charges and gain access to state vehicles, including helicopters, to avoid detection by the Mexican military. They also bought control of the state prisons, Tapia testified, where cartel members had access to anything they wished, such as liquor, drugs, women and parties.
Millán went on trial this week on at least 10 charges, including drug trafficking and murder. The latter stem from the Allende massacre, in which as many as 300 people disappeared in 2011, and the murders of at least 150 people in the Piedras Negras penitentiary between 2009 and 2012.
U.S. authorities say Millán personally “shot, dismembered and burned bodies” not only to enforce orders but to terrorize anyone who might resist the cartel.
Tapia also testified that the former governor’s son, José Eduardo, who was assassinated in 2012, was killed by the Zetas after a nephew of cartel leader Miguel “El 40” Treviño Morales was killed by state police. The witness said the Zetas’ arrangements with the state government had broken down.
Ex-governor Moreira said in a statement to the media this week that he did not know Tapia and that during his time in office “no one I worked with offered me anything improper.”
He added: “Stop trying to connect me to the people who killed my son.”
Moreira was detained in Spain earlier this year on suspicion of money laundering and embezzling but later released for lack of evidence.
While he was governor the state’s debt rose from $200 million to $35 billion. He left the governor’s office several months early to run for election as national leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. He won the election but was forced to resign less than a year later because of the debt scandal.