Mexico has agreed to extradite a former governor of Tamaulipas to the United States to face money laundering charges, federal authorities said yesterday.
The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said in a statement that it notified Eugenio Hernández Flores of the decision that will clear the way for him to stand trial in a federal court in Texas.
Hernández was governor of the northern border state from 2005 to 2010 representing the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
He was arrested in October on charges of embezzlement related to the sale of public land through a prestanombres, or front man, in 2007.
In Texas, he is accused of money laundering, bank fraud and the operation of an illegal wire transfer business.
The ex-governor is suspected of receiving payments from the Zetas drug cartel while he was in office in exchange for allowing it to operate in Tamaulipas. He allegedly laundered the money both in United States banks and in real estate transactions in Mexico.
In 2012, Mexican authorities seized 10 residential properties owned by Hernández and froze his Mexican bank accounts.
A United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report said that he had links to cartels and the agency subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest.
U.S. authorities first requested the former governor’s extradition after he was arrested in October.
In yesterday’s statement, the SRE said that a judge in the state capital Ciudad Victoria ruled on January 22 that “the extradition requested presented complied with all the requirements of the applicable bilateral treaty.”
The federal government formally approved the request on March 15. However, the SRE stressed that the decision “does not prejudge [Hernández’s] guilt or innocence.”
The ex-governor still has the option to appeal the extradition ruling and his lawyer, Juan Jorge Olvera, Reyes said he would do so. He also said his client denies all charges against him.
Hernández is one of several former governors who face charges of corruption including Javier Duarte of Veracruz, Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo and César Duarte of Chihuahua. All three fled Mexico in an attempt to avoid prosecution.
The first two were extradited and returned to Mexico where they are currently in custody awaiting trial while the latter is believed to be in hiding in the United States.
Hernández’s predecessor in Tamaulipas, Tómas Yarrington, was arrested in Italy last year and is also wanted on corruption charges in Mexico and the United States. His extradition is currently in process in Italy.
Source: El Universal (sp)