• Yarrington was a former presidential candidate in Mexico
  • He was extradited from Italy in 2018
  • He was accused of drug trafficking and was linked with the Gulf Cartel 

A former Mexican governor who prosecutors believe was connected to a drug cartel pleaded guilty in a U.S court for accepting bribes in Mexico of more than $3.5 million to purchase properties in the U.S.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Jennifer Lowery noted in a press release that Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba had been charged for conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle accepted the plea and will set sentencing at a later date. Yarrington could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

From 1999 to 2005, Yarrington, 64, governed the state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas and is considered one of Mexico's most violent states. He also was an Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate in Mexico.

In 2013, Yarrington was charged with eight counts, including racketeering, drug smuggling and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Yarrington was arrested by authorities in April 2017 in Italy while traveling with forged identification documents and a false passport. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2018 and has been in custody since then.

According to the press release, Yarrington admitted in his plea deal that he purchased several properties including a condominium in Port Isabel, Texas. He admitted to accepting bribes from private companies to conduct business with the state of Tamaulipas.

The former governor also acknowledged that he knew it was against the law in Mexico to take bribes and to hide $3.5 million in illegal bribe money in the U.S. by purchasing real estate, cars, a private jet and other luxury items for personal use. Seven other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Yarrington agreed to forfeit the Port Isabel condominium.

U.S. officials have also tried to extradite another former governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernandez, on charges of money laundering. Tamaulipa's current governor, Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, from the conservative National Action Party, is being investigated on charges of organized crime, money laundering and tax evasion.

Yarrington was accused of taking bribes from the Gulf Cartel to allow large amounts of drugs to be smuggled into the U.S. According to News 18, Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston, declined to comment on the decision to drop drug-related charges from Yarrington’s plea.

The fall of Mexico's stock market and the value of its currency comes amidst global fears over the new coronavirus and plummeting oil prices
The fall of Mexico's stock market and the value of its currency comes amidst global fears over the new coronavirus and plummeting oil prices AFP / Ulises Ruiz