Mexican Ex-Governor Arrested in Italy After Five Years on the Run

Tomas Yarrington poses after a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico May 23, 2005. Daniel Aguilar/File Photo/Reuters

A former state governor accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from Mexican drug cartels has been arrested in Italy after five years on the run.

Tomás Yarrington, 59, who was governor of the state of Tamaulipas, was arrested in Italy, Mexico’s attorney general’s office said in a statement on April 9. He is accused of accepting millions in bribes from cartels in exchange for turning a blind eye to narcotics smuggling.

Yarrington was on the run for five years and had a bounty of 15 million Mexican pesos ($800,000) on his head. He is expected to be extradited back to Mexico within days.

U.S. authorities are also pursuing the former governor over allegations that he used the cash to invest in properties in America. According to a 2013 FBI indictment, Yarrington accepted bribes from criminal organizations including the Gulf Cartel, and “allowed them to operate their large scale, multi-ton enterprises freely, which included the smuggling of large quantities of drugs to the U.S for distribution.”

It continued: “From 2007 to 2009, Yarrington allegedly became involved in the smuggling of large amounts of cocaine through the Port of Veracruz into the United States.”

Mexican authorities have charged him with involvement in organised crime and money laundering, and said his arrest was made possible by an Interpol red notice.

Before he went on the run, Yarrington claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.  He was suspended from Mexican President Enrique Nieto’s PRI party in 2012.

Yarrington is not the only Mexican governor to have gone on the run. Former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte has been missing since October after being accused of embezzlement, and César Duarte, ex-governor of Chihuahua, was declared a fugitive in March after being accused of corruption.