Latin America & Caribbean

Fugitive Mexico ex-governor Yarrington caught in Italy

File photo of Tomas Yarrington from 2005 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tomás Yarrington was governor of Tamaulipas, on the border with Texas, from 1999 to 2005

Police in Italy have arrested the former governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, Tomás Yarrington, 59.

Mr Yarrington, who served as governor from 1999 to 2005, had been on the run for almost five years.

The ex-governor is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels in return for turning a blind eye to their smuggling activities.

A reward of 15m Mexican pesos ($800,000; £650,000) had been offered for information leading to his arrest.

Image copyright PGR
Image caption The office of the attorney-general in Mexico offered a large reward for information about Mr Yarrington's whereabouts.

Officials did not reveal how they located Mr Yarrington.

The attorney-general's office in Mexico said Mr Yarrington would be extradited to his homeland within days.

'Cocaine for access'

He is also wanted by the United States on charges of money laundering.

According to the US indictment, Mr Yarrington allegedly received large bribes from major drug traffickers operating in Tamaulipas, including the Gulf and the Zetas cartels.

In return, Mr Yarrington allegedly allowed the cartels "to operate their large-scale, multi-tonne enterprises freely, which included the smuggling of large quantities of drugs to the US for distribution".

Prosecutors say the bribes started when Mr Yarrington was running for governor and continued during his time in office, when he allegedly started investing the money in properties across the US border in Texas.

The indictment also accuses him of accepting cocaine in exchange for facilitating access to Mexican ports.

Before he went on the run, Mr Yarrington, who was a member of the governing PRI party before being expelled, said the charges against him were politically motivated.

He was not the only Mexican governor on the run.

Former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte, who is wanted on corruption charges, has been missing since October.

And in March, the ex-governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte, was declared a fugitive after he disappeared following allegations of corruption.

Both were expelled from the PRI party when the charges against them became known.

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