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    Fugitive Mexican Ex-Governor Tomás Yarrington Arrested in Italy

    Italian police detained a former governor of a violent and drug-plagued Mexican border state on Sunday, on charges of racketeering and money laundering, a top official at Mexico’s attorney-general office said.
    Tomás Yarrington, the former governor of Tamaulipas state, had been a fugitive from Mexican justice for almost five years, the official said. Last year, Mexico offered a reward of about $800,000 for information leading to his capture. It is not known whether the reward was paid.

    Mr. Yarrington, who was detained in Florence, also faces charges of drug trafficking and financial crimes in the U.S., where he was indicted in 2013. The U.S. indictment accused Mr. Yarrington of taking bribes from Mexican drug cartels and state contractors and laundering the money in Texas.

    The Mexican official said Mr. Yarrington is expected to be extradited to Mexico in the coming days. Legal representatives for Mr. Yarrington in Italy could not be reached. U.S. prosecutors will also seek his extradition, a U.S. official said. Mr. Yarrington has said that he is innocent and the victim of false politically-tainted accusations.
    Mr. Yarrington’s arrest is a victory for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose government has been harshly criticized for allegedly protecting corrupt governors of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI.
    Along with Mr. Yarrington, 60, a former PRI member, who governed Tamaulipas between 1999 and 2004, four other former PRI governors are fugitives from Mexican and U.S. law.
    Mr. Yarrington’s successor in Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández, is wanted on money-laundering charges in the U.S., as is Jorge Torres López, interim governor of the border state of Coahuila. The other two governors face corruption charges in Mexico. All of the fugitive former governors said they were innocent before dropping out of sight.
    Corruption among senior state officials is a major hurdle for Mexico in its fight against the drug cartels, analysts say. Last month, the top prosecutor of the Pacific-coast state of Nayarit was arrested in San Diego after being indicted in New York on charges of trafficking heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana.
    Mr. Yarrington is accused of receiving bribes from the Gulf Cartel and the cartel’s one-time enforcers, the Zetas, to help them smuggle drugs to the U.S., the top official at Mexico’s attorney-general office said. The Zetas later broke off from the Gulf Cartel and formed their own drug-trafficking group.
    A Mexican official said Mr. Yarrington spent much of his time as a fugitive wandering around Europe, and lived for a long time in France. Mr. Yarrington was arrested following a joint Italian-Mexican investigation, the official said.

    Source: Wall Street Journal

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