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Former Mexican governor and presidential hopeful indicted by U.S.

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A federal indictment handed down by a grand jury in Brownsville, Texas, charging a former governor of one of Mexico's largest states with accepting large bribes from drug cartels, was unsealed on Monday by prosecutors, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, the former governor of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico -- and presidential hopeful -- along with a Mexican businessman, Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez, are charged with conspiring to violate provisions of the U.S. government's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute.

The original indictment was received from a federal grand jury sitting in Brownsville and then immediately sealed in May 2013.

The 56-year-old Gov. Yarrington and 57-year-old Cano, the owner of a Mexican construction firm, allegedly conspired to violate the provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, according to the indictment.

The two high-profile Mexicans were also charged with laundering money, conspiracy to defraud, and making false statements to federally insured (F.D.I.C.) U.S. banks.

Yarrington served five years as the governor of Tamaulipas, leaving office in 2004. Tamaulipas State is south of the border United Stated-Mexico directly across from Brownsville and Laredo, Texas.

Just before his indictment, Yarrington was considering a run for Mexico's presidency as part of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), a political party that had power over Mexico for more than 70 years. The PRI is a member of the Socialists International, as is the rival Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), making Mexico one of the few nations with two major, competing parties that are part of the same international socialist organization.

According to the investigators with the Office of the Mexican Attorney General, Yarrington received more than $8.5 million from the Gulf Cartel and the Juarez Cartel in eleven separate payments to finance his campaign for Governor of Tamaulipas in 1998

Gov. Yarrington is also charged with a conspiracy to violate the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, two bank fraud charges, and conspiracy to structure currency transactions at a domestic financial institution, while Cano is separately charged with three counts of bank fraud.

According to the indictment, between 1998 and 2009, Yarrington accepted large bribes from major drug trafficking organizations operating in his state. The bribes came from groups such as the Gulf Cartel. The accused politician allowed the drug traffickers to operate their drug business unimpeded.

Following his leaving elected office, Yarrington is accused by the U.S. government of actually becoming involved in smuggling huge amounts of cocaine through Veracruz, Mexico, into the United States.

As a governor, Yarrington is suspected of collecting bribes from legitimate companies including Cano's Materiales y Construcciones Villa de Aguayo, a construction firm in Tamaulipas that received significant public works contracts during Yarrington’s term as governor. Yarrington payment included real estate with front names to avoid identifying him as the owner.

The indictment further alleges that starting in 1998, Yarrington and Cano, became involved in the acquisition of valuable assets in the United States, using front names and business entities established starting in 2005 to disguise the true ownership of their assets. According to the indictment, bank accounts established in front names at Texas banks were used to receive and disburse money to carry the ongoing costs of the assets, such as loan costs and condo fees.

Neither Yarrington nor Cano is in the custody of the United States and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests, although several federal and Texas law enforcement agencies are actively pursuing them.

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