Mexico extradited a former state governor to the United States on Saturday to face charges he helped move hundreds of metric tones of Colombian cocaine into America via the Caribbean tourist resort of Cancun.
Mario Villanueva, governor of Quintana Roo state from 1993 to 1999, was turned over to U.S. agents at an airport in Toluca, just east of the Mexican capital, Mexico's attorney general's office said in a statement.
Villanueva served a six-year sentence for money laundering after his arrest in Cancun in 2001. Following his release in 2007, he was rearrested on drug charges and ordered extradited to the United States.
The attorney general's office, citing a U.S. investigation, said Villanueva received up to half a million dollars for each shipment of cocaine he allowed to pass though his state. Cancun, Quintana Roo's most famous city, draws hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists every year who flock to its white beaches and turquoise sea.
Almost all the cocaine consumed in the United States is smuggled through Mexico. In recent years, the multibillion- dollar trade has fueled a bloody drug war in Mexico as cartels vie for control of smuggling routes.