Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mexican Gubernatorial Candidate Arrested on Drug Charges


A candidate for governor of Quintana Roo state has been arrested for allegedly having links to two of Mexico’s largest drug cartels, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Gregorio Sanchez faces drug and money laundering charges, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Sanchez, the candidate of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, provided “information and protection” to the Beltran Leyva and Los Zetas cartels, the AG’s office said.

“He also conducted transactions with resources that came from organized crime activities,” the AG’s office said.

Sanchez, the candidate of the PRD and the Convergencia parties in the July 4 gubernatorial election, was arrested at the airport in the Caribbean resort city of Cancun.

A PRD leader said Sanchez’s arrest was politically motivated.

The charges against Sanchez are “foolishness to put him in jail” or “invented” crimes alleged at a time when he is doing well in the polls, PRD president Jesus Ortega told MVS radio.

Sanchez, who served as mayor of the Cancun suburb of Benito Juarez, has a good shot at beating Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, gubernatorial candidate Roberto Borge, Ortega said.

“The fact is that Gregorio is in a really good position, he did well as mayor, and based on that work he gained ground as a viable candidate in the elections for governor,” the PRD leader said.

“The investigations of money movements are based on these protected witnesses, who are the same ones that the prosecutors move all over the place,” Ortega said.

The witnesses are “real mercenaries” who agreed to “block the candidacy” of Sanchez, the PRD leader said.

Sanchez’s arrest is a “grotesque” maneuver to bolster Borge’s chances of winning, Ortega said.

A warrant for Sanchez’s arrest was issued by a federal court in the western state of Nayarit, where the politician will be taken and held in prison, the AG’s office said.

The arrest warrant was requested by the AG’s office’s SIEDO organized crime unit.

Sanchez alleged recently that the Quintana Roo state government was spying on him.

Former Quintana Roo Gov. Mario Villanueva was extradited to the United States on drug charges on May 8, becoming the first ex-governor of a Mexican state to be sent abroad to face trial.

Villanueva, who was arrested in 2001, had been serving time in Mexico on a money laundering conviction.

The former governor allowed Colombian cocaine bound for the United States to pass through the resort city of Cancun during his six years in office, AG’s office spokesmen told Efe.

Villanueva, a member of the PRI, served as governor of Quintana Roo, which is in southeastern Mexico, from 1993 to 1999.

Mexico’s largest drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez, Beltran Leyva and Los Zetas cartels, and La Familia Michoacana.

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