By Chris Covert
A Veracruz state official demanded Monday that the government of Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa return the MP $25 million (USD $1.9 million) in cash seized February at a Toluca, Mexico state airport, according to Mexican news reports.
Subprocurador de Justicia del Estado, or deputy attorney general of Veracruz state Antonio Lezama Moo said at a press conference that he had forwarded a notification to the Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) or national attorney general that the office, which impounded the money, return it to Veracruz.
PGR officials impounded the cash stuffed into a suitcase and backpack after Policia Federal operatives arrested two individuals said to be Veracruz state employees. The arrests took place on a Friday night.
Since that time Veracruz officials have protested the money was intended to pay for a series of contracts by a Mexico state company 3 Industries for promotion services for three upcoming festivals.
Within a week of the arrests, an attorney for the company, Ricardo Sanchez Reyes Retana, announced to the press he was scheduled to meet with a representative of the PGR in Toluca to present a copy of the contact which called for payment by either electronic means or in cash.
PGR officials have vowed to retain the money until Veracruz officials can prove the money's origins.
Several politicians have jumped into the fray, including Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) president Gustavo Madero Munoz, who filed a complaint with the PGR just after the arrests demanding an investigation.
Mexico state, where the arrests were made and the cash impounded is the home state of Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who is also Mexico state's former governor.
Pena Nieto, who is a telegenic and popular politician leads by double digits over his nearest rival in current national polls.
|Enrique Pena Nieto|
Pena Nieto has also in the past ran afoul of election enforcement officials involving cash, including a Guerrero state complaint filed in January, 2011, which alleged Pena Nieto used public funds to help a political ally in the Guerrero state gubernatorial race. Angel Aguirre Rivero won the Guerrero governor's seat by 13 points.
Partido Revolucion Democratica (PRD) presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came out with a charge that specifically named Mexico, Veracruz and Zacatecas as states for which the MP $25 million were to be used to buy votes the upcoming election.
To read previous reports by the author on the Toluca arrests and cash seizure, click here, here and here
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com