Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mexican Governor got Millions in Drug Cash

More on Tomas Yarrington and Antonio Pena-Arguelles:

By E. Eduardo Castillo
The Associated Press

U.S. drug agents have evidence that cartel leaders paid millions to a Mexican border state governor and other figures in Mexico's former ruling party in exchange for political influence, according to a court filing in Texas.

Confidential informants told Drug Enforcement Administration investigators that leaders of the Zetas and Gulf cartels made payments to Institutional Revolutionary Party members including Tomas Yarrington, who served as governor of Tamaulipas state in 1999-2004, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Antonio, Texas.

The affidavit says the DEA also has obtained ledgers documenting millions of dollars in payments to Yarrington's representatives.

Yarrington declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday.

The U.S. investigation could have ramifications for Mexico's July 1 presidential election. The candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has a strong lead in opinion polls and appears poised to retake the country's most powerful office 12 years after the party was unseated after seven decades of unchallenged rule. The PRI has been fending off allegations of criminal ties from the current ruling party, its main competitor in the vote.

The 13-page affidavit lays out in detail the DEA's case against Antonio Pena-Arguelles, an alleged cartel money-launderer who was arrested Wednesday in San Antonio.

It accuses him of using U.S. bank accounts to funnel millions to Yarrington from leaders of the Gulf and the Zetas. In 2004-2005 alone, it says, he and his brother received $4.5 million from the No. 2 leader of the Zetas, Miguel-Angel Trevino Morales.

The Zetas gang was started by Mexican special forces soldiers who dropped out of the military and initially worked as the Gulf cartel's enforcers before breaking away in 2010 to become a notoriously brutal nationwide cartel of their own, responsible for thousands of kidnappings, slayings and acts of extortion. The Zetas and Gulf cartel then went to war over control of the drug routes running into much of southern Texas, turning Tamaulipas one of Mexico's most violent states.

One of the DEA's four informants told investigators that "during early 2000, Antonio Pena-Arguelles began receiving large amounts of drug proceeds on behalf of Osiel Cardenas, head of the Gulf Cartel, in exchange for political influence within the government in Tamaulipas," the complaint says.

Mauricio Fernandez, head of the DEA's San Antonio office, described the complaint as the result of a lengthy and continuing investigation.

"It's an ongoing matter right now," he said. "A lot of people are working on this."

Mexican prosecutors said late last month that they were investigating former Tamaulipas officials in connection with unspecified federal crimes, a category that includes money-laundering and drug-related crimes. Yarrington and two other former PRI governors, Manuel Cavazos, who served until 1999, and Eugenio Hernandez, who left office in 2010, publicly acknowledged that they were subjects of the probe but denied any links to crime.

In the wake of the revelations, the PRI accused the governing National Action Party, the PAN, its main opponent in the July election, of manipulating criminal justice for political ends.

The PRI's presidential candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, appeared several days later at a rally in Tamaulipas hand-in-hand with Cavazos in a public show of support for the ex-governor, who is now running for a Senate seat.

The centerpiece of Mexican President Felipe Calderon's six-year term has been his heavy militarized fight against drug cartels, and the PAN has been increasingly attempting to paint the PRI as unable to move away from the corruption that marked the autocratic rule that ended with its presidential loss to the PAN in 2000.

Calderon's party seized on the DEA court filing as evidence that the PRI has links to organized crime.

"For months the National Action Party has expressed its concern about the evidence constantly coming to light that current and former PRI governors could be allowing organized-crime groups to operate," Gustavo Madero, chairman of the PAN's national executive committee, told reporters.

Pena Nieto did not directly address the accusations in the DEA affidavit when questioned about them Friday. Standing beside him, PRI head Joaquin Coldwell struck a softer tone than in previous party statements about the probe of the ex-governors.

"Every party member is responsible for his own conduct and behavior, and each party member must carry out his own legal defense," Coldwell said. "What we ask for in this case and others that present themselves ... is that the justice system isn't used in a partisan way, for electoral purposes, and that the constitutional rights of the people who are investigated are respected."

Politicians have long been under pressure from cartels in Tamaulipas. In 2010, gunmen believed linked to one of the cartels ambushed a convoy carrying the leading PRI gubernatorial candidate, Rodolfo Torre, killing him and four of his companions. Torre's brother then ran for the governorship and won.

According to the DEA complaint in Texas, Pena-Arguelles' older brother Alfonso was found slain by a monument in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, last year. Next to his body was a banner accusing Antonio Pena-Arguelles of stealing $5 million from the Zetas. DEA informants said the money had been intended to buy the Zetas influence in the Tamaulipas government through Yarrington's connections, the affidavit says.

On the morning of his brother's death, Antonio Pena-Arguelles received a cellphone text message from Trevino, the Zetas' No. 2, accusing him, Yarrington and the head of the Gulf cartel, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, of orchestrating Torre's slaying, the complaint says.

Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in San Antonio contributed to this report.


  1. Their time is almost up! Next is Carlos Salinas De Gortari, who is financing Pena Nieto's presidential campaign, hoping that he and his brother Raul would get presidential protection for their crimes commited during his term as president of Mexico. Sorry Mr. De Gortari but it is about time you pay your dues.

  2. jaja oh yea youre right Carlos Salinas is next, what is he going to be arrested?....what a joke of a comment for 100 different reasons

    1. Yes! If you lived in Monterrey, Mex., you would know, there is a lot of talking about it. Can you post at least one of those 100 reasons? Today he doesn't have any political power and his wealth won't last forever.

  3. he is as big of shit as the people he was protecting

  4. This is just old news coming up because PAN is losing air on it's third time going under. Desperation on PAN's part. Show me some real corruption such as the PAN politicians Chapo is paying off. Thats were the real money is being paid. Not this nickel dime 1 million BS.

  5. These allegations about Tomas Yarrington are old news, and there's little doubt that many politicians, especially in northern states like Tamaulipas and Baja California Norte, are paid off by organized crime figures.

    Still, these are minor crimes and misdemeanors compared to the carnage that President Calderon is responsible for. This horrible man has unleashed the army on his own people, causing a downward spiral of violence which has no end in sight.

    Thousands of people have disappeared, and thousands more have been murdered, many of them at the hands of the army or police, who are supposed to be fighting criminal organizations, but have ended up targeting whoever they can get their hands on, even innocent teenagers, picked up by the police for no reason other than frequenting a bar known for association with organized crime.

    Many of these innocent victims are beaten to death and dumped in a ditch, because they couldn't answer the army or police questioning, because they really didn't know anything.

    1. You are talking shit. President Calderon didn't unleashed the army on the people. He put the army on the streets to fight the drug cartels. The cartels had already killed thousands of civilians. I know there has been some civilians killed in the crossfire, most of them by the traffickers because they lack training and tactics. Like in any war there is always collateral damage and it hurts, two members of my immediate family got killed like that, in the crossfire, coming back from a school party. But there is nothing we can do. So far Calderon has been the best president Mexico ever had, and we thank the soldiers and marines for risking their lives defending us and fighting the drug cartels. Do you really think that you are man enough to fight the Z's or the Sinaloa Cartel or any of this drug traffickers?

  6. "Still, these are minor crimes and misdemeanors compared to the carnage that President Calderon is responsible for. This horrible man has unleashed the army on his own people, causing a downward spiral of violence which has no end in sight."

    What? I wish Calderon had killed 10 times as many as have been killed. He needs to kill thousands in Nuevo Laredo alone to rid the city of the Zetas. I wish the military had death squads cleaning the country like the AUC did in Colombia. There need to be a LOT of massacres.

  7. I thought i knew stupid people until i read your comment. I live in matamoros, i dont learn about it in the papers, i see it.

  8. if mexico elects pena nieto mexico will go into chaos and penanieto and all his PRI will rob the people till leaving them with nothing.. that guys is the devil in disguise

  9. Siskiyou_Kid You are here talking shit about Calderon?
    I don't understand it, do you think Calderon want it to attack organized crime just because? Do you think it was an unprovoked reason that Calderon attack this criminals?.

    Come on, grow up Siskiyou_Kid

    What I'm happy about is that Calderon is not only attacking organized crime, he is also attacking corruption at all levels in the government. Calderon is not perfect and nothing is easy, it took 10 years for the most powerful country in the world to kill Osama Bin Laden and let me tell you the war in Afghanistan and Iraq were not perfect and more than 1.3 million people have died and more than 1.3 trillions were spend.

    watch this two videos and come back and talk to me about war atrocities and abuse of power.

  10. @2:44 I didn't watch your Frontline video, but from the title I imagine it contains plenty of instances of extrajudicial military abuses by the Bush Administration, examples of lies used to gain permission from congress for the wars, and the obscene amounts of money paid to mercenaries and war profiteers, like Blackwater, Haliburton, etc.

    My problem with Calderon is his naive and misguided approach that concentrates on narcotics, while kidnappings, extortion, murder, and torture plague the country. Much of the violence is from petty gangs, possibly loosely affiliated with a cartel, who have free reign.

    Calderon has made a bad situation much worse, and has offered no apologies to the families of innocent victims, calling all the victims criminals.

    On top of this, Calderon has refused to address the root of the cause of violent crime in Mexico: The unbelievable gap between rich and poor in Mexico.

    Mexico will be politically unstable as long as the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, who further prey on the 50% of the people who are desperately poor, surviving on less than $5 a day, with monopolies on basic needs, and massive profits on the back of those who do have jobs.

  11. It doesn't get any more ignorant that this! All these people talking shit about President Calderon while they cowar behind a computer leaving the fight to him and the military!!!

  12. El_Regio said...
    It doesn't get any more ignorant that this! All these people talking shit about President Calderon while they cowar behind a computer leaving the fight to him and the military!!!

    Do these same people want the status quo to continue?At least Calderon,has said,enough is enough,not just cartel wars,but the tackling of endemic corruption,did anyone think this was going to be easy?I myself wouldn't have had the courage to tackle this problem,but people are actually blaming him for making a bad situation?How much worse could the situation have gotten.Do you people ever want anything to be done about this catastrophe?Or just leave tings the way they are?


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