Ex-Tamaulipas governor charged with dozens of cartel-related crimes expected to change plea

Border Crime

Tomas Yarrington (AP Photo/Jaime Puebla, File)

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — A former Mexican leader on trial for allegedly conspiring to assist a drug cartel will go before a federal judge next week to re-hear his charges and will likely plead guilty to the crimes.

Tomás Yarrington, 64, will face a re-arraignment on March 25 to re-hear charges relating to drug conspiracy charges that took place when he was governor of Tamaulipas and beyond.

Yarrington was originally indicted for these charges in 2018 after several years of avoiding authorities. He was arrested in Italy in 2017 for using a false passport before being extradited to the United States.

The former governor pleaded not-guilty to eight charges, including racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) conspiracy, conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana into the U.S., conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, committing false statements to financial institutions, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy to structure transactions to avoid reporting requirement.

Yarrington was originally accused by the United States in 2012 of laundering money to the Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel drug cartels during his time as Tamaulipas governor from 1999 to 2004. This money allowed these cartels to operate their large-scale drug operations freely, which included the smuggling of large quantities of drugs to the United States for distribution, prosecutors say.

He has also been linked to the murder of governor candidate Rodolfo Torre Cantu in 2010, who was killed by drug cartel members.

Yarrington is also accused of receiving bribe money during his campaign for Mexican president in 2005.

The indictment also accuses Yarrington of transferring stolen public funds into a United States bank account. Some of this stolen money was used to buy a Sabreliner 60 airplane.

Yarrington allegedly began receiving money from cartels in 1998 when he ran for governor. At this time he was mayor of Matamoros.

Also during this time, Yarrington allegedly began transferring valuable assets into the United States and claimed they were owned by fictitious businesses. Some of these assets were airplanes, vehicles and real estate in Bexar, Cameron, Hidalgo and Hays Counties.

Yarrington’s alleged link to these crimes has caused the forfeiture of several assets in his name, including 46 acres in Bexar County, a condo on South Padre Island, a Pilatus airplane and residences in Hidalgo and Hays counties.

With Yarrington pleading not guilty in 2018, it is likely that he requested a re-arraignment in an effort to change his plea and possibly receive a lighter sentencing.

Yarrington faces up to 65 years total in federal prison for these crimes.

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