A former governor of Tamaulipas, Mexico on Thursday pleaded guilty in a Texas court for taking over $3.5 million in bribes for government contracts, which he then laundered in the United States.

Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, 64, was the governor of Tamaulipas from 1999 to 2005. Yarrington walked into U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle's courtroom shortly before 1 p.m.

The former governor was facing eight charges, which included alleged involvement with drug cartels from 1998 through 2013. He pleaded guilty to the money laundering count in a plea agreement for federal prosecutors to drop the other seven charges, Seattle Times reported

Yarrington's plea was accepted, and sentencing would be at a later date. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2018, after several years of avoiding authorities, according to MYRGV News.

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Charges Against Yarrington

Charges against him include Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy, conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana into the U.S., and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

He was also facing charges with committing false statements to financial institutions, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy to structure transactions to avoid the reporting requirement.

The U.S. government initially accused Yarrington in 2012 of laundering money to the Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel drug cartels during his time as governor, Mexico News Daily reported.

He was also accused of receiving bribe money from individuals and private companies in Mexico while he was governor and during his Mexican president campaign in 2005.

The government believes that over $3.5 million from those bribes was laundered in the U.S. by purchasing real estate and other personal property, including vehicles.

Yarrington was also believed to take out loans and buy property under borrowed names. Yarrington admitted that one of the illegally purchased properties was a condominium in Port Isabel, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Yarrington has agreed to forfeit the said property. Prosecutors had been pushing other property forfeitures. However, they were dismissed due to the plea agreement.

Money laundering has a maximum sentence of 20 years. However, the government has agreed to recommend a reduced sentence between 108 and 135 months, equating to eight or 11 years in prison.

"As part of the plea, Yarrington admitted he accepted bribes from individuals and private companies in Mexico to do business with the state of Tamaulipas while he served as governor," the statement of the Attorney's Office read.

From 2007 and 2009, the government alleged that the former governor was involved in the drug trafficking business.

Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston, refused to comment on why no drug-related charges were included in the plea despite prosecutors believing that Yarrington has ties with the cartels.

Yarrington also acknowledged that it was against Mexico's law to take bribes and bury the $3.5 million bribe money in the U.S. through buying real estate, cars, and other personal items.

Yarrington was arrested in Italy in 2017 for using a false passport before being extradited to the U.S.


Los Angeles Times reported that Tamaulipas had been an area most favored by organized crime groups, being the fourth most violent city in Mexico.

In 2019, more than two dozen migrants were kidnapped off buses in Tamaulipas, which was not far from the U.S. border.

According to Small Wars Journal, Tamaulipas makes a perfect place for criminal organizations due to weak local institutions, allowing an environment for crime to flourish.

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