Ex-Mexican governor Eugenio Hernandez has been charged with money laundering in association with Mexican gangs, abuse of position of trust and similar charges, the US announced on Friday.
Eugene Hernandez Flores, 57, who was elected and held the post of governor in the state of Tamaulipas from 2005-2010; and his brother in law, Oscar Gomez Guerra; are being charged on accounts of fraud and the establishment or a money laundering mechanism that conceals bribery received from Mexican criminal gangs, including from Mexico’s largest drug cartel, Los Zetas.
Los Zetas is Mexico’s largest drug cartel in terms of geographical presence and is known for its brutal tactics like beheadings, in order to terrorise rivals. The US government describes them as ‘"most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico."
The charged men are now seen as fugitives with a US warrant for their arrest initially indicted on May 27 but later blocked off until Thursday where it was re-indicted by federal prosecutors in Texas.
The bribery exchange and money laundering mechanism are believed to be operated during Hernandez’s governor post, in the northern Mexican state, which borders Texas, says US authorities.
The US government is pushing for a $30 million repayment and state seizure of at least three properties in McAllen and Austin, both in the Texas state.
If the court finds the accused guilty, they may face up to 20 years in prison.
Hernandez Flores is the second governor in Mexico to be blamed by the US in recent years for accepting systematic bribes by drug cartels and concealing it.
In 2013, the US unsealed an indictment against Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, Hernandez’s predecessor who served as governor of Tamaulipas from 1999 to 2004.
Ruvalcaba is currently facing similar charges with Hernandez, with counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and assisting criminal cartels with operation and distribution of illegal substances. He too is a fugitive believed to be hiding in Mexico.
Tamaulipas is considered to be one of the bases of criminality in Mexico and is also where the home base of Los Zetas stands. There has recursively been a fight for territorial power between Los Zetos and rival gang organisation Sinaloa cartel.
Tamaulipas has seen thousands of fatalities as a result of constant shootouts in public space and residential streets and is seen by drug cartels as a strategic location for drug territory operations.