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US court jails former Mexico governor

Mario Villanueva jailed for 11 years by New York court for conspiring to launder millions of dollars in drug money.

Last Modified: 29 Jun 2013 02:51
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Villanueva was arrested and convicted for corruption in Mexico in 2001 and was extradited to US in 2010 [AFP]

A US court has sentenced a former Mexican governor to 11 years in prison for conspiring to launder drug money.

On Friday, the court sentenced Mario Villanueva Madrid, who headed the state of Quintana Roo from 1994 to 1999, who was accused of conspiring to launder millions of dollars in bribes from the Juarez drug cartel through accounts at banks in the United States and elsewhere.

According to a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Villanueva Madrid made a lucrative deal with the Juarez cartel in 1994 that ensured its cocaine shipments traveled safely through Quintana Roo.

Over the next five years, he amassed millions of dollars, and by late 1995 began transferring the funds to accounts in the United States, Switzerland and elsewhere.

"Mario Villanueva Madrid was entrusted to serve the public in Mexico, but instead, in return for millions of dollars in bribes, he provided safe passage to a brutal drug cartel, allowing it to move massive amounts of cocaine through the state he governed," said Preet Bharara, a Manhattan-based lawyer, in the statement.

"With his sentence today, Villanueva Madrid completes his descent from elected government official to corrupted official to incarcerated felon."

He pleaded guilty in August and was initially arrested in Mexico in 2001 and later convicted there on organised crime and corruption offenses. He was extradited to the United States in May 2010.

His sentencing on Friday took into account of the six years he already spent  behind bars in Mexico, a prosecution spokesman told AFP news agency.

His funds in US accounts totalled to more than $17m.

Villanueva Madrid is a former member of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

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