HOUSTON, Texas (KVEO) — The former governor of Tamaulipas admitted he accepted over $3.5 million in bribes and used it to fraudulently buy property in the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba admitted on Thursday to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a pay-to-play type of scheme.
Yarrington also admitted he accepted bribes from individuals and private companies in Mexico to do business with the state of Tamaulipas while he served as governor from 1999 to 2005.
The former presidential candidate used the bribery money he received while governor to purchase properties in the United States, where he had nominee buyers make the purchase to hide Yarrington’s ownership of the properties and the illegal bribery money used to purchase them.
Yarrington admitted one of the properties he illegally bought was a condominium in Port Isabel.
U.S. District Judge Hilda G. Tagle accepted the guilty plea and will set a sentence for him in the future. Yarrington faces up to 20 years in federal prison and has agreed to forfeit the Port Isabel condominium.
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.
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.
Yarrington 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 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.