Former Governor of Mexican State extradited to the US for involvement with the Juarez CartelMay 11th, 2010 - 3:09 pm ICT by BNO News
NEW YORK CITY (BNO NEWS) – The former Governor of Quintana Roo, Mexico was extradited to the United States for conspiring to import hundreds of tons of cocaine and laundering millions of dollars in bribe payments from the Juarez Cartel, U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara announced on Monday.
Mario Ernesto Villanueva Madrid, 61, of Chetumal, Mexico, was the Governor of Quintana Roo from 1993 to 1999. He facilitated the importation of over two hundred tons of cocaine from Colombia onto U.S. streets. He received millions of dollars for assisting the cocaine flow towards the United States.
Villanueva Madrid is also charged with laundering nearly $19 million in drug proceeds through accounts at Lehman Brothers in New York and elsewhere. He was extradited by the Mexican Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) to agents for the DEA after a long wait of over two years.
The Juarez Cartel is one of Mexico’s most notorious and violent cocaine cartels, responsible for the importation of hundreds of tons of Colombian cocaine over the Southwest U.S. border. In 1994, the cartel established operations in Quintana Roo, state were the city of Cancun is located.
Villanueva Madrid, while being Governor, reached an agreement with Alcides Ramon Magana and Jesus Albino Quintero-Meraz, the Juarez Cartel leaders, to ensure that the cocaine shipments would travel safely through Quintana Roo without interference from law enforcement. Under the agreement, Villanueva Madrid was paid between $400,000 and $500,000 for each shipment transported.
Villanueva Madrid placed police and state government infrastructure at the disposal of the Cartel. They provided armed protection for Juarez Cartel boat crews and escorted them through the state. Cartel members were given police identification cards and firearms permits so they could travel through Quintana Roo with impunity.
The defendant began to gather millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds. In an effort to hide the illicit funds, he began transferring them to a bank and brokerage accounts in the U.S., Switzerland, Panama, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Several of these accounts were established at Lehman Brothers, Inc., in New York.
Villanueva Madrid was the subject of investigations by 1998 and 1999. Shortly before his term as Governor expired, he fled. He was caught two years later in 2001. Before being caught, he liquidated the millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds ha had deposited at Lehman, through a series of wire transfers totaling over 11 million.
All of the defendant’s illicit funds, totaling over $19 million, were seized and later forfeited by U.S. authorities. He was prosecuted by a Mexican court.
Villanueva Madrid is charged with cocaine importation conspiracy, cocaine distribution conspiracy, conspiring to launder narcotics proceeds, and 13 counts of money laundering. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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Tags: albino quintero, alcides ramon magana, bno, boat crews, bribe, chetumal mexico, cocaine cartels, cocaine shipments, colombian cocaine, drug proceeds, government infrastructure, impunity, juarez cartel, lehman brothers, long wait, preet bharara, procuraduria general, quintana roo mexico, quintana roo state, villanueva