03/09/14 (written by callison) — The former governor of Tamaulipas, Tomás Yarrington, who is wanted in the United States for charges of racketeering and money laundering, has suffered a substantial legal setback. On February 27, Judge Francisco Javier Sarabia Ascensio from the Fourth District Amparo Court for Criminal Matters (Cuarto de Distrito de Amparo en Materia Penal) denied his request for a constitutional injunction (amparo) against the issued arrest warrant. Yarrington has been able to avoid arrest since the U.S. indictment against him was unsealed in December 2013 because he had previously secured a constitutional injunction. The recent ruling, however, also denied Yarrington’s request for protection from being placed on Interpol’s red notice, which alerts member nations ”to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.” The former governor is now considered to be an at large fugitive and is subject to arrest in 180 countries connected through Interpol.
As Justice in Mexico previously reported, the United States formally published the indictments against the governor in December of 2013. Yarrington, who served as governor from 1999 to 2004 and as mayor of Matamoros from 1993 to 1995, was accused of conspiring to violate the Controlled Substance Act; accepting bribes that allowed criminal organizations, particularly Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel; to operate with impunity within Tamaulipas; facilitating the trafficking of cocaine into the United States en route from the Port of Veracruz; and accepting bribes from commercial contractors. Six protected witnesses gave incriminating testimonies against Yarrington’s involvement in illicit activities in August 2012, though Yarrington’s lawyer, Joel Androphy, denied the validity of their statements. “Their source of information is not to be trusted. Yarrington denies all the charges.” If convicted, Yarrington could face between ten and 30 years in prison.
Seeking an injunction for his arrest, Yarrington’s legal defense argued that the United States Attorney General’s Office operated outside their authority in their evidentiary findings, particularly with the fact that the Attorney General’s Office took official statements from protected witnesses in the United States. According to multiple reports, Yarrington allegedly accepted millions of dollars from leaders within the Gulf Cartel in exchange for protection. The defense argued that because the statements were taken outside of local jurisdiction, they were not legally admissible. However, El Universal reports that the federal court did not find merit in Yarrington’s legal argument and thus denied the request for the amparo.
Since the recent ruling, Yarrington’s whereabouts of are still unknown.