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Former Mexican governor gets jail time for taking drug bribes

June 29, 2013 at 4:13 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, June 29 (UPI) -- A former Mexican governor who pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money from a drug cartel has been sentenced to 11 years in U.S. prison.

Mario Villanueva Madrid, the former governor of Mexico's Quintana Roo state, was sentenced Friday by a federal court in New York, The New York Times reported.

Prosecutors said Villanueva accepted bribes from the Juarez cartel in exchange for allowing drug traffickers to move shipments of cocaine from Colombia to a government hangar at an airport in Quintana Roo, and then on to the United States. Villanueva entered the agreement with the gang shortly after he took office in 1993, getting $500,000 per shipment.

Mexican authorities began investigating Villanueva while his was still governor.

Villanueva disappeared just before his term expired in 1999, and was caught two years later in Cancun. He was convicted on organized crime and corruption charges and jailed in Mexico until he was extradited to the United States in 2010.

Villanueva pleaded guilty in August to a federal charge of conspiring to launder millions of dollars he received from the Juarez cartel.

Villanueva had $17 million in a number of American bank accounts, and in accounts in Switzerland and the Bahamas, prosecutors said.

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