Photo: Mario Villanueva
A former governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo extradited to the United States to face drug charges says he was framed by Ernesto Zedillo, the Aztec nation’s president in 1994-2000, Milenio newspaper reported.
Zedillo - now teaching at Yale University - engineered a smear campaign against him “with the evident intention of carrying out a public lynching,” Mario Villanueva said in a handwritten letter published by the capital daily.
As evidence, Villanueva cited a tip he received in the late 1990s from an unnamed senior official of Mexico’s Cisen intelligence agency.
The then-governor of the Caribbean state had obtained a document dealing accusations that he was involved in drug trafficking.
“The Cisen director acknowledged that the information in the document was not accurate and, responding to my question regarding who gave the instructions to prepare it, he answered that the order was given from Los Pinos (the presidential residence), from the president of the republic,” Villanueva wrote.
The presidents who succeeded Zedillo, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, went along with the fabrication “out of political-electoral interests,” the former governor said.
Villanueva disappeared shortly after his gubernatorial term ended in 1999 as he was under investigation for links to organized crime.
He was arrested in 2001 and given a six-year prison sentence on lesser charges, which he completed in 2007. But he was immediately re-arrested pursuant to a U.S. request for his extradition on accusations of money laundering and drug smuggling.
Villanueva was handed over to the United States in 2010.
Facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted, the 64-year-old politico agreed last August to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.