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Latino Daily News

Sunday February 19, 2012

Mexican Governor Implicated in Cash-Stuffed Suitcase Incident

Mexican Governor Implicated in Cash-Stuffed Suitcase Incident

Photo: Cash Stuffed Plane

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A senator has filed a criminal complaint against the governor of the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz and two of his employees over the seizure of nearly $2 million in undeclared cash on an official plane, the governing party said.

The case dates back to late January, when two Veracruz government employees were arrested at an airport near Mexico City for transporting 25 million pesos ($1.9 million) in cash without providing proof of its origin or destination.

Sen. Juan Bueno Torio of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, filed the complaint Thursday with the federal Attorney General’s Office against Gov. Javier Duarte, of the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Veracruz government employees Miguel Morales Robles and Said Sandoval Zepeda, who were arrested on Jan. 27 for transporting the money inside a suitcase and a backpack, also were named in the complaint.

The accusations are justified because “this action constitutes a serious violation of criminal law,” the PAN said Thursday in a statement, adding that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the cash haul was destined to illegally finance political campaigns.

When the scandal first broke, the PAN said it was suspicious that the money was seized at the airport in the central city of Toluca, where Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI’s presidential hopeful and frontrunner in the polls, lives.

For his part, the chairman of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, Jesus Zambrano, said the cash-filled suitcase “in all certainty” was an attempt to “divert funds from the state government” to Peña Nieto’s campaign.

The Veracruz government, meanwhile, says the money was intended for a service provider and that payment was sent in cash to meet a deadline.

But the Mexican press has called into question that explanation, noting that the invoices for those payments were issued hours after reports surfaced about the cash seizure.

The PRI governed Mexico without interruption from 1929-2000, a regime described by Peruvian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa as “the perfect dictatorship.”

That era ended with the election in 2000 of the PAN’s Vicente Fox, who was succeeded six years later by party colleague Felipe Calderon after the closest contest in Mexican history.

The PRI siphoned off tens of millions of dollars from Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos to fund its doomed 2000 presidential campaign.