Former Mexican official held in segregation

Former Mexican governor Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba of the state of Taumalipas arrives at Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport as Yarrington is taken by U.S. federal agents Friday, Apr. 20, 2018, from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter after Yarrington was captured in 2017 in Italy by Interpol authorities and has been extradited from Italy to Texas to face federal charges including drug trafficking and money laundering. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

BROWNSVILLE — A former Mexican politician who once sought the PRI presidential nomination now finds himself in segregation while in federal custody.

A brief federal journal entry summarizing a telephone conference between U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle, federal prosecutors and attorneys for former Matamoros mayor Tomas Yarrington shows that while he’s being held in segregation, he is only allowed one phone call a month and email access is forbidden.

The 61-year-old Yarrington, who also served as Tamaulipas governor, is charged in a 53-page, 11-count indictment with racketeering through conspiracies to possess and distribute narcotics, as well as money laundering and bank fraud charges.

The entry into the record doesn’t provide much new information in a case that has been dominated by sealed hearings and sealed motions since Yarrington’s arrest in April 2018.

It appears that Yarrington’s attorney, who said that he is only able to visit with the former official through a glass window, has a difficult time going over a volume of documents, and wants his client released from segregation.

The government is not opposed to Yarrington being placed in general population, as long as he has no contact with drug-related inmates.

That journal entry also shows that Tagle requested the attorney “confer with client relating to the issue discussed in this hearing and receive confirmation that he agrees that this court continue presiding over the case.”

Yarrington had been a fugitive from justice since 2012 after authorities in Mexico began investigating his ties to Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel.

The case against the former official is voluminous and includes numerous witnesses, search warrants, photos and reports form numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal prosecutors allege Yarrington took millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas when he ran for governor in 1998 to assure the criminal organizations that law enforcement would not interfere in their illegal operations.

Authorities further accuse Yarrington of escalating his drug trafficking activities by involving himself in multi-ton loads of cocaine and arranging access at the Port of Vera Cruz for large cocaine shipments.

Yarrington is also accused of taking out fraudulent bank loans, stealing $60 million in pesos from the public coffers and of orchestrating illegal land deals throughout South Texas.

His co-defendant, Alejandro Cano Martinez, 61, is a fugitive.

His trial is scheduled for 2020.