HomeNewsBriefTestimony Describes Zetas’ Ties to Mexico Governor
BRIEF

Testimony Describes Zetas’ Ties to Mexico Governor

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 SEP 2014 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Testimony from a US federal court provides more fuel for accusations that a former governor of Veracruz, Mexico, accepted cash from the Zetas, which was then part of the Gulf Cartel.

The transcripts were obtained via a freedom of information request by Mexican radio station Noticias MVS. They were taken from a case heard last year by a Texas federal court, concerning millions of dollars that the Zetas laundered by buying and training racehorses in the United States.

Former Gulf Cartel accountant Jose Carlos Hinojosa testified on April 18, 2013 that the cartel donated $12 million to support a governor’s campaign in Veracruz state circa 2004. That was the year that Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) member Fidel Herrera won the governor’s seat in Veracruz, where he served for the next six years. There have previously been accusations that Herrera accepted money from the cartel via an intermediary, oil businessman Francisco Colorado, who has been convicted in the United States of laundering money for the Zetas. 

According to MVS Radio, that same US federal court case also saw testimony from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, who directly stated that Herrera’s campaign took money from Colorado. That document is not yet available online.

Another witness called by the court further implicated Herrera’s administration. Former congressional candidate and Veracruz businessman Alfonso del Rayo Mora testified in 2013 that after he was kidnapped by the Zetas in 2010, he was approached by the state government’s head of communications, who told him that, in return for his release, he had to go to Oklahoma and buy a racehorse on the Zetas’ behalf. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The testimony transcripts provide illuminating details of the financial operations of the Gulf Cartel and its former armed wing, the Zetas. The Zetas’ use of an extensive highbred racehorse buying-and-breeding scheme to launder their drug proceeds is well known. But Mora’s testimony implies that the gang was also willing to use kidnapping as a tool to force victims to participate in the scheme by buying racehorses on their behalf.

SEE ALSO: Zetas News and Profile

Herrera, the former Veracruz governor, has never been formally charged with any crime in Mexico — although Forbes magazine did list him among the 10 most corrupt Mexican politicians last year. He is just one of various governors to come under suspicion for links to the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel in Mexico. 

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