2 former Mexican officials indicted in US
McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A federal indictment against two former Mexican government officials on money laundering charges was unsealed Wednesday in Corpus Christi.
Hector Javier Villarreal Hernandez, 42, the former finance secretary for the state of Coahuila, and Jorge Juan Torres Lopez, 59, the state’s former interim governor and finance secretary, are charged with money laundering, bank fraud and wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
Neither man is in custody, and no attorneys were listed with their case. Authorities requested the public’s help in locating both men.
The indictment alleges that Villarreal Hernandez and Torres Lopez moved embezzled funds from Mexico into U.S. banks and then offshore. Federal prosecutors say the men sent more than $2 million each to accounts in Bermuda.
In February, federal authorities announced they had seized Villarreal Hernandez’s offshore account, which held more than $2.2 million. The civil forfeiture complaint alleged he had transferred money from Coahuila to a bank in Brownsville and then on to Bermuda. He had been appointed secretary of finance in Coahuila in 2008, but had previously worked as a budget undersecretary.
Villarreal Hernandez resigned in 2011 under investigation by Mexican authorities, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in February. Later that year, a Mexican judge charged him with forging state documents to obtain loans for more than $200 million. He was arrested, released on bond and fled.
U.S. authorities also believe he purchased a number of properties in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley with the embezzled funds.
Coahuila is a Mexican state bordering south Texas that in recent years has become home to the brutal Zetas drug cartel.