BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Mexican businessman from Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, was indicted Tuesday following a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, announced U.S. Attorneys Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas, and Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas. This indictment stems from a long-term investigation targeting alleged money laundering activities inside the United States.
"We remain steadfast in our commitment in targeting not only the drug cartels but those who allegedly provide support and service to them," said Magidson. "This case is another example of our cooperation with various law enforcement agencies and other U.S. Attorney's offices, including evidence from the government of Mexico in charging those who seek to circumvent the laws of the United States."
According to court documents, Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez, 55, is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments since about Jan. 1, 1998. The indictment alleges Cano and others conspired to use an array of corporate entities they formed in Texas to launder portions of bribes paid by the Gulf Cartel to high-level elected officials and candidates for such elected office in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Millions of dollars of assets, primarily Texas real estate, were allegedly acquired in the scheme.
Cano is also accused of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. According to the indictment, Cano and others also engaged in a separate conspiracy to acquire loans from financial institutions by submitting false financial information.
At this time, Cano is a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at (956) 542-7831 or (956) 542-5811; Radio: 145*4*41047; Desde Mexico: 001-800-010-5237.
At the same time the indictment against Cano was returned May 22, civil actions were filed by U.S. Attorney's offices in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas. In Corpus Christi, Texas, a civil complaint was filed regarding real property allegedly owned by Tomas Jesus Yarrington Ruvalcaba. Yarrington was the former mayor of Matamoros, Mexico, former governor of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and former presidential candidate for Mexico. In the complaint, it is alleged that Yarrington used illicit proceeds to purchase a condominium located in South Padre Island, Texas, using a third party to conduct the $450,000 transaction and hold title.
In San Antonio, the Western District of Texas is filing a civil action regarding a single property, purchased in 2006 for about $6.6 million, that was allegedly obtained with illicit funds by Yarrington, Cano and others.
The money laundering conspiracy carries a possible 20-year-term of imprisonment, upon conviction. Cano also faces an additional five years if convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Also included in the indictment is a notice of intent to seek a money judgment in the amount of $20 million on each count and forfeiture of assets, including an airplane and several bank accounts belonging to Cano.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted in the south Texas cities of Brownsville, San Antonio, Houston and Corpus Christi by the following agencies: HSI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations, and the Texas Attorney General's Office. As part of the investigation, the United States sought evidence from the Mexican Central Authority via the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which has been in effect between the United States and Mexico.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie Lewis, Jody Young and Julie K. Hampton, Southern District of Texas, in addition to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Nelda Valadez, Western District of Texas, are all prosecuting this case.