Former governor of Mexico’s 3rd largest state sent to prison for money laundering following ICE HSI investigation
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A former governor of Mexico’s third largest state was sentenced to three years in federal prison Wednesday in the Southern District of Texas for his role in a money laundering scheme that includes offenses against a foreign nation involving bribery of a public official.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Corpus Christi, Texas, conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation along with several other federal agencies including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS - Criminal Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service.
Jorge Juan Torres-Lopez, 67, a former interim governor of Coahuila, Mexico, pleaded guilty to the charges on June 16, 2020. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. At a previous hearing, the court heard additional evidence from two witnesses who described their relationship with Torres-Lopez and detailed some of the financial transactions and illegal payments.
Torres-Lopez worked for the Mexican government from 1994 to 2011. His roles included general director of promotion and development while secretary of finance for the state of Coahuila, municipal president of Saltillo and interim governor of Coahuila.
Torres-Lopez admitted that during some of his time in office, he conducted financial transactions in the U.S. to conceal the bribes he received in return for road-building contracts for the state of Coahuila. As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit a piece of property in the U.S. associated with the payments.
Law enforcement took Torres-Lopez into custody in Mexico on Feb. 5, 2019, where he remained until his extradition to the U.S. on Oct. 29, 2019. He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Mexico and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division assisted in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jon Muschenheim and Lance A. Watt prosecuted the case.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.