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Financial Crimes
06/18/2020

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Former interim governor of Mexico's third largest state pleads guilty for role in transnational money-laundering scheme

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A former interim governor of Mexico’s third largest state, Coahuila, pleaded guilty Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for his role in a transnational money-laundering scheme.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Corpus Christi, Texas, conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force 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, 66, who served as the interim governor of Coahuila, Mexico, in 2011, admitted to conducting financial transactions in the United States to conceal bribes that he received in exchange for assigning road-building contracts in Coahuila.

Torres-Lopez worked for the Mexican government from 1994 to 2011. In addition to his role as interim governor, he also served as Coahuila’s secretary of finance and general director of promotion and development, as well as the municipal president of Saltillo – the capital of Coahuila.

As part of his plea, Torres-Lopez agreed to forfeit real property in the U.S. associated with the payments.

Torres-Lopez was taken into custody in Mexico Feb. 5, 2019, and extradited to the U.S. Oct. 29, 2019. He will remain in federal custody pending his sentencing scheduled for Sept. 10. At that time, Torres-Lopez faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $500,000 fine, twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transaction, or both.

Coahuila’s secretary of finance under Torres-Lopez, Hector Javier Villarreal-Hernandez, 49, has also been convicted of money laundering offenses related to this case and is awaiting sentencing. Around December 2005, Villarreal-Hernandez was appointed as Coahuila’s undersecretary of program and budget. At the time, Torres-Lopez was his supervisor. In July 2008, Villarreal-Hernandez was appointed as secretary of finance for Coahuila, where he remained until his resignation in August 2011.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jon Muschenheim and Lance A. Watt are prosecuting this case. The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Mexico and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs (Criminal Division) provided significant assistance.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/19/2020