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Mexican ex-governor jailed, could be extradited
( 2001-05-26 13:47 ) (7 )

US drug agents helped Mexico capture a former state governor accused of working with one of Mexico's leading drug cartels and he could be extradited to face charges in a US court, officials said on Friday.

Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha said his agents worked closely with the US Drug Enforcement Administration in tracking down Mario Villanueva, the former governor of Quintana Roo state who was arrested by Mexican police in the Caribbean resort city of Cancun late on Thursday.

After US prosecutors in New York on Friday unsealed an indictment against Villanueva, Macedo said he could be extradited if US authorities make a formal request.

"If that were the case, yes, he could be an extraditable," Macedo told a Mexican radio station, although officials inside the attorney general's office said Villanueva would face trial in Mexico before any possible extradition.

Villanueva is accused of having had close ties with the infamous Juarez drug cartel and allowing it to land huge quantities of Colombian cocaine along Quintana Roo's coastline during his six-year term as governor.

Villanueva was the first high-profile figure to fall since the new government of President Vicente Fox took office last December, ending the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) 71-year rule of Mexico.

Fox said the arrest was a clear sign his government was serious about its campaign to crack down on high-level corruption and drug kingpins.

Villanueva, a PRI member, has denied the charges that he worked with the Juarez cartel, saying they were trumped up by rivals within his own party during the administration of former President Ernesto Zedillo.



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