Mexico ex-governor gets 11 year US prison sentence

A US court on Friday sentenced a former Mexican governor to 11 years in prison for conspiring to launder drug money.

Mario Villanueva Madrid, 65, who headed the state of Quintana Roo from 1994 to 1999, was accused of conspiring to launder millions of dollars in bribes from the Juarez drug cartel through accounts at banks in the United States and elsewhere.

He pleaded guilty in August.

Initially arrested in Mexico in 2001 and later convicted there on organized crime and corruption offenses, he was extradited to the United States in May 2010.

His sentencing Friday took into account the six years he already spent behind bars in his homeland, a prosecution spokesman told AFP.

According to a statement from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Villanueva Madrid made a lucrative deal with the Juarez cartel in 1994 that ensured its cocaine shipments traveled safely through Quintana Roo.

Over the next five years, he amassed millions of dollars, and by late 1995 began transferring the funds to accounts in the United States, Switzerland and elsewhere.

His funds in US accounts totaled more than $17 million.

"Mario Villanueva Madrid was entrusted to serve the public in Mexico, but instead, in return for millions of dollars in bribes, he provided safe passage to a brutal drug cartel, allowing it to move massive amounts of cocaine through the state he governed," Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in the statement.

"With his sentence today, Villanueva Madrid completes his descent from elected government official to corrupted official to incarcerated felon."

Villanueva Madrid is a former member of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).