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Former PRI party president and Coahuila governor Humberto Moreira, detained in Spain on suspicion of money laundering, will appear before a judge Friday. Moreira is thought to have embezzled millions from the Coahuila treasury and left the state with a $35 billion-peso debt. And now a Spanish online publication has reported that evidence exists that he was involved with the Zetas criminal organization.
Humberto Moreira, the former governor of the border state of Coahuila who is in custody in Spain for alleged money laundering, may have come under the influence of the violent Mexican crime organization Los Zetas, according to the Spanish only daily El Español.
Moreira, who also served as president of President Peña Nieto’s political party, was arrested at the Madrid Barajas International Airport last Friday (Jan. 15) as he tried to enter Spain after a flight from Mexico. His detention had been ordered by Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors after they were alerted by U.S. authorities that Moreira was involved in money-laundering activities.
According to El Español, the Spanish prosecutors have evidence that Moreira had laundered approximately 200,000 euros since 2013, the year that he began living in Barcelona as he studied for a master’s degree.
The online publication also says that the Spanish authorities have evidence that Moreira worked for Los Zetas. In fact, the assassination of one of his sons, José Eduardo Moreira, in 2012, may have been a revenge shooting by the criminal group for the former governor’s failure to share the laundered money with them.
Moreira served as Coahuila governor from 2005 to 2011, after which he took over as president of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. His tenure as the head of the party, which lasted for most of 2011, coincided with Peña Nieto’s final year as governor of the State of Mexico. During this period, Peña Nieto was being groomed as the PRI candidate for the 2012 presidential vote, which he won.
However, Moreira resigned the party leadership well before the election as accusations began to surface that he had embezzled millions of pesos from the Coahuila treasury. The Finance Secretariat also discovered that he had left his state with a staggering $35 billion-peso debt.
On Friday (Jan. 22), Moreira will appear before Judge Santiago Pedraz at the Spanish court known as the Audiencia Nacional. Pedraz will decide whether the former governor can be released on his own recognizance. The decision will be based in a large part on whether Moreira is considered a flight risk, and if there is a concern that he might destroy evidence.
Moreira’s defense lawyer says he will present exculpatory evidence that includes more than 100 receipts that he says prove that the funds Moreira received during his stay in Spain — thought to total almost 200,000 euros — were profits from two advertising businesses that Moreira was involved with.
The factors indicate that the two business shared an address in the Coahuila capital of Saltillo. There have been press reports, however, that the address doesn’t exist.
In a recent brief mention of the case, President Peña Nieto asked Mexicans not to pre-judge the charges against Moreira. The current PRI president, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, said the party will offer legal help to its former leader if he asks for it.