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Mexican officials reportedly barring exit of 3 former governors

January 30, 2012 |  4:49 pm

REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY — Federal authorities in Mexico are seeking to keep three former governors from leaving the country, apparently as part of a corruption investigation, Mexican media reported Monday.

The federal attorney general’s office had issued advisories to Mexican border officials and other agencies to block the possible exit of the three ex-governors, all from the violence-plagued border state of Tamaulipas, according to various news reports.

The daily Reforma newspaper quoted a Tamaulipas airport official as saying the advisory came last week. Lower-ranking former state officials and members of the ex-governors’ families were also included in the advisory, media reports said.

There was no immediate word from the attorney general’s office.

The ex-officials reportedly named in the federal advisory are Eugenio Hernandez, Tomas Yarrington and Manuel Cavazos. The three men are the state’s most recent former governors, covering a period that reached to the early 1990s.

All three are members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has remained dominant in Tamaulipas even after losing the presidency in 2000. Criminal action would be sure to prompt charges of a witch hunt as Mexico heads into a campaign with the PRI favored to recapture the presidency.

Cavazos, currently seeking his party’s nod for a Senate seat, on Monday denied any wrongdoing and said he was a victim of a “dirty war” by the federal government, ruled by the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon. Hernandez and Yarrington offered no immediate comment.

The border state, a crucial corridor for moving drugs north into the United States, has long been troubled by corruption and the clout of drug traffickers, who are widely believed to have forged ties with politicians.

In recent years, as Calderon’s government has waged war against drug cartels, the state has become one of the most dangerous corners in Mexico, with little sign of effective law and order. In 2010, Tamaulipas was site of a massacre, attributed to the Zetas gang, of 72 migrants from Central and South America. Last year, nearly 200 more bodies turned up in makeshift graves in the same region after reports surfaced that dozens of people had been captured from buses heading north to the border.

As the violence has spiraled, drug gangs have muzzled a fearful press and state officials offer little information on the killing.

Rumors have circulated for months that federal authorities were close to arresting a former PRI governor from an unspecified northern state. But none was named. Hernandez’s six-year term ended Dec. 31, 2010. Yarrington was elected in 1998, Cavazos in 1992.

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--Ken Ellingwood

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