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3 ex-governors under investigation in Mexico are free to leave

January 31, 2012 | 10:31 am

REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY—Three ex-governors from a violence-ridden state on the Texas border are under investigation but not barred from leaving Mexico, authorities said Tuesday.

Mexico’s attorney general said the three former governors of Tamaulipas state — Eugenio Hernandez, Tomas Yarrington and Manuel Cavazos — were under no travel restrictions. In an early-morning statement, the attorney general’s office confirmed that an investigation of "ex-public servants" in Tamaulipas was under way, but did not name the targets.

Mexican media reported a day earlier that three former officials, who governed the border state in succession from the early 1990s until 2010, were prohibited from leaving the country while federal prosecutors investigated possible corruption.

Tamaulipas is a major drug-trafficking corridor, and ties between criminal groups and state politicians have long been widely suspected. In recent years, the state has been the scene of a vicious war between the gulf cartel and one-time allies known as the Zetas. Ordinary residents live under the de facto control of criminal groups.

The attorney general's statement said that as part of the investigation, prosecutors had asked the federal transportation agency for information on when the officials had entered and left Mexico. The request prompted an airport supervisor in Tamaulipas to ask Mexican immigration authorities to help stop the men from leaving. The airport official exceeded his authority in doing so and has been relieved of his duties, the attorney general’s statement said.

Hernandez, Yarrington and Cavazos are all members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has long ruled Tamaulipas despite losing the presidency in 2000. The federal government, including the attorney general’s office, is now in the hands of the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon.

Cavazos, who hopes to run for Senate under the PRI banner this year, decried media reports of a travel ban as part of a politically motivated “dirty war.” Hernandez said he had always obeyed the law and was ready to cooperate with federal authorities. Yarrington said via Twitter that he hoped the reported exit ban would be cleared up.

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--Ken Ellingwood

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