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Fugitive Mexico state official pleads guilty to U.S. money laundering charges

A former top official from the Mexican state of Coahuila pleaded guilty in Texas last week to federal money laundering charges.

Hector Javier Villarreal Hernandez, 43, admitted to two counts of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiring to transport stolen money in foreign commerce, the San Antonio Express News said.

Villarreal was the treasurer of Coahuila, a state that borders Texas, from 2008 to 2011.

He quit his post after Coahulla’s $3 billion debt became known.

He faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the money laundering counts and up to five years in prison on the money transporting charge.

U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez hasn’t set a sentencing date.

Villarreal had been charged in Mexico with taking at least $250 million in fraudulent loans by using the credit of the state as collateral.

After his resignation and arrest by Mexican authorities in 2012, Villarreal skipped bond, Reuters said.

He’s still facing charges in Mexico.

The U.S. indictment said he laundered money from the fraudulent loans in banks in South Texas and Bermuda.

The DOJ said he used some of the money to buy Texas property in San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, and South Padre Island.

Villarreal surrendered to U.S. authorities on the international bridge between El Paso and Juarez in February of this year, Reuters said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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