Hector Javier Villarreal Hernandez, the former treasurer of the Mexican state of Coahuila, appeared in a San Antonio federal court this afternoon to face one count of conspiring to launder money.
|Former governor Humberto Moreira and his former treasurer Villarreal
Prosecutors allege he laundered in Texas millions of dollars, the proceeds of drug trafficking, bribery, embezzlement and fraud. Villarreal faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, but court documents in the case did not detail the allegations against him.
In earlier civil lawsuits, federal and local prosecutors have accused Villarreal of stealing millions of dollars from Coahuila government coffers and laundering it in San Antonio.
He waived his detention hearing and will be held without bond.
Villarreal had been a fugitive since a detention in East Texas in February 2012, when immigration officials let him go despite widespread reports of the allegations. He surrendered in at El Paso on Wednesday and was transferred to the jail here. TWO MILLION USD IN BERMUDA BANK ACCOUNT
U.S. authorities seized $2.2 million from a bank account they said was controlled by Villarreal who is accused of stealing public funds in a scheme that involved hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent bank loans.
Federal authorities seized the money from the Bermuda bank account believed to have been controlled the , a former finance secretary in Coahuila ..
|Villarreal and Botello
BACKSTORY FROM 2012: WANTED BUT RELEASED IN ERROR
The U.S. Department of State’s order to release a former Mexican government official from custody after a Tyler traffic stop has an East Texas congressman wanting an oversight committee to look into the order, which has now been reversed. One day after being told to release 41-year-old Hector Hernandez Javier Villarreal, the former secretary executive of the Tax Administration Service of Coahulia, Mexico, and his 28-year-old wife, Maria Teresita Botello, authorities said they are once again searching for the couple.
“It’s the kind of thing that I constantly worry could happen, but I was kind of surprised when it actually did happen,” U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, said Wednesday in a phone interview.
Smith County sheriff’s deputies arrested the couple last week and transported them from the Smith County Jail to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, or ICE, of Homeland Security in Dallas. After their arrest, the State Department ordered their release.
Gohmert said he was told the couple was released because they had a valid visa despite Villarreal being wanted by his own government.
Smith County Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon said Villarreal and Botello are wanted for the embezzlement of hundreds of millions, possibly billions, of dollars through Villarreal’s office in Coahuila, Mexico.
The Coahuila attorney general told Mexican media that Villarreal was arrested in November for his alleged involvement in the falsification of documents to take out government loans from banks in Mexico.
Since posting a $1 million cash bond in Mexico, Villarreal and his wife were believed to have been hiding in Mexico City, Mexico and Brownsville.
|Angry Coahuila protestors asking “Moreira, where is the money?”
The couple’s attempts to elude law enforcement came to an end Feb. 1 (2012)when a Smith County deputy initiated a traffic stop on Texas Highway 31 west when he noticed the couple’s 2011 Mercedes SUV did not have a front license plate.
Garmon said that during the stop, the two gave conflicting stories of where they came from and were going.
“The deputy asked for consent to search the vehicle and was given permission. Once inside he found two small children, plastic bags of clothes and toys and a large amount of U.S. currency and a shotgun,” he said.
Garmon said the deputy took the couple and another man, identified as 33-year-old Oswaldo Coronado, a U.S. citizen, into custody and transported them to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office for questioning.
He said that during the interviews detectives gathered information that the three were involved in money laundering. They subsequently were charged, and Child Protective Services was called to place the children in foster care.
Garmon said that after his office asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives to check the shotgun, the Department of Homeland Security and ICE got involved in the case.
“It was not the weapon but who the owner of the weapon was associated with that piqued their attention,” he said.
Federal authorities took custody of Villarreal and his wife and transported them to Dallas, where they were held on a federal detainer due to immigration status.
State Department spokesman John Echard deferred questions to ICE. Carl Rusnok, Dallas-area ICE spokesman, said he was still seeking answers to Tyler Morning Telegraph questions.
Garmon said federal authorities told him ICE was looking for the couple based on Mexican warrants.
“People make mistakes, but the State Department is now telling everyone that Mexico wants them back,” he said.
Sources: KYTX -MySA-Reuters