US accuses Mexican ex-governor of corruption, cartel bribes

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.S. government on Friday announced the public designation of a former governor of the Mexican state of Nayarit under the Magnitsky Act, accusing him of “involvement in significant corruption” and drug cartel ties.

The announcement attributed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Roberto Sandoval Castañeda misappropriated state assets during his 2011-2017 term governing the Pacific Coast state and accepted bribes from the Jalisco New Generation and Beltran Leyva drug gangs.

The designation extends to Sandoval’s wife, daughter and son, and makes all four ineligible for U.S. visas.

The U.S. Treasury Department had already slapped more serious sanctions on Sandoval and his immediate family last May for purported corruption and taking bribes from drug gangs. A judge sanctioned at the same time was arrested in November.

Sandoval has said in the past that he abided by the law. He promised to cooperate and expressed certainty that his name would be cleared.

Sandoval was previously mayor of Tepic, the capital of Nayarit, from 2008 to 2011.

In 2018, state lawmakers approved a measure barring him from holding public office in Nayarit for over a decade amid allegations of misusing public resources and illicit enrichment.

Jalisco is Mexico’s fastest rising cartel and one of its most powerful, based in the neighboring state of the same name. It is aggressively expansionist and also one of the country’s most brazen and brutal, blamed for bloody attacks on rivals, security forces and civilians.

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