November 8, 2007 / 4:53 AM / 12 years ago

Mexico orders extradition of ex-governor to U.S.

MEXICO CITY, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Mexico has ordered the extradition of a former state governor, Mario Villanueva, to the United States so he can be tried there on drug-smuggling charges, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Villanueva was leaving prison in June after a six-year money-laundering sentence when he was arrested on suspicion of helping a Mexican cartel smuggle Colombian cocaine into Quintana Roo, the Caribbean state he governed from 1993 to 1999.

The ex-governor is wanted by a New York federal court on charges he received money from the Juarez cartel to allow smugglers to unload cocaine in the beach resort of Cancun, in Quintana Roo state.

The Foreign Ministry said a Mexican judge agreed to the extradition order last month and that it informed Villanueva on Wednesday. He has 15 days to appeal.

Mexico has extradited a string of suspected drug traffickers to the United States this year, including suspected Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, as it launched an aggressive army crackdown on the country’s violent drug-trafficking gangs. (Reporting by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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