Date: June 17, 2020
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A former Coahuila, Mexico, governor has entered a guilty plea for his role in a money laundering scheme that includes offenses against a foreign nation involving bribery of a public official.
Jorge Juan Torres-Lopez admitted to conducting financial transactions in the United States to conceal the bribes he received here in return for road-building contracts for the State of Coahuila.
Torres-Lopez worked for the Mexican government from 1994 to 2011. His roles included general director of Promotion and Development while secretary of Finance for the state of Coahuila, municipal president of Saltillo as well as interim governor of Coahuila. In approximately December 2005, Hector Javier Villarreal-Hernandez was appointed as undersecretary of Program and Budget for the state of Coahuila. At the time, Torres-Lopez was his supervisor. In July 2008, Villarreal-Hernandez was appointed as secretary of Finance for Coahuila, where he remained until his resignation in August 2011.
As part of his plea, Torres-Lopez agreed to forfeit a piece of property in the United States associated with the payments.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos set sentencing for Sept. 10. At that time, Torres-Lopez faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible 500,000 fine, twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transaction or both.
Torres-Lopez was taken into custody in Mexico on Feb. 5, 2019, where he remained until his extradition to the United States Oct. 29, 2019. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing.
Villarreal-Hernandez of Saltillo, Coahuilla, Mexico, has also been convicted in the Southern and Western Districts of Texas for money laundering offenses and is also awaiting sentencing.
Multiple agencies conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation dubbed Operation Politico Junction to include IRS - Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Mexico provided significant assistance. The Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs of the Department's Criminal Division also assisted.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jon Muschenheim and Lance A. Watt are prosecuting the case.