Ex-governor of Mexican border state to stand trial for fraud

MEXICO CITY – A federal judge in Mexico has ruled there is enough evidence to try the former governor of the northern border state of Sonora on fiscal fraud charges.

The federal judiciary said in a statement Wednesday that former Gov. Guillermo Padres will stand trial on charges that he moved funds in and out of Mexico to obscure their illicit origins.

Padres turned himself in to authorities last week. Last Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Gilberto Higuera Bernal said Padres and one of his sons were arrested on charges of organized crime and use of illicitly obtained funds.

On Tuesday, authorities in Mexico’s Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo said that state’s former governor sold state-owned properties to associates at prices far below their market value.

The state is home to resorts like Cancun, Playa de Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum.

The state’s chief auditor said Tuesday that ex-Gov. Roberto Borge sold nearly 23,500 acres (9,500 hectares) of land around those resorts.

Rafael Antonio del Pozo said the properties were acquired “by people and businesses that were personally linked to the ex-governor.”

Del Pozo said the prices “in some cases did not even amount to 1 per cent” of market value.

The government land serves as a buffer against development, or as a reserve for future tourism projects.

In some areas, Borge sold nearly half the reserve before leaving office in September.