Security forces in Mexico have arrested a fugitive former governor and his daughter on money laundering charges in a predawn raid on a home which is reportedly owned by a cartel.
Roberto Sandoval, who governed the Pacific coast state of Nayarit from 2011 to 2017, and Lidy Sandoval, were apprehended on Sunday in Linares, a city in the northeastern state of Nuevo León.
The ex-governor and his daughter were flown to Nayarit and on Monday appeared before a judge, who ordered Roberto Sandoval held without bail because he is considered a flight risk.
Lidy Sandoval was released from custody after paying $75,000 bail bond.
Both are being investigated for crimes of illicit enrichment, embezzlement and for allegedly being linked to criminal organizations.
Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that they were staying at a home owned by members of the Güeros Cartel, a cell linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
Roberto Sandoval (left) who governed the Mexican Pacific coast state of Nayarit from 2011 to 2017, was arrested along with his daughter Lidy Sandoval (right) on Sunday at a ranch in the northeastern state of Nuevo León. Both are being investigated for crimes of illicit enrichment, embezzlement and for allegedly being linked to criminal organizations
Former Mexican governor Roberto Sandoval is escorted by security forces at an airport in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit on Sunday following his arrest after seven months on the run
In March, Attorney General’s Office in Mexico revealed that former governor Roberto Sandoval had bought real estate properties that were placed under the name of Lidy Sandoval (center), however, she had ‘no way of covering these types of expenses since she was a university student’
Roberto Sandoval had been on the run since November 4, 2020 when the Nayarit State Attorney General’s Office obtained a warrant for his arrest. A second warrant was issued in December 2020.
On February 29, the Financial Intelligence United blocked 42 accounts at 11 banks with deposits that totaled $60.5 million.
On March 1, a federal court judge approved a third arrest order for the governor and his daughter, linking them to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
The nation’s Attorney General’s Office revealed that Sandoval had bought real estate properties that were placed under the name of Lidy Sandoval, however, she had ‘no way of covering these types of expenses since she was a university student.’
Roberto Sandoval governed the Pacific coast state of Nayarit from 2011 to 2017. Mexico intelligence agents learned of Roberto Sandoval’s location after he received a visit from his wife and a bodyguard last week at a ranch in the northeastern state of Nuevo León
Lidy Sandoval, the daughter of former Nayarit governor Roberto Sandoval, was arrested Sunday and released Monday by a judge after she posted bail
‘In addition, there is evidence, both in the [state] and federal courts, of their alleged relationship with various people who have been detained in a foreign country for crimes related to organized crime.’
In February 2020, then-United States Attorney General Mike Pompeo accused Roberto Sandoval of corruption, a year after the Department of Treasury designated the former governor for ‘corruption-related conduct.’
‘Specifically, during his tenure as governor of Nayarit (2011-2017), Mr. Sandoval misappropriated state assets and received bribes from narcotics trafficking organizations, including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), in exchange for information and protection,’ Pompeo said.
Pompeo signaled that Sandoval had also taken kickback payments from the Beltrán Leyva Organization, a criminal enterprise that formed under the Sinaloa Cartel before it was weakened as its founders were either killed or apprehended and remained jailed in Mexico or were extradited to the United States.
U.S. Department of Treasury in May 2019 sanctioned Roberto Sandoval under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which focuses on ‘perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption’
Former Mexico governor Pablo Sandoval (top left) with his son Roberto Sandoval (top right), his wife Ana López (bottom left) and daughter Lily Sandoval (bottom right)
Sandoval and his family switched residences soon after the first arrest warrant came down, living in the states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, State of Mexico, Nuevo León and the nation’s capital, Mexico City.
According to El Universal, authorities zeroed in on Sandoval’s location after intelligence agents were able to trace phone calls made by his bodyguard at a home in the Nuevo León city of San Pedro Garza García, where Sandoval was hiding with his wife Ana López and Lidy Sandoval.
The family then moved to an exclusive development in the Guadalajara neighborhood of Puerto de Hierro.
They eventually moved from the high-end digs to two ranches in Saltillo, Coahuila, and the second property in Nuevo León that was provided to him by the Güeros Cartel.
The criminal organization’s leaders, Esteban Rodríguez and Luis Rodríguez, were arrested in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and extradited to New York. The pleaded guilty to trafficking more than 100,000 kilos of cocaine.
The Nayarit State Attorney General issued an order in December 2020 that led to the seizure of two properties, including a ranch (pictured) that was reportedly purchased by former governor Roberto Sandoval with illicit money
The Nayarit State Attorney General’s Office also confiscated from former governor Roberto Sandoval a property in the capital city of Tepic that served as a rehabilitation site for children
Former Nayarit, Mexico, governor Roberto Sandoval has been linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the country
Esteban Rodríguez, who was sentenced to five year and credited for serving time in prison, was deported to Mexico in September 2017.
Authorities learned of Sandoval’s location last week after his wife and a bodyguard visited the Nuevo León ranch, deploying a team of security forces to arrest him and his daughter.
Before the former governor’s arrest, López sought out Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for assistance and requested that the government perform a thorough review of the family’s assets dating back to 2011.
‘What I ask is to stop this fierce political persecution that we have had for more than three and a half years,’ López told Radio Formula.