BROWNSVILLE, RGV – U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela has praised the Mexican government for capturing the fugitive former governor of Tamaulipas, Tomás Jesús Yarrington Ruvalcaba.

Yarrington, who was governor of Tamaulipas between 1999 and 2005, is wanted on charges of drug smuggling, bank fraud, racketeering and money laundering. After five years on the run, he was arrested in Florence, Italy.

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela

“The Mexican government should be commended for the capture of the fugitive governor Tomas Yarrington in Italy,” Vela said Monday. “Yarrington’s detention is an important milestone in efforts to prevent corrupt government officials from facilitating the conduct of cartel traffickers. The prosecution of corruption by high ranking government officials, even years after the crimes were committed, is critical to disrupting cartel trafficking and the violence with which it is associated.”

Since Yarrington’s indictment, Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, has been pressing the State Department to seek extradition.

“As the senior Democrat on the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee, I worked with Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul to seek the capture of fugitives so they can stand trial for crimes they are alleged to have committed in the U.S.,” Vela said.

“The capture and prosecution of Tomas Yarrington will help restore peace to Tamaulipas. I am hopeful that law enforcement officials from the United States and Mexico will marshal all of their diplomatic resources to ensure that Yarrington is extradited to the United States and that the federal criminal process be allowed to take its course.”

It is believed Yarrington took millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels in return for turning a blind eye to their smuggling activities. He is said to have invested some of the money in property in Texas.

The attorney-general’s office in Mexico said Yarrington would be extradited to his homeland within days.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the BBC’s story of Yarrington’s arrest. Click here to read The Independent’s story of Yarrington’s arrest.