Gregorio Sánchez Martínez, a gubernatorial candidate from the Yucatan Peninsula state of Quintana Roo, was arrested by Mexican federal police May 25 as he arrived at Cancún airport on a flight from Mexico City. He faces charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime, with federal prosecutors accusing him of provided information and protection to Los Zetas and the Beltran Leyva gang. But supporters of Sánchez, who recently took a leave as Cancún’s mayor to run for governor, condemned the charges as politically motivated.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic said in a statement that Sanchez had been under investigation since January. “He was moving so much money and it just didn’t match up with the amount he made as a public servant,” the statement said. Officials reportedly found that Sánchez, a successful former resort builder, was moving funds through his accounts in sums far bigger than his reported income of $1.5 million.
Speculation in the press also links Sánchez to the slaying last year of retired army general Mauro Enrique Tello, who had just started work as Sánchez’s security advisor. Three Sánchez associates, including Cancún’s police chief, were arrested in connection with the assassination.
But Sánchez’s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) issued a statement following the arrest saying his detention was an attempt to damage popular support for the opposition party ahead of the July 4 elections. The statement also quoted Sánchez as saying he had been threatened. “Resign from the race, or we are going to put you in jail or kill you,” Sánchez said, describing one of the threats against him. (AlJazeera, LAT, May 27)