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Monday, 4 August 2014 | MYT 7:50 AM

Son of prominent Mexican politician charged in drug cartel case

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The son of a prominent ruling party politician in Mexico was charged on Sunday with withholding evidence as authorities investigate his potential ties to organised crime after a video surfaced showing him meeting with one of the country's top drug lords.

Rodrigo Vallejo is accused of being part of a cover-up and failing to answer questions by investigators with the federal attorney general's office, the government said in a statement.

The case threatens to damage the crime-fighting image of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has sought to deemphasize drug violence in favour of economic reforms.

Vallejo, the son of the former PRI governor of western Michoacan state, has claimed publicly that he was threatened and forced to meet with Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, leader of the violent Knights Templar cartel.

The leaked 18-minute video was made public last week and shows Vallejo chatting amicably with Gomez about Mexican politics, portions of which have been repeatedly played on national television.

The video immediately prompted calls from opposition politicians for a full investigation.

Vallejo's father, Fausto Vallejo, was elected governor in 2011 in a campaign marked by accusations that the PRI had colluded with organised crime to steal a narrow victory.

Vallejo resigned in June citing failing health.

The Knights Templar cartel clashed with vigilante groups in Michoacan earlier this year, prompting Pena Nieto to order federal troops into the restive state.

The Knights emerged from a split in another cartel in Michoacan known as La Familia and have controlled large swaths of the mountainous state in recent years.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Sandra Maler)


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