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US sends Chinese-Mexican businessman caught with $200 million in cash back to Mexico

The United States has extradited an alleged drug trafficker to Mexico nearly a decade after police discovered $205 million hidden throughout his Mexico City mansion.

Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon was arrested in the U.S. in July 2007, four months after the police found cash stuffed in filing cabinets and suitcases throughout his home. Photographs of the mountains of cash collected in the seizure caused a minor international sensation at the time.


The dual Chinese and Mexican national had legally obtained permits to import pseudoephedrine into Mexico from Asia in order to supply producers of legal pharmaceuticals.

But the Mexican authorities charge that he actually sold the chemical to Mexican drug cartels that used it to make methamphetamines, largely for consumption in the U.S. They claimed the mountain of money found in his home was the result of unlaundered profits.

Ye Gon himself, however, alleged that he was actually holding the cash for a corrupt member of the cabinet for then President Felipe Calderón. In an interview with the Associated Press in July 2007, weeks before his arrest, Ye Gon said labor minister Javier Lozano had threatened him with death if he did not cooperate.

The authorities announced the return of Ye Gon to Mexico on Tuesday afternoon by way of a live feed showing the long-sought businessman descending the stairs from a plane.

His return to Mexico comes just as U.S. authorities seek the extradition of legendary Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Last week, Mexico’s National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said he expected to send Chapo to U.S. in early 2017. He is wanted in several U.S. courts where he is to face charges of drug trafficking and murder, among other crimes.

Many of those commenting on social media played off the belief that the timing of Ye Gon’s extradition was no coincidence.

“USA: I’ll swap my Zhenli Ye Gon for your Chapo,” tweeted one user. “Mexico: We’ll see…”