A Texas trade lawyer who had been a Carnegie Mellon University trustee until this summer helped a brutal Mexican cartel launder millions in drug money, according to federal agents in El Paso.
Marco Delgado, 46, is in custody in Texas and faces a detention hearing today before a federal magistrate.
Charged with conspiracy to launder drug money for the Milenio cartel, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested Mr. Delgado at a restaurant in El Paso on Friday. He appeared in federal court for an initial appearance hearing on Monday and was ordered detained until today.
The U.S. Attorney's office has asked a judge to keep him in custody as a flight risk. More details about the case are expected to be revealed at the hearing because federal prosecutors will be required to outline the case in arguing for detention.
Mr. Delgado, a principal in the El Paso law firm Delgado and Associates who lives in a tony suburb of that city, was indicted under seal in September.
Details of the charges in court papers are sparse, but the grand jury said Mr. Delgado conspired with others to launder drug proceeds from narcotics sales by the Milenio cartel between July 2007 and December 2008 in Texas and elsewhere.
The amount is unspecified in court papers but is believed to be more than $600 million.
The Milenio cartel was one of Mexico's ruthless drug gangs, regularly doing battle with the Mexican military, until the arrest of leader Oscar Nava Valencia in 2009. The cartel is considered defunct, but former members have started new gangs or joined others.
Mr. Delgado, who received his law degree at Texas Tech University, has close ties to the new Mexican government.
He took a leave of absence from his law practice this year to join Enrique Pena Nieto's successful campaign for president of Mexico and had been retained to help with the transition.
Mr. Nieto takes over in January.
Before he went to law school, Mr. Delgado studied at CMU's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, graduating in 1990.
In 2003, he gave the Heinz School $250,000 to establish a fellowship in his name for Hispanic students. At the time, it was the largest gift by an alumnus in the history of the school.
Mr. Delgado was appointed to the board of trustees in 2006 and left this summer.
CMU spokesman Ken Walters said Wednesday only that Mr. Delgado is no longer a trustee and that the school will have no further comment.
Torsten Ove: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1510.