Ramon Alberto “Beto” Fuentes makes a point during an interview with the Nogales International in July 2014.

A local businessman and politician who pleaded guilty to drug-smuggling in the United States last year is no longer a candidate for elected office in Nogales, Sonora, after his own party pulled him off their ticket.

Ramon Alberto “Beto” Fuentes was wiped from the Labor Party’s (PT) candidate slate in a move approved by the Sonora State Electoral Institute (IEE) last Thursday.

Still, Fuentes is a key advisor to Leticia Calderón Fuentes, the PT’s candidate for Mayor of Nogales, Sonora, and he has close ties to Jhonatan Librado Grijalva Manzo, the man who replaced him on the party’s slate.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the PT wanted Fuentes off its ticket, but the move came weeks after the NI published an article detailing Fuentes’ plea deal and the story was picked up by a small number of news outlets in Sonora.

Fuentes was originally listed as the PT’s candidate for síndico procurador propietario in Nogales, Sonora, a job that’s roughly the equivalent of a city attorney. Grijalva was also on the original ticket as candidate for síndico procurador suplente – an alternate who’s available to serve in the same role if the “propietario” cannot.

Last week’s move bumps Grijalva into the principal role and adds Luis Enrique Gámez Ramírez as candidate for síndico procurador suplente.

The IEE’s seven-member General Council approved a request by the PT to change their ticket at a May 6 meeting without any discussion. An agenda item describing the party’s request didn’t give details about the reasons for the substitution except to note that a PT representative had presented the IEE with “candidate resignations” and asked for substitutions.

Elections are set for June 6 and Fuentes’ sentencing, which has already been postponed seven times, is currently set for June 15.

This Friday, IEE will hold a debate among Nogales, Sonora mayoral candidates. It is set to be streamed live at www.ieesonora.org.mx.

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