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Newsmonger: Symphony woes, Eagle Ford reserves questioned, Money laundering probe

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"It's a drilling treadmill," Rogers said, "that's what a lot of us call it. You get on and you can't get off, because the only way you can keep these shale plays going is just by prolific drilling, and that's very, very expensive."

Money laundering probe

A major federal money laundering probe linking brutal drug cartels and corrupt Mexican politicos with South Texas real estate seemed to hit another target last week.

Federal prosecutors are trying to seize two houses owned by Texas State University professor Sindy Chapa, according to documents filed in a San Antonio federal court last week claiming both homes were bought with proceeds from criminal activity. According to a government salary database maintained by the Texas Tribune, Chapa makes about $58,000 a year as an assistant professor at Texas State's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where she teaches advertising, marketing and public relations. The feds have filed to seize her home in Hays County, valued at $272,910, and another house in McAllen, appraised at $357,411.

The affidavit outlining why the feds wants to seize Chapa's property was sealed last week, and Chapa failed to return multiple phone calls and emails from the Current seeking comment.

While Chapa hasn't been charged with a crime, a Mexican blog, Columna Tamaulipas, claims Chapa had a long-standing romantic relationship with former Matamoros mayor and ex-Tamaulipas governor Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba, target of major money-laundering investigation began by the feds late last year.

While Yarrington has not been charged with a crime in the U.S., and through his lawyer continues to deny any wrongdoing, federal court documents claim he took millions in bribes from cartels and, "during and after leaving public office in Mexico, began investing large sums of these illicit funds in real estate in Texas and Mexico using specific front-men and corporate business elites." Federal prosecutors have filed to seize 46 acres on La Cantera Parkway, worth some $6.6 million, claiming that property was bought "with illicit funds by Yarrington" and some of his associates. Yarrington reportedly left the U.S. sometime this year, and last week a Mexican judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

The Express-News last week cited unnamed sources claiming the feds had investigated Chapa's relationship with Yarrington, leading them to seize her homes, saying they were bought with with illicit cash from the bribery scheme.

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