Mexican ex-governor caught after 6 months on the run
Duarte’s case is an embarrassment to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Both politicians belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI by its Spanish acronym, which governed Mexico for most of the 20th century. Peña Nieto once mentioned Duarte as an example of the new, younger, less corrupt PRI.
PRI applauded Duarte’s arrest in a statement published in the party’s website Saturday.
“We demand federal authorities to recover the money and goods from illicit activities and fully repay the people of Veracruz,” the statement said.
Authorities claim Duarte enriched himself from 2010 and 2016 by misappropriating funds that should have been used for social, education and security programs.
In November, Mexican officials froze 112 bank accounts belonging to Duarte. They also seized five businesses and four residences owned by the former governor. The Mexican government was offering about $810,000 for information leading to his capture and arrest.
Violence in Veracruz
The state of Veracruz has seen a spike in violence in recent years fueled by drug violence and a turf war involving at least two drug cartels.
Veracruz was called a “state of terror” in a report published in February, by the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization that analyzes criminal trends and proposes solutions. The group analyzed at least 2,750 missing person cases and the murders of 17 journalists since 2010.
Last month, a mass grave with more than 250 human skulls was uncovered in Veracruz. Those killed were likely the victims of drug cartels over the years, authorities said. Reacting to the gruesome discovery, Veracruz Attorney General Jorge Winckler told CNN affiliate Televisa that his state “is one big mass grave.”
Former governors wanted
Duarte is just one of a several former Mexican governors in trouble with the law.
Last week, Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba, former governor of the violence-ridden state of Tamaulipas who had been on the run since 2012, was captured in Florence, Italy.
Yarrington was sought by both Mexico and the United States on charges of money laundering and racketeering.
“Yarrington received large bribes from major drug traffickers operating in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, including the Gulf Cartel. In return, Yarrington allegedly allowed them to operate their large scale, multi-ton enterprises freely, which included the smuggling of large quantities of drugs to the United States for distribution,” according to the FBI.
Late last month, Mexican authorities issued an arrest warrant for former Chihuahua state governor Cesar Duarte, who ruled Mexico’s largest state between 2010 and 2016. He is being sought on embezzlement charges. Cesar Duarte is not related to the former Veracruz governor.
Duarte fled the state and is believed to have crossed into the United States, current Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral told CNN affiliate Televisa.
He was added to the Interpol’s list of wanted fugitives.
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