Fugitive Mexican Politician Wanted on Organised Crime Charges Held In Guatemala

A former Mexican governor accused of mishandling millions of dollars from programs for the poor was arrested Saturday in Guatemala, according to the Mexican attorney general’s office.

Javier Duarte de Ochoa, former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, was detained by the Guatemalan police at a hotel in the tourist town of Panajachel, about 90 miles east of Guatemala City, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.

He’s being held by Guatemalan authorities while the Mexican government formally requests his extradition to Mexico, the statement said.
Duarte, 43, had been at large for more than six months.

The former governor is facing money laundering and organized crime charges. A Mexican judge had issued an arrest warrant against him in October.

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.

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.

to the gruesome discovery, Veracruz Attorney General Jorge Winckler told CNN affiliate Televisa that his state “is one big mass grave.”

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.

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    Javier Duarte de Ochoa, the fugitive former governor of the Mexican state Veracruz, has been arrested on corruption charges after he was detained in Guatemala. Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office said Duarte was wanted for money laundering and organised crime and they would request his extradition back to Mexico.

    Duarte, 43, had been on the run for six months when he was apprehended in Guatemala as a result of a joint operation by the country’s police force and Interpol. He had been governor of Veracruz for six years from 2010 to his resignation in October 2016.

    Speaking last year after he was accused of having links to phantom businesses that had successfully bid for state contracts, Duarte denied the accusations against him. He said: “I don’t have foreign accounts, I don’t have properties anywhere.”

    Representatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) said Duarte was found at a hotel where he had been staying with his wife.

    When asked to leave the room he did so without resisting, Interpol said.

    As Duarte arrived at a military base in the country’s capital, flanked by police, he gave no comment, according to the Associated Press.

    Duarte stood down last year in order to face the allegations against him, he said, after it was claimed that the Mexican government had found millions of dollars linked to him. However, Duarte disappeared shortly afterwards and had not been seen again until now.

    His arrest coincides with that of another ex-governor, Tomás Yarrington, of Tamaulipas state, who was arrested in Italy on suspicion of organised crime and money laundering. Meanwhile, César Duarte Jáquez, former governor of Chihuahua state and along with both others, a member of the Revolution Party (PRI), is wanted on suspicion of corruption.

    In a statement issued after Duarte’s arrest, the party said: “The PRI calls for all the relevant investigations to be carried out and, respecting due process, for the ex-governor of Veracruz to be punished in an exemplary fashion, as well as anyone who is confirmed to have taken part in his criminal ring.”

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz who is accused of running a corruption ring has been detained in Guatemala after six months on the run.

    Javier Duarte was seen as a high-profile symbol of government corruption in his country.

    Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said Duarte was detained on Saturday with the co-operation of Guatemalan police and the country’s Interpol office.

    He was in the municipality of Panajachel, which is a picturesque tourist town on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala’s highlands.

    Duarte was wanted on suspicion of money laundering and organised crime, and prosecutors directed the foreign relations department to request his extradition.

    A photo released by Guatemalan police showed a bespectacled Duarte being escorted by Interpol agents.

    Manuel Noriega, deputy director of Interpol in Guatemala, said Duarte was found at a hotel where he was staying with his wife.

    He was asked to leave his room, did so voluntarily and then was arrested without incident in the lobby.

    Mr Noriega said Duarte would be taken before a judge to consider his possible extradition.

    Duarte, 43, was governor of Veracruz from 2010 until he left office on October 12 2016, two months before the scheduled end of his term.

    He said he was doing so in order to face the allegations against him.

    At the time he denied having links to phantom businesses that allegedly won state contracts, and said he had not stolen a single peso of state money or diverted government funds overseas.

    “I don’t have foreign accounts,” he said last year. “I don’t have properties anywhere.”

    Duarte promptly disappeared and had been sought by Mexican authorities ever since. Earlier this year Interpol issued a notice for his capture.

    The Mexican government has found millions of dollars purportedly linked to Duarte, frozen more than 100 bank accounts and also seized property and businesses tied to the former governor.

    A reward of 15 million pesos (£583,000) had been offered for his capture.

    The detention comes a week after Tomas Yarrington, the former governor of Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, was arrested in Italy, also on allegations of organised crime and money laundering.

    Another ex-governor, Cesar Duarte of Chihuahua state, is also wanted on suspicion of corruption and is said to have fled to El Paso, Texas. He is not related to Javier Duarte.

    All three ex-governors were members of the ruling Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI, of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

    The party, which expelled Javier Duarte on October 25 last year, and has sought to distance itself from him, applauded the arrest.

    “The PRI calls for all the relevant investigations to be carried out and, respecting due process, for the ex-governor of Veracruz to be punished in an exemplary fashion, as well as anyone who is confirmed to have taken part in his criminal ring,” the party said.

    Duarte became a powerful symbol of alleged corruption during mid-term elections last year in which the PRI lost several governorships, including Veracruz, that it had held uninterrupted since its founding in 1929.

    He has also been widely criticised for rampant violence in the state during his administration, as drug cartels fought for territory and thousands of people were killed or disappeared.

    The dead include at least 16 journalists killed in Veracruz during his six years in office.

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