Friday, 21 September, 2018

Fugitive Mexican ex-governor moved to Guatemalan prison

Guatemala National Civil Police, Mexico's former Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte poses for Fugitive Mexican ex-governor moved to Guatemalan prison
Melinda Barton | 21 April, 2017, 18:16

Mexican authorities say fugitive former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte has been detained in Guatemala.

Javier Duarte was arrested at arond 8pm at the reception of a luxury hotel in the tourist resort town of Panajachel, Guatemalan police said.

In mid-October 2016, Duarte resigned as governor amid allegations of corruption and disappeared.

In January, authorities got two companies to return $19.3m obtained illegally from the Duarte government.

Duarte was wanted on suspicion of money laundering and organised crime, and prosecutors directed the foreign relations department to request his extradition. However, Duarte disappeared shortly afterwards and had not been seen again until now.

FILE - In this August 5, 2016, file photo, the former Governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte speaks to reporters as he leaves the Attorney General's headquarters in Mexico City. The former governor of Veracruz was traveling with his wife, who was not detained. Agriculture and oil-rich Veracruz, on Mexico's Gulf coast, is one of Mexico's largest states, and it has historically been a stronghold of Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Mexico says it has found millions of dollars purportedly linked to Duarte, frozen more than 100 bank accounts and seized property and businesses tied to the former governor.

"During the investigation, it came to light that various private airlines offering services to the region were charged with transporting (Duarte) to different points in Guatemala", he said. But authorities in Mexico vowed to recover the money Duarte allegedly stole and bring to justice his accomplices. A reward of 15 million pesos ($730,000) had been offered for his capture. "There will be no pardon".

"Veracruz is a lovely, long, thin state on the Gulf coast of Mexico where many journalists are terrified not only of the rampant organized crime groups that kill and control, but also of the state government". Duarte, Yarrington, Veytia and Cesar Duarte were all members of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's ruling PRI.

Duarte was a PRI party stalwart for years in Veracruz until he was expelled from the PRI in October.

So it's not too much of a surprise that, as the AP reports, the PRI cheered the capture of the former Veracruz governor, who the party said should "be punished in an exemplary fashion, as well as anyone who is confirmed to have taken part in his criminal ring".

Duarte became a symbol of corruption during his term in office as widespread disappearances and rampant violence including the murder of 17 journalists plagued Veracruz.

The state of Veracruz also became Mexico's most unsafe region for journalists, with 17 killed during his time in office.

Orsi reported from Mexico City.