Mexico has requested Guatemala to extradite a fugitive former governor suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Former Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte, 43, was finally captured after a six-month manhunt Saturday evening at a hotel in Panajachel, a picturesque town on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala’s highlands, with the cooperation of the country’s police and International Police (Interpol).
He was taken under heavy guard Sunday to a military prison in Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City.
Duarte, the former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) member had come to symbolize official corruption to many in Mexico where he is wanted for money laundering and organized crime.
He is accused of running a corruption ring that allegedly pilfered millions of dollars from Veracruz’s coffers, and stripped its schools and hospitals of their resources.
In the past, Duarte has denied the allegations against him, saying he had not stolen a single peso of state money or diverted government funds overseas.
Mexico said 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. A reward of $730,000 was offered for his capture.
Duarte’s detention came a week after Tomas Yarrington, the former governor of Mexico’s Tamaulipas State, was arrested in Italy, also on allegations of organized crime and money laundering.
Another former governor, Cesar Duarte of Chihuahua State, is also wanted on suspicion of corruption and is said to have fled to El Paso, Texas in the southern United States. He is not related to Javier Duarte.
All three former governors were members of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s PRI.
The party, which expelled Duarte on October 25, 2016, issued a statement applauding his arrest in Guatemala.