Mexican Ex-Governor Javier Duarte Arrested in Guatemala Following Six-Month Chase

Fugitive Mexican politician wanted on organised crime charges held in Guatemala

When Javier Duarte stepped down from office last October, the former governor of Mexico's Veracruz state vowed to fight the mounting corruption allegations that unraveled his tenure.

A statement from Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office said Duarte was detained in the municipality of Panajachel, in coordination with Guatemalan police and the local Interpol office.

He resigned his position as governor that same month, a few weeks before his six-year term was due to end.

When authorities raided a warehouse belonging to him, they discovered a wide array of valuable assets, including many paintings.

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. However, Duarte disappeared shortly afterwards and had not been seen again until now.

Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes Linares, who replaced Duarte, believed the property had been furnished using public funds. "Let there be no mercy for those who were merciless to the people of Veracruz".

Duarte, 43, was part of a wave of PRI governors in 2010 that would later propel Pena Nieto - himself also a young PRI governor - into the presidency two years later.

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. Javier Duarte had been staying at the four-star hotel under a false name for at least two days.

Authorities were tipped off to his presence in Guatemala by the November 10, 2016 detention of a person at the airport in the border city of Tapachula.

"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", said Garcia Harfuch. A reward of 15 million pesos ($730,000) had been offered for his capture.

"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 has also been criticized for rampant violence in the state during his administration, as drug cartels warred for territory and thousands of people were killed or disappeared.

Another former governor, César Duarte of Chihuahua state, no relation to Javier Duarte, remains at large.

Separately, Duarte's successor Yunes, a member of the center-right opposition, told Mexican radio it was hard to say exactly how much money the former PRI grandee had stolen.

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

Verza reported from Mexico City.

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