Fugitive ex-governor detained in Guatemala
GUATEMALA CITY | The former governor of Mexico’s Veracruz state who is accused of running a corruption ring that allegedly pilfered millions of dollars from state coffers was detained in Guatemala after six months as a fugitive and high-profile symbol of government graft in his country.
Javier Duarte, pale and visibly tired, was brought Sunday to a prison at a military base in the Guatemalan capital.
A statement from Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office said Duarte was detained Saturday with the cooperation of Guatemalan police and the country’s Interpol office in Panajachel, a picturesque tourist town on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala’s highlands.
It said he is wanted on suspicion of money laundering and organized crime, and prosecutors directed the Foreign Relations Department to request Duarte’s extradition via its Guatemalan counterpart.
Manuel Noriega, deputy director of Interpol in Guatemala, said Duarte was located 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 presented before a judge to consider his possible extradition.
At least two-dozen policemen guarded Duarte as he arrived at Guatemala City’s Matamoros prison.
“I have no comment, thank you,” he said to a question from The Associated Press.
Duarte, 43, was governor of Veracruz from 2010 until he left office Oct. 12, 2016, two months before the scheduled end of his term, saying 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.