After a six-month manhunt spanning at least three continents, the former governor of Veracruz state in Mexico was captured in Guatemala and will face extradition to Mexico, where he is wanted on suspicion of diverting millions of dollars to phantom companies, Mexican authorities said.
Javier Duarte, who served as governor of Veracruz from 2010 until last October, was found late Saturday night holed up in a hotel with his wife in the resort town of Panajachel, on Lake Atitlán in the highlands of Guatemala, officials said. He has denied the charges against him, which include graft and organized crime.
During his run from the law, Mr. Duarte, once considered a luminary of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, became a quintessential symbol of malfeasance and a huge embarrassment to the party, which has been criticized for its inability to rein in rampant corruption.
But Mr. Duarte’s capture could provide some political capital to President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose approval ratings have plummeted over the past two years and whose party is preparing for a close, fierce fight to hold onto the presidency in elections next year. His party, known by its Spanish initials, P.R.I., is also locked in a tight race for the governorship of the State of Mexico, a historical stronghold for the party, where corruption has become a central campaign theme.
Mr. Duarte was one of a triumvirate of rogue P.R.I. governors sought by the Mexican authorities. Tomás Yarrington, the former governor of Tamaulipas state who has been accused by Mexican and American prosecutors of money laundering and racketeering, among other charges, was captured in Italy last week. Both Mexico and the United States are expected to file extradition requests with the Italian authorities.
Another former governor, César Duarte of Chihuahua state, no relation to Javier Duarte, remains at large. He has been accused of embezzlement and, according to the Mexican authorities, is thought to be hiding in the United States.
P.R.I. had sought to isolate Javier Duarte, expelling him from the party soon after his disappearance. After his capture, the party issued a statement calling for punishment that makes an example of him “as well as anyone who is confirmed to have taken part in his criminal ring,” The Associated Press reported.
NEW YORK TIMES