Ex-Mexican governor on the run is arrested in Guatemala

A former Mexican state governor on the run from police for more than five months who has come to symbolize corruption within the country's ruling party was arrested on Saturday night in Guatemala and now awaits extradition.

Duarte, 43, captured Saturday in Panajachel, a picturesque tourist town on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala's highlands, with the cooperation of that country's police and Interpol office, a statement from Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office said.

It said he is wanted on suspicion of organised crime and illicit enrichment.

According to the PGR, Mexico will be presenting a formal request for extradition within 60 days and undertake the extradition process with the Guatemalan government. The two accomplices have already been identified by Mexican authorities thanks to their tracking of information exchanged with Duarte.

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 President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

All three ex-governors were members of Pena Nieto's PRI.

Representatives of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) said Duarte was found at a hotel where he had been staying with his wife.

Mexico's former Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte, left, is escorted by an agent of the local Interpol office inside a police vehicle as they arrive at Guatemala City, early Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Duarte stepped down as governor on October 12, weeks before the end of his term, to face the charges against him, but then promptly disappeared. Duarte, who is accused of running a corruption ring to pilfer from state coffers, was detained in Guatemala on Saturday.

'More than 200m pesos ($9.7million) stolen from the people of Veracruz were spent doing up this house so that Duarte could have people over, now he won't host anything any more, ' Linares said.

Duarte stood down a year ago in order to face the allegations against him, he said, after it was claimed that the Mexican government had found millions of dollars linked to him.

"Veracruz is a attractive, 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".

In June, the opposition National Action Party won a hotly contested race to succeed Duarte in a stinging defeat for the PRI.

Still, a lawyer acting for Duarte said at the weekend he believed the former governor would accept his extradition.

He has also been widely criticised for rampant violence in the state during his administration, as drug cartels fought for territory and thousands of people were killed or disappeared.

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

  • Leroy Wright