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Ex-governor accused of stealing millions in public funds busted in Florida years after fleeing Mexico

2020-07-11

A former Mexican governor who left his state drowning in debt and is accused of stealing millions in public funds was arrested in Florida on Wednesday, years after he fled his country to evade prosecution, authorities said.

César Duarte, who led the northern border state of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, was wanted on multiple corruption charges, including embezzlement and criminal association.

Mexican prosecutors requested Duarte’s extradition from the U.S. last year after he was allegedly spotted in El Paso, Texas, and Albuquerque, N.M., according to BorderReport.com.

The U.S. Marshals Service tracked him down and arrested him in Miami, the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico said in a statement. Duarte, who appears to have overstayed his tourist visa, is expected to be extradited to Mexico in the coming days.

Chihuahua prosecutors launched an investigation into the ex-governor and dozens of former officials after a 2018 audit revealed a series of suspicious financial transactions. Authorities believe he bilked the state out of about $320 million shortly before leaving office in 2016.

His successor, current Gov. Javier Corral, celebrated Duarte’s arrest in a Facebook post, calling it “a triumph of the People of Chihuahua over the most brazen corruption our state has ever experienced.”

“The ex-governor amassed a billionaire fortune, acquired expensive farms, ranches, companies, and exotic cattle at the expense of the Chihuahuan people,” Corral wrote in a separate post Thursday.

Santiago Nieto, head of the Treasury Department’s Financial Intelligence Unit in Mexico, was also pleased by the news.

“No one is above the law,” he wrote on Twitter.

With News Wire Services