Fugitive Mexican governor Javier Duarte arrested in Guatemala

Fugitive Mexican governor Javier Duarte arrested in Guatemala

Javier Duarte "was located and detained for the goal of extradition in the municipality of Panajachel" in Guatemala's Solola department, Mexico's attorney general said in a statement.

He was captured Saturday at a hotel in Panajachel, a picturesque town on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala's highlands, with the cooperation of that country's police and Interpol office.

The former governor is wanted on suspicion of having siphoned off at least 645 million Mexican pesos (33 million euros, $35 million) of public money that was put into a series of shell companies.

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

"In our experience in the attorney general's office on extraditions with Guatemala, we're talking about six months to a year", Elias said on Mexican television when asked how quickly Duarte could be extradited to his homeland.

Duarte, from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), resigned a year ago before the end of his term and then went into hiding.

Duarte stood down previous year 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.

In the past, Duarte has denied the allegations against him, saying he had not stolen a single peso of state money or diverted government funds overseas.

He said: "I don't have foreign accounts, I don't have properties anywhere".

When authorities raided a warehouse belonging to him, they discovered a wide array of valuable assets, including many paintings. 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. Interpol joined the search and the Mexican government offered a reward of about $811,000 for his capture.

The detention comes a week after Tomas Yarrington, the former governor of Mexico's Tamaulipas state, was arrested in Italy, also on allegations of organized crime and money laundering.

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

But Olvera is not counting on any resolution of Javier Duarte's case soon.

He was suspended from this party, PRI - which is also the party of President Enrique Pena Nieto - before his disappearance.

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

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.



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