Omar Garcia, Director in chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) of Mexico speaks to the media during a news conference about former governor of Mexican state Veracruz Javier Duarte, who was arrested in a hotel lobby in the town of Panajachel on Saturday, at the Mexican embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala April 16, 2017.
A former state governor who had come to symbolize corruption within Mexico's ruling party, was arrested on Saturday in Guatemala, Mexico's attorney general's office said, in what could be a boost for embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Duarte left office October 12, several weeks before the end of his term, saying he was prepared to fight the criminal allegations. The authorities then declared him a fugitive.
It says he is wanted on suspicion of organized crime and illicit enrichment.
Duarte promptly disappeared and had been sought by Mexican authorities ever since.
In February, Miguel Angel Yunes, Duarte's elected successor from an opposition party, stood in a warehouse with large framed portraits of Duarte and his wife conveniently in the background. His party, known by its Spanish initials, PRI, is also locked in a tight race for the governorship of Mexico state, a historical stronghold for the party, where corruption has become a central campaign theme. Businesses and properties have been seized by investigators, who've also frozen more than one hundred bank accounts.
Authorities were tipped off to his presence in Guatemala by the November 10, 2016 detention of a person at the airport in the border city of Tapachula. But authorities in Mexico vowed to recover the money Duarte allegedly stole and bring to justice his accomplices. Interpol joined the search and the Mexican government offered a reward of about $811,000 for his capture. "There will be no pardon". Javier Duarte had been staying at the four-star hotel under a false name for at least two days.
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"Veracruz is a handsome, 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".
Another ex-governor, Cesar Duarte of Chihuahua state, is also wanted on suspicion of corruption and is said to have fled to El Paso, Texas.
The party, which expelled Javier Duarte on October 25 a year ago, and has sought to distance itself from him, applauded the arrest.
Public disgust with corruption also contributed to electoral losses for the president's party in elections for governor previous year, including in Veracruz, where the PRI had governed uninterrupted for more than eight decades.
Drug cartels warred for territory and thousands of people were killed or disappeared into clandestine graves in cases that mostly remain unsolved. Some 17 journalists were murdered during his six years in office, according to figures compiled by a special state committee.
Orsi reported from Mexico City.