MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities are trying to detain the embattled former governor of Veracruz state who is under investigation for alleged corruption and whose whereabouts are unknown, a senior Mexican official said Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told Radio Formula that officials are not sure where Duarte is, but believe he is in the country because immigration authorities have no record of him departing.
Still, he said federal prosecutors were preparing a request for Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant if he does leave. Duarte was last seen in the state capital of Xalapa, Osorio Chong added.
“Security agencies are working to locate him,” he said.
Duarte stepped down as governor Oct. 12, a month and a half before his term was supposed to end. At the time he said he wanted to confront the corruption allegations, which he denies. The governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has stripped Duarte of his party rights.
Prosecutors have opened at least two investigations targeting the ex-governor for possible illegal enrichment, embezzlement and breach of public duty.
Critics say vast sums of state funds disappeared during the nearly six years Duarte led Veracruz, which has been plagued by rising drug gang violence as the Zetas and Jalisco New Generation cartels war for control in the Gulf Coast state.
A least 17 journalists were killed in Veracruz during Duarte’s time in office, and hundreds of people have disappeared.
In June, the PRI lost the Veracruz governorship for the first time since the party was founded over eight decades ago.
Gov.-elect Miguel Angel Yunes accuses Duarte of looting the state government and campaigned on promises to hold him accountable.
“Javier Duarte departs with his pockets full and leaves a Veracruz on fire,” Yunes said.
In August, Duarte expressed willingness to cooperate with prosecutors and traveled to Mexico City to make his own corruption allegations against Yunes.
Prosecutors are also hunting for former Sonora state Gov. Guillermo Padres, of the conservative National Action Party, on suspicion of corruption.