The former governor of Chihuahua César Duarte, in a file photo


The former governor of Chihuahua César Duarte, in a file photo
The former governor of Chihuahua César Duarte, in a file photoSusan Montoya Bryan (AP)

César Duarte will render accounts before the Justice in Mexico. The former PRI governor of Chihuahua had been a fugitive since 2017, shortly after the end of his term, stalked by twenty complaints of corruption. In July 2020 he was arrested in Florida where he has been incarcerated until now. The US authorities have launched the extradition process this Thursday and Duarte could be presented today before a court in Chihuahua. The former governor, one of the exponents in his day of the alleged renewal of the PRI led by former President Enrique Peña Nieto, is accused of diverting at least 120 million pesos.

Duarte’s extradition had already been accepted by a Miami judge almost two years ago. The transfer has been delayed because the former governor’s lawyers exhausted all resources before the judge’s decision, which she had declared as “credible” the corruption crimes charged by the Mexican government. Specifically, Duarte is accused, among other things, of embezzlement and diversion of public funds, for having indebted the State of Chihuahua in more than 48,000 million pesos and for having diverted at least six and a half million dollars (about 120 million pesos) to two companies: Unión Ganadera Regional General División del Norte de Chihuahua and Financiera de la División del Norte. Likewise, he is accused of having diverted another 250 million pesos for PRI political campaigns.

The US Justice confirmed in its response to the extradition request two years ago that there are witnesses who prove the responsibility of Duarte, who ruled Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, as the mastermind who ordered the millionaire diversions of the public coffers. The Mexican government launched an arrest warrant in 2018 and asked Interpol to issue a red card, which allowed his arrest in 2020. The Mexican Foreign Ministry has published a statement underlining that “the delivery made today is the result of the close collaboration between both countries that since 2019 have been exchanging information and documentation within the framework of the applicable bilateral extradition treaty.”

Duarte was one of the three young governors that former President Peña Nieto publicly put forward as an example of renewal within the old PRI machinery. The other two were the president of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, and that of Quintana Roo, Roberto Borge. All of them were gradually being expelled from the party due to corruption scandals and all of them are today imprisoned for the embezzlement of millions from the coffers of their states. The ruling of the Miami judge established, after taking a statement from the former Secretary of State Finance and reviewing the bank and tax documentation of the former governor, that there is “circumstantial evidence that Duarte tried to deprive the State of Chihuahua of the funds, and that he did so. for their own benefit”.

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Duarte will be delivered in the first instance before a judge in Chihuahua, but it is not ruled out that the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) decides to bring the case to the federal level, as pointed out by the current governor of Chihuahua, the PAN member Maru Campos, in a video uploaded to their social networks shortly after the activation of the extradition was known. In addition to the charges proven by US justice, in Mexico he expects another barrage of accusations. His successor, Javier Corral, also a PAN member, accuses him of diverting around 1,200 million pesos (more than 60 million dollars) during his administration. The former governor was also accused of diverting around 250 million pesos (12 million dollars) from the public treasury to finance PRI campaigns in 2016.

In addition, he is responsible for increasing the state debt to 48,000 million pesos (2,500 million dollars) and embezzling more than 6,000 million (320 million dollars). The bulk of the complaints accuse him of embezzlement. The Mexican press reports 11 arrest warrants against the politician. In 2018, the Attorney General’s Office, predecessor of the FGR, dismissed a complaint against Duarte for the diversion of 65 million pesos.

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