EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. authorities arrested in Miami a fugitive former Mexican governor accused of stealing millions in public funds and leaving his state deep in debt.
Cesar Duarte Jaquez was arrested Wednesday by the U.S. Marshals Service and will have a detention hearing in the next 72 hours in a federal courtroom for the Southern District of Florida, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
Duarte, 57, has been wanted on state corruption charges since 2017 and on federal illegal enrichment and conspiracy charges since 2019. The Mexican government last year requested his extradition from the United States after he was allegedly spotted in El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, N.M.
A federal judge in New Mexico last December issued an arrest warrant for Duarte in the United States in connection with Mexico’s extradition request, the Mexican AG’s Office said.
Duarte was the governor of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016 and president of the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico’s Lower House of Congress) from 2008 to 2009.
Upon leaving office, the incoming administration of Gov. Javier Corral allegedly discovered a budget deficit in excess of $2.5 billion and suspected the former governor had routed at least $12 million to his former political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Duarte allegedly entered the United States on Nov. 28, 2016 on an visitor’s visa, which expired six months later. He allegedly remained in the United States illegally since then.
News of the arrest comes on the same day that President Donald Trump was meeting in Washington, D.C., with his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“Today’s arrest is a triumph for the people of Chhuahua who demanded justice for one of the most blatant instances of curruption ever witnessed,” Gov. Corral said on Facebook Live. “Those who steal from the government don’t just grab people’s money, but also rob them of opportunities, of their hope for a better life.”
Corral accused Duarte of building a widespread network of corruption while in office, but also of bribing other government officials, politicians, businesspeople and even members of the news media.
“He amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune. He bought expensive houses, ranches, businesses and exotic animals. All of this well beyond his means,” Corral said of Duarte.
He vowed to sue in the U.S. so “the people of Chihuahua can get restitution” and thanked Lopez Obrador and top aides for pushing for the arrest of the fugitive politician.
Corral added that if Mexicans want to put a stop to corruption in their country, they have to work together despite their differences, and that Duarte’s arrest was an example of that.