Javier Duarte, former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz, is trying to escape federal charges accusing him of money laundering, theft, misuse of funds for personal gain, and corruption. Attempts to find him on several of his properties around the country have been futile. Governor-elect of the current administration Miguel Angel Yunes has stated that he will prosecute more members from Duarte’s former cabinet as the administration reaches to the end of its term in office.
A Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) member, Javier Duarte was elected in 2010 to serve as governor of Veracruz until 2016. This past year, his government has experienced harsh scandals and controversies. Journalists claim he used shell companies, companies founded under a third party’s name without their knowledge, to funnel state funds for his personal gain. Researchers also claim that occasionally the supposed owners of such businesses were deceased, or that government employees would ask for signatures of citizens, lying for the purpose of such signatures, and use the signatures to fill out required forms to open the businesses and use the people’s addresses.
The shell businesses received investments of at least 500 million Mexican Pesos (around 27 million USD). This money was directed towards private property for Duarte himself, friends, and family in the US and Mexico, including a residence in the Woodlands in Texas and around 30 properties in Miami. After the paper businesses were made public, scandal and protest ensued in the state.
On October 12, Duarte decided to resign as a governor 48 days before his term was over, claiming he wanted to clean his name. He stated he would be available for any complaints and questions the government had. However, as soon as he was charged in October 17 for organized crime and operating with illegally-obtained resources, Duarte left the capital city of Xalapa in a helicopter. The PRI expelled him from the party on October 25th, and his location remains unknown.
As Veracruz suffers from the crippling debt left by Duarte’s administrations, citizens have been vocal in calling for his arrest.