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Ex-governors Sandoval, left, and Duarte: partners in crime? Sandoval, left, and Duarte: partners in crime?

Ex-governors accused of cattle-buying plot

Citizens' group files criminal complaint against Nayarit, Chihuahua ex-governors

Two former state governors used federal government resources to buy some of the 12,000 head of cattle they imported from New Zealand for their own personal gain, a citizens’ group has told authorities.

Members of the Nayarit-based Comisión de la Verdad, or truth commission, filed a criminal complaint last Thursday with the Chihuahua Attorney General’s office against the ex-governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval, and the former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte.

The commission requested that authorities investigate the two governors for illicit enrichment, embezzlement, organized crime and the use of funds derived from illegal sources.

According to evidence presented as part of the complaint, the pair used federal money allocated to their states for agricultural programs to buy the New Zealand-bred cattle in 2015 and 2016.

The citizens’ group has asked prosecutors in Chihuahua to seek information from the New Zealand embassy in Mexico to trace the funds that the two governors allegedly spent in that country.

The group says there is evidence that of 6,000 head of cattle Duarte received, 4,000 were transported to a ranch owned by Sandoval in San Blas, Nayarit. It has asked the Chihuahua Attorney General’s office to investigate Duarte for the crime of concealing goods acquired with public money.

The group also charges that Sandoval transported cattle he received to the states of Jalisco, Querétaro, Colima and Coahuila.

The complaint — seen by the newspaper El Universal — also states that shortly after he took office in December 2011, Sandoval started buying horses from Spain. The ex-governor allegedly brought 350 mares into the country for breeding purposes through the Mexico City International Airport.

The complaint raises the possibility that the mares were obtained by Sandoval for personal gain but paid for with public money.

After passing through an agricultural sanitation inspection, the horses were transported to Sandoval’s Nayarit ranch. In a video posted to YouTube in 2012, the ex-governor shows his property to reporters and boasts about the horse breeding stables he owns with well-known Mexican singers.

According to the complaint, at least 40 other people were complicit with Sandoval in his illicit activities.

The Nayarit Truth Commission has also filed a criminal complaint against Sandoval with the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) for illicit enrichment.

On January 10, the Justice and Human Rights Commission of the Nayarit Congress started political proceedings against Sandoval for the diversion of public resources and improper management of public funds.

If he is found guilty, he will face administrative sanctions and a disqualification from holding public office, the maximum punishment that Congress can impose.

Both governors represented the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the latter is currently a fugitive from justice who is believed to be in hiding in the United States. Federal authorities are seeking his provisional arrest and extradition to Mexico to face corruption charges.

For Duarte, it is not the first time that he has been accused of being a cattle rustler.

The organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity charged last year that the former Chihuahua governor stole at least 900 head of cattle that were bought by his government in 2014 for small producers affected by drought.

He is accused of using at least 10 shell companies to make deals for personal gain using public money during his six-year administration from 2010 to 2016. In total, the ex-governor is accused of embezzling 1.2 billion pesos (US $64.4 million).

Source: El Universal (sp)

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