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One of the ranches seized in Veracruz. One of the ranches in Veracruz.

Ex-security chief’s three ranches seized

Javier Duarte's former head of state security allegedly owned the property

Authorities in Veracruz have seized three ranches that allegedly belonged to Arturo Bermúdez Zurita, the state’s chief of security during the administration of Javier Duarte.

Bermúdez is already in custody facing charges of enforced disappearances and illicit enrichment while Duarte, who held office from 2010 to 2016, is also in prison and awaiting trial on corruption allegations and links to organized crime.

The ranches — located on a single property in the municipality of Naolinco near the state capital Xalapa — feature three general-use buildings, a chapel, a lienzo charro (rodeo arena), sports fields, a badminton court, an artificial lake, stables, equestrian facilities, a zoo and a greenhouse.

Horses, llamas, dogs, cats, geese and peacocks were found on the property as well as firearms, marijuana and two sculptures of cows. It is believed that the value of the property could exceed 100 million pesos (US $5.4 million).

Current National Action Party (PAN) Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares said the ranches were held in the name of the brother of the former secretary of public security, Miguel Bermúdez Zurita.

He added that they had previously been held in the names of the ex-official’s parents and various other relatives and associates.

“What they [Duarte and officials in his administration] did against Veracruz is brutal; every day more and more properties appear, we have placed emphasis on recovering assets in cash and properties,” the governor said.

Prior to the seizure, Yunes explained that personnel from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) had gone to the property to carry out an inspection but were confronted by armed men who prevented them from carrying out the work.

Officials from the state Attorney General’s office subsequently carried out an operation on March 23 to take possession of the property, he said.

The Yunes administration has now recovered a total of 22 properties and other belongings linked to corruption allegedly committed during Duarte’s governorship as well as 720 million pesos (US $39.2 million) in cash.

Among the assets seized are ranches, houses, commercial premises, parcels of land and helicopters.

The state of Veracruz has also gone to court in Florida to recoup more than US $25 million that was allegedly invested by Duarte in 41 properties in Miami-Dade County.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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