Gabriel sings "The Mañanitas" for Duarte, left. Gabriel sings "The Mañanitas" for Duarte, left.

For the other Duarte, ‘no way to hide’

Chihuahua officials believe embezzling suspect César Duarte will be caught soon

While former Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte is getting all the attention as he faces corruption charges, the other Duarte could soon be in the limelight as well.

Authorities believe that César Duarte, governor of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, could be apprehended soon.

State Attorney General César Augusto Peniche indicated that the Chihuahua government — now led by Javier Corral of the National Action Party (PAN) — has already completed formal procedures with the United States government for Duarte’s arrest and extradition to Mexico.

He is believed to be living at one of his properties in El Paso, Texas.

Excesses became a hallmark of Duarte’s governorship and his 50th birthday party in April 2013 was particularly extravagant and, according to Chihuahua authorities, the beginning of his downfall.

Iconic singer Juan Gabriel, who passed away last year, performed for his fellow Chihuahuan and a crowd of high-profile guests at the elaborate bash.

Photos that subsequently circulated on social media incensed ordinary Chihuahua citizens as 2 million pesos was reportedly Gabriel’s regular fee at the time, although Duarte later claimed that his friend had performed free.

“We know that there were many excesses in the ex-governor’s term,” the attorney general said. “Million-peso bills for overseas trips where he took 20 [or] 30 people, all charged to the public purse. Trips to Mexico City where he rented luxury hotels for himself and his staff.”

Properties that he acquired during his governorship are also a focus of the probe into his alleged embezzlement and diversion of public funds.

Peniche stated that with just 10% of the investigation into the former governor’s activities complete, embezzlement of 1 billion pesos (US $56 million) has already been detected.

“It’s been a very arduous and complex task. Corruption-related crimes are disguised or they try to hide the origin [and] destination of the money,” Peniche explained.

He described corruption in the previous administration as “widespread” and said contracts for public works and other projects were granted without going through the proper tendering processes.

Duarte allegedly used phony invoices to justify his questionable transactions to tax authorities.

When the current Chihuahua administration made allegations against him, Duarte claimed he was a victim of political persecution and filed a human rights complaint against his successor.

Although they are not related, the similarities between the two Duarte governors don’t end with their names and alleged embezzlement of public funds.

Both represented the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Both lived large, allegedly on the public purse.

Both fled their home states — and the country — when things began to unravel, Javier to Guatemala and César to neighboring Texas.

And now, jail time perhaps beckons for both.

The Chihuahua government has considered César Duarte a fugitive from justice since March.

But just as Javier Duarte was extradited back to Mexico and is now feeling the heat of the justice system while he awaits trial locked away in a Mexico City prison, the Chihuahua government is confident that their Duarte will soon have his day in court, too.

“We are certain that will be the case. We have enough elements, we are documenting a significant number of investigation files on various crimes and in due course he will have to respond to these accusations,” Peniche asserted.

“There is no way to hide. There is no way to evade it. He will have to respond to the justice of the state of Chihuahua.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story described Juan Gabriel as a Chihuahua native. In fact, he was born in Michoacán.

Reader forum