Authorities in Chihuahua seized four ranches Saturday that allegedly belong to fugitive former state governor César Duarte.
Current governor Javier Corral said Sunday that the secured properties cover 2,344 hectares of land. Bison, llamas, wild boars and New Zealand-bred cattle were located on the farms, Corral said.
All the seized ranches are located in the municipality of Balleza, in the south of the state.
The governor said the cattle match those that Duarte has been accused of stealing after he and another state governor imported more than 1,500 head of beef cattle from New Zealand in 2015 to help local farmers repopulate their drought-stricken ranches.
Corral stated that 20 properties owned by Duarte have now been seized.
State Attorney General César Peniche Espejel said the four most recent seizures, along with a fifth 30,000-hectare ranch that was appropriated on February 20, are together worth more than 100 million pesos (US $5.3 million).
The largest ranch, located in the municipality of Camargo, was allegedly purchased by the ex-governor for 60 million pesos (US $3.2 million) using the name of a high-ranking former official.
Peniche also said the Chihuahua government will continue its investigations to identify other properties bought by Duarte both within the state and beyond its borders, including ones that may have been acquired using front men.
The ex-governor, who was in office from 2010 to 2016, is accused of corruption and illicit enrichment and is believed to be in hiding in the United States.
Announcing the property seizure, Corral again called on federal authorities to act to bring Duarte back to Mexico to face justice.
“I take the opportunity to once again urge the federal government to comply with its signed commitment and for the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) to act swiftly and give legal certainty to the extradition process of César Duarte Jáquez, so that he appears before the courts of our state and the justice that Chihuahua demands is served,” he said.
Corral has made prosecuting corruption committed during Duarte’s governorship a central goal of his administration and has charged that the federal government is deliberately dragging its heels on its extradition efforts.
Last month, he also accused the federal government of withholding funds promised to the state in retaliation for an investigation into corruption allegedly committed by members of Mexico’s ruling party.
In addition, a protest march from Chihuahua to Mexico City that ended earlier this month was intended in part to pressure authorities to hasten the extradition of Duarte.
The Mexican government subsequently pledged to reinstate funding to the state and announced that it would proceed with its requests for Duarte’s provisional arrest and extradition.
However, despite that assurance the ex-governor remains at large.
Source: Milenio (sp)