The wife of former Veracruz governor Javier Duarte, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption, was arrested in London, England, on Tuesday, federal authorities said.
The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said that United Kingdom police arrested Karime Macías and that she will face an extradition hearing. They explained that she could either be held in custody while the extradition process takes place or released and placed under supervision.
Macías is wanted in Veracruz for her alleged participation in an embezzlement scheme that diverted 112 million pesos (US $5.9 million) from the state branch of the DIF family services agency to shell companies during Duarte’s term in office.
A state judge issued a warrant for her arrest in May 2018 while federal authorities said in October 2018 that they were investigating Macías for fraud and filed an application for her extradition from the United Kingdom.
Macías fled to the U.K. in 2017, claiming in a letter to the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office that she was forced to leave the country because of “persecution” in Veracruz.
Alongside her three children, she is believed to have lived a life of luxury in the English capital despite Interpol issuing a red notice for her arrest.
Duarte, who ruled the Gulf coast state between 2010 and 2016, is serving a nine-year prison sentence for money laundering and links to organized crime. The Federal Auditor’s Office said in 2016 that irregularities in the use of public funds during Duarte’s government were the worst it had even seen.
According to an analysis completed by the newspaper Reforma, Duarte and Macías built a multi-million-dollar real estate empire made up of more than 90 properties in Mexico, the United States and Spain.
Marco Antonio del Toro, a lawyer for Macías, said in an interview that his client submitted herself voluntarily to U.K. authorities. He said she received a notice last Friday to present herself “and did so punctually.”
Del Toro described the warrant issued in Veracruz for Macías’ arrest as “illegal,” adding that his client will fight against extradition to Mexico and hopes to do so without being remanded in custody.