Monday, June 24, 2024

Thousands of horses, cattle at risk on ranches of fugitive ex-governor

Thousands of head of cattle, thoroughbred horses, wild boars, llamas and other exotic species that were seized by the government from the ranches of former Chihuahua governor César Duarte are in danger of dying due to lack of resources and abandonment, the newspaper Milenio reports. 

Duarte, governor of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, is wanted for embezzlement after it was detected that 6 billion pesos (around US $317 million at the time) had gone missing from public coffers during the last six months of his administration.  

Duarte is also accused of cattle rustling after the majority of 1,500 head of cattle that the state government imported from New Zealand to help drought-stricken ranchers in 2015 ended up on his ranches.

The former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governor is a fugitive from justice and thought to be living in Texas or New Mexico. 

Prosecutors have seized Duarte’s properties in Mexico, which have been under the administration of Héctor Hugo Pérez. He claims that he has yet to be paid for his services by the Chihuahua government

Pérez said he had been paying the bills himself for three ranches and five walnut orchards seized from Duarte, but he exhausted his line of credit and claims that he hasn’t seen a check from the state government since the beginning of 2019.

In January of this year, the state brought on a new administrator and barred Pérez access to the properties. Since then, more than 200 head of cattle have died due to neglect, the newspaper El Heraldo De Juárez reports.

Last week 1,000 calves were auctioned off and the proceeds of the 10-million-peso sale (US $433,566) went directly to the state government. 

Attorney General César Augusto Peniche Espejel estimates that there are around 4,000 head of cattle remaining on the former governor’s properties. 

Source: Milenio (sp), BBC (en), El Heraldo de Juárez (sp)

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