Former Chihuahua Governor César Duarte. Photo: FGR México

By MARK LORENZANA 

As a precautionary measure, Mexican Control Judge Humberto Chávez on Sunday, June 5, ordered a one-year preventive detention (jail without bail) against César Horacio Duarte Jáquez, the former governor of Chihuahua and member of the centralist and once-all-powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), for alleged crimes of embezzlement and criminal association.

Judge Chávez set the indictment for Wednesday, June 8. Duarte is currently detained at the State Social Reintegration Center in the municipality of Aquiles Serdán, Chihuahua.

On Thursday, June 2, the United States extradited Duarte to face corruption charges stemming from his time in office. The charges involve almost $5 million in state funds that Duarte allegedly took during his term as governor of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016.

After more than three years on the run, Duarte was nabbed by operatives of the U.S. Marshals Service on July 8, 2020, in Florida, seven months after Mexico requested for his extradition in late 2019. In October 2019, a Chihuahua control judge issued an arrest warrant against Duarte.

Duarte denies evading justice and fleeing Mexico amid accusations from Mexican authorities that he had misappropriated public funds. He declared before Judge Chávez that he traveled to the United States on Dec. 12, 2016, to undergo surgery on his spine at a hospital in Houston, Texas, because of complications from an injury he suffered in 2015. Duarte added that he was afraid to return to Mexico after receiving death threats from criminal elements.

Between 2017 and 2018, at least 11 arrest warrants were issued against Duarte, and in March 2017, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) issued a Red Notice for him, and he had been wanted in more than 190 countries since then.

Before his extradition back to Mexico, Duarte was being held in a prison in Miami.

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