The former governor of Veracruz, Mexico has gone missing amid a flurry of corruption allegations, dealing another heavy blow to the credibility of President Enrique Peña Nieto's scandal-plagued administration.
Mexican officials, who suspect that former Gov. Javier Duarte may have left the country, have requested that the international police body Interpol participate in the search for him in 190 countries, reported El País.
Duarte resigned from his post as governor of Veracruz on October 12 to face over 50 allegations against him, according to El País. Officials said on October 19 that an arrest warrant had been issued against the politician for racketeering and corruption charges, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Miguel Ángel Yunes -- Veracruz's governor elect who is set to take office on December 1 -- claimed that Duarte fled the state on October 15 aboard a helicopter provided by the current interim governor, Flavino Ríos.
Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong has since denied the possibility that Duarte escaped with help from the national government, adding that there are no legal records of the former governor leaving the country.
According to investigations by Mexican authorities, Duarte and the Veracruz government embezzled over $26 million in state funds by handing out false public contracts to "ghost companies," Animal Político reported.
In September, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional - PRI) suspended Duarte's party membership in the first such move in the party's history, according to PRI President Enrique Ochoa Reza.
InSight Crime Analysis
Duarte has been embroiled in criminal allegations for years, and his precipitous fall from grace will do little to help a national government already smeared by numerous scandals. Since taking office in 2010, Duarte is considered by some analysts to be responsible for plundering the economy of the oil-producing region and facilitating the local growth of organized crime. Murders and disappearances have shot up to record levels under Duarte's administration. He has even been accused of involvement in the killing of journalists in Veracruz, which has become the most dangerous state in Mexico for that profession.
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As El País points out, it was hoped that Duarte and other PRI governors under Peña Nieto's administration would revitalize the party's image, which had been tainted by corruption and clientelism. But the ruling party is unlike to come out from the Duarte case unscathed. Indeed, corruption is already thought to have cost the PRI a number of wins in the June 2016 gubernatorial elections.