Guatemala sends former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte back to Mexico to face charges

In this photo released by the Guatemala National Civil Police (PNC), Mexico's former Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte poses for photos escorted by an agent of the Interpol office in Guatemala, left, and a Mexico federal agent at a court room in Panajachel, Guatemala, Saturday, April 15, 2017. Duarte, who is accused of running a corruption ring to pilfer from state coffers, was detained in Guatemala on Saturday. A statement from Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office said Duarte was detained in the municipality of Panajachel, in coordination with Guatemalan police and the local Interpol office. (Guatemala National Civil Police via AP)

The former governor of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz was extradited from Guatemala to Mexico on Monday to face corruption charges.

Former Gov. Javier Duarte was flown to Mexico City after dropping a fight against extradition. Duarte appeared at the Mexico City airport clean-shaven, guarded and unsmiling, a contrast with his appearance in Guatemala, when he wore a full beard and often smiled broadly.

Duarte fled to Guatemala after resigning as governor of one of Mexico's most populous states amid mounting allegations of corruption. He faces charges that include organized crime, influence trafficking, embezzlement and abuse of authority.

"With this kind of actions, the Mexican government stresses its commitment to take concrete steps to reduce impunity ... and strengthen the rule of law," The Mexican Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

The case is sensitive for Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, which is trying to clean up its image ahead of next year's presidential vote.

Many party leaders had publicly hobnobbed with Duarte, whose state had been a key bastion for the party until it lost the governorship there this year.

Duarte's legal team has said the state charges are baseless and politically motivated.

Prosecutors allege that, as governor, Duarte embezzled millions and used much of the money to buy properties.

Duarte is one of three fugitive former Mexican governors arrested abroad recently. Italian authorities captured ex-Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington in April. In June, former Gov. Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo state was arrested in Panama.

All three belonged to the ruling party.

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