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article imageCosta Rica on lookout for fugitive Mexican ex-governor

By AFP     Dec 23, 2016 in World

Costa Rican authorities said Friday they were on the look-out for a fugitive Mexican ex-governor suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars after Mexican counterparts said he was last traced to a luxury zone in their capital.

Security Minister Gustavo Mata told a news conference that there was no sign of the former head of Mexico's Veracruz state, Javier Duarte de Ochoa, entering Costa Rica under his own name.

But he didn't rule out that Duarte was traveling under false papers, as reported in Mexico's press.

"I have ordered authorities with the migration service to investigate, and if he is located to deport him immediately to Mexico," Mata said.

He added that the last time Duarte used his Mexican passport to enter and leave Costa Rica was six years ago.

According to an online report by Mexico's El Financiero media group citing security officials, Duarte disappeared from Veracruz with his family in October shortly after stepping down from his job amid corruption allegations.

He was traced to neighboring Guatemala and then, last week, to a five-star hotel in the chic western Escazu district of Costa Rica's capital from which he was said to have made an intercepted phone call to relatives.

Duarte is being probed for the suspected embezzlement of $1.6 billion from public accounts through a network of shell companies, among other crimes.

Mata confirmed that Duarte's former treasurer, Vicente Benitez, owned several properties in Costa Rica.

But he said a search of them had not turned up any leads.

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