Former Chihuahua governor fears assassination if returned to Mexico

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Prosecutors refute claims made by Cesar Duarte in Florida courtroom, saying he's trying to avoid facing embezzlement charges

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Chihuahua officials on Thursday refuted claims by a former governor that he will be assassinated if a U.S. judge approves his extradition to Mexico.

Chihuahua State Special Counsel Jorge Espinoza (State of Chihuahua)

“In the absence of legal arguments, the ex-governor’s defense is resorting to unfounded arguments … what we commonly call ‘grasping at straws,’” said Jorge Espinoza, special counsel for the state of Chihuahua. “His life is not at risk in any way here at whatever prison he is sent to once he is extradited.”

Cesar Duarte Jaquez remains in a South Florida prison after being arrested July 8 outside a car shop near Miami International Airport. A federal magistrate in New Mexico issued an arrest warrant against Duarte last April for the purpose of his extradition to Mexico on aggravated embezzlement and aggravated conspiracy charges.

According to the complaint, Duarte used the power of his office to funnel some $100 million in state funds to his personal businesses, employees and associates while he was governor from 2010-2016.

Lauren F. Louis, U.S. federal judge for the Southern District of Florida, is presiding over the extradition request and has scheduled a Jan. 14 hearing.

Espinoza said Duarte’s lawyers have told the judge their client fears for his life if he’s sent back to Mexico, citing last year’s murder of former Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval and violence against other political figures.

Border Report reached out by telephone and email to the law firm of Bell, Rosquete, Reyes, Esteban in Coral Gables, the attorneys of record for Duarte, but did not receive a response.

“He is portraying himself as a victim, he’s trying to avoid extradition,” said Luis Fernando Mesta Soule, the Chihuahua secretary-general. “Of all the persons who have been arrested in this (case), none have lost their lives. […] There’s nothing to justify his claim; nothing is going on in the prisons to arrive at that conclusion.”

He said 30 former state officials and other individuals have been arrested so far in connection with embezzlement and conspiracy charges going back to the Duarte administration.

Chihuahua officials last year seized 10 properties linked to Duarte, including homes, farm tractors, motor vehicles and a ranch.

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