MEXICO CITY – A former secretary of the National Executive Committee of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Alejandro Gutierrez, has been arrested for allegedly diverting $13 million in public funds, prosecutors in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua said on Thursday.
Gutierrez was arrested on Wednesday in Saltillo, a city in neighboring Coahuila state, during “Operation Justice for Chihuahua,” the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office said.
Gutierrez’s arrest illustrates the level of corruption in former Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte’s administration and could hurt the chances of PRI presidential candidate Jose Antonio Meade in next year’s election.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has had to deal with allegations of corruption swirling around several PRI governors and former officials.
Gutierrez was arrested for being “likely responsible for the diversion of 250 million pesos ($13 million) from the public coffers in Chihuahua state,” the AG’s office said.
The former PRI official is charged “with having participated in a sophisticated scheme to divert the sum of 250 million pesos in public funds destined for the strengthening of educational programs in the year 2016,” the AG’s office said.
The funds, according to investigators, were diverted to the 2016 PRI election campaign.
Five individuals, including officials, politicians and businessmen, have been convicted in connection with the corruption network allegedly run by Duarte, and nine others are being prosecuted.
Duarte, who is suspected of being in hiding in the United States, is the subject of 10 arrest warrants.
The fugitive politician, who governed Chihuahua from 2010 to 2016, is accused of diverting public funds.