EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Chihuahua governor wanted for embezzlement makes first appearance in federal Court

Politics

Lawyers for Cesar Duarte ask judge for time to prepare response to extradition request sought by Mexico

In this Oct. 5, 2012 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, left, and Gov. of the northern Mexican border state of Chihuahua Cesar Duarte, talk following the 30th annual Border Governors Conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Mexico’s federal government said Wednesday, Jan 17 2018, that it will file extradition requests for Duarte, a former ruling party governor accused of diverting public funds. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A former Mexican governor accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars while in office made his first appearance in U.S. federal court on Friday.

U.S. Deputy Marshals arrested Cesar Duarte Jaquez Wednesday in Miami on an extradition warrant issued by a federal judge in Albuquerque, N.M. He is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

Audio of Cesar Duarte’s initial hearing held Friday, July 10, 2020 in U.S. Federal Magistrate Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Duarte appeared via videoconference before a U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida. The magistrate wanted to set dates for bond and evidence hearings, but Duarte’s attorneys, Henry P. Bell and Armando Rosquete, requested more time to prepare.

“We do believe we need some time to get ready here. We have to confer with his lawyers in Mexico and sort of dig into this,” Bell told the judge. “That complaint is pretty long and detailed.”

The magistrate gave the lawyers three possible dates — July 23, Jully 24 or the week of the 27th — as options, but ended up putting the hearing on hold pending a status hearing with Duarte’s defense team scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The magistrate ended the hearing after asking Duarte if he consented to the next hearing being through teleconference only and being absent from the status conference with his attorneys. His lawyers told the court he agreed.

Duarte faces a slew of state and federal charges in Mexico, ranging from illicit enrichment to criminal conspiracy.

The U.S. federal complaint requesting his extradition to Mexico details how he allegedly funneled more than $100 million to relatives, friends and associates in the guise of government contracts, purchases and farm subsidies.

The complaint alleges most of that money went to private companies for which Duarte was president or a major shareholder, to the son of a childhood friend, and a trust held by him and his wife.

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