A former Mexican governor sought by authorities on suspicion of corruption reappeared Thursday and turned himself in. Accompanied by his lawyer, ex-Gov. Guillermo Padres of the northern state of Sonora proclaimed his innocence in an interview with Radio Formula and said he was voluntarily appearing before a judge to face the allegations against him.
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“I go with my head held high,” Padres said. After the interview was over, he left the radio station in a white SUV. Mexican television news showed him being escorted by marines to a jail in the capital. Padres was governor of Sonora, which borders Arizona, from 2009 to 2015.
Late Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Gilberto Higuera Bernal said Padres and one of his sons were arrested on charges of organized crime and use of illicitly obtained funds. Crisongo de Jesus Diaz, head of the division for financial analysis in the Attorney General’s Office, said investigators had traced $8.8 million to accounts Padres controlled outside the country.
Authorities also allege that between 2009 and 2014, Sonora state awarded school uniform contracts totaling more than $20 million to front companies tied to Padres. Officials said they traced deposits totaling about $15 million from the fictitious companies to an account controlled by a Padres relative and low-level government functionary. The funds then spread out to accounts controlled by other family members, including Padres’ son, Diaz said.
Padres’ whereabouts had been unknown, and Mexican officials said in October that the international police agency Interpol had issued a red notice for his detention. “I was not fleeing, nor have I left the country,” Padres told Radio Formula. “I have always been in Mexico.”
Padres said it “pained” him greatly that his conservative National Action Party suspended his party rights. In a statement, the party said Padres made the right decision to submit himself to authorities.
“Just like every citizen, he has the right to a fair trial in which the diverse evidence will be evaluated with total objectivity,” the party said.
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