MONTERREY, Mexico — A Mexican judge has ordered properties of a former state governor in the ruling party seized as part of an investigation into fraud and other crimes, putting the spotlight on political corruption ahead of local elections this weekend.
Ernesto Canales, a top anti-corruption official in the opposition-controlled region of Nuevo León, said Friday the order was granted against seven officials, including ex-state governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz, for suspected embezzlement, breach of office and other crimes that cost the state 3.6 billion pesos.
Medina de la Cruz, who was governor of Nuevo León between 2009 and 2015, belongs to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is competing for 12 state governorships this weekend, many of them close races.
Canales said Medina de la Cruz and the other officials would have to respond to charges the state’s anti-corruption authorities would be presenting to a judge in the next two months.
Home to the industrial city of Monterrey, Nuevo León is one of the country’s richest regions. Medina de la Cruz’s record in office came under heavy scrutiny last year, when the state elected Mexico’s first independent governor to succeed him.
Jaime Rodríguez, a former PRI politician nicknamed “El Bronco” (the gruff one), won the Nuevo León governorship by a landslide last June after running an anti-establishment campaign that railed against corruption in Latin America’s No. 2 economy.
The PRI ruled for 71 consecutive years until it was voted out in 2000. By then it had become a byword for corruption.
Peña Nieto returned the party to power in 2012, pledging a new era of clean government. However, his administration has battled allegations of graft during the past two years.