December 24, 2016 / 2:01 AM / in 10 months

Costa Rica probes reported detection of wanted Mexico politician

FILE PHOTO: Javier Duarte, Governor of the state of Veracruz, attends a news conference in Xalapa, Mexico, August 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Costa Rica said on Friday it was investigating whether a former Mexican state governor wanted on corruption charges had entered the country illegally.

Following a report from a Mexican newspaper that the politician was in Costa Rica, Security Minister Gustavo Mata said that Javier Duarte, who governed the Gulf state of Veracruz until taking a leave of absence in October, had not been registered entering the country legally.

“If he is detected here in Costa Rica, he will be detained and immediately deported,” Mata told a news conference.

Citing intelligence sources, newspaper El Financiero reported that Duarte had traveled to the capitals of Costa Rica and Guatemala. In Costa Rica he was traced last week to a hotel in San Jose, the paper said.

Duarte, who was expelled from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) after the probe into his alleged involvement in organized crime and money laundering, stood down shortly before the end of his six-year term.

Duarte denied any wrongdoing before going underground.

His disappearance embarrassed Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office vowing to get tough on corruption but has instead been accused by critics of allowing it to go unpunished.

Reporting by George Rodriguez; Editing by Sandra Maler

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