The former governor of Nayarit Roberto Sandoval and his daughter, Lidy Alejandra, were arrested early this Sunday in the municipality of Linares in the state of Nuevo León, as confirmed by sources from the federal government to EL PAÍS. The former official is accused by the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) of the crime of “operations with resources of illicit origin” and had been a fugitive from justice for at least three months. A federal judge had issued the arrest warrant for the two on March 1 and the Public Ministry had asked Interpol to publish a red card. Sandoval, from the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), ruled Nayarit between 2011 and 2017 in a dark period that left a trail of forced disappearances, tortured people and families dispossessed of their homes.
When issuing the arrest warrant in March, the judge had considered that both the former governor and his daughter had carried out an “inordinate” amount of operations “to the economic detriment of the public finances of Nayarit”. The magistrate also said that it was possible that the two had “a high economic capacity” to flee from justice and it was likely that they had “ties with an organized criminal group.” March was the fourth arrest warrant against the former official. In November 2020, when a state court requested to bring him to justice, the Nayarit authorities reported that Sandoval was no longer in the state. Since then, the whereabouts have been unknown.
Both the Mexican Public Ministry and the United States Government set their sights on Sandoval after his term ended, for having accumulated wealth that was not compatible with his earnings as a public official. Much was said then about the expenses of the ex-governor. A fan of horses, his fortune was then speculated on hundreds of these animals of purity. A passion that ended up playing against his family, the Public Ministry linked his daughter to the case through the equine therapy foundation he runs, since he suspects that it was used to divert resources and launder money of illicit origin.
The former governor was also linked to Edgar Veytia, who headed the State Prosecutor’s Office during his government after being appointed by Sandoval himself. Veytia, convicted in the United States for drug trafficking, orchestrated under the protection of Sandoval a network of dispossessions and kidnappings that left at least a thousand disappearances and opened the doors to the different cartels in the area, then disputed by the Sinaloa Cartel and the of Jalisco. During his trial in 2019, the former Mexican prosecutor pleaded guilty to having instigated drug trafficking from Mexico to the United States. This judicial process has left latent doubts about how much responsibility for criminal operations fell on the governor and whether it was possible that he was unaware of the regime of terror to which his State was subjected when he was the highest authority.
Subscribe here to newsletter of EL PAÍS México and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of this country