César Duarte, the former governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, allegedly stole hundreds of cattle through a state sponsored program.
The cattle theft allegations stem from a shipment of 1,408 imported heifers arriving in Mexico via New Zealand in June 2015. The heifers were supposed to be distributed to smaller ranchers through a state government program to help replace cattle lost to drought while bringing in new genetics from Angus and Hereford heifers.
Records obtained by the watchdog group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity show that 903 heifers were taken to a ranch in Chihuahua owned by Duarte, while hundreds of other cattle were given to his political associates.
It is reported that only 145 head of cattle made it to ranchers who were participating in the program.
The Chihuahua government paid 11,032,000 pesos (approximately $700,000 at the time) for the heifers. Ranchers participating in the "brood re-stocking" program could take loans out to pay for cattle. Loans were 20,000 peso ($1,061 at the current exchange rate) per heifer. There were 93 small ranchers who were participating, with a small producer being defined as having 45 cattle or less.
If convicted of cattle rustling, the penal code in Chihuahua says the punishment ranges fro three to 15 years in prison and a fine up to 500 times the minimum wage. A maximum penalty can be applied when the theft is of 10 or more head of cattle.
Duarte is no stranger to legal trouble as he is accused of embezzling 79 million pesos (approximately $4.2 million) for misappropriating public funds. The ex-governor is currently on the run from Mexican authorities in the U.S., with reports being that he is in Texas. He fled to El Paso in March of this year.
The video below shows cattle imported into the same port in Mazatlán from New Zealand in 2015: