The Mexican authorities are seeking to arrest a former governor who has disappeared as he faces charges of organised crime and money laundering, officials said.
Javier Duarte has not been seen for days after he resigned as governor of the crime-plagued eastern state of Veracruz last week.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant for him last week and the country’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has expelled Duarte, saying the official violated party rules as head of the state.
Duarte failed to attend a hearing of the party’s justice committee on Tuesday and his whereabouts are not known.
“The expulsion of Javier Duarte de Ochoa was decided because it has been proved … that he systematically violated the party rules and ethics codes,” the party said in a statement.
Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told Radio Formula last week that officials do not know where Duarte is but believe he is in the country because immigration authorities have no record of him departing.
Duarte was last seen in the state capital of Xalapa, Chong said before adding federal prosecutors were preparing a request for Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant if he does leave the country.
The attorney general’s office is investigating Duarte on allegations of illegal enrichment, embezzlement and breach of official duty.
The federal tax agency is looking into claims that his administration signed $174m in contracts with dozens of shell companies.
Duarte has rejected the allegations, and vowed to fight the charges when he resigned on October 12, less than two months before his six-year term was set to end.
With his expulsion, the ruling party of President Enrique Pena Nieto said it had re-affirmed its fight against corruption, an issue that had cast a shadow over the PRI.
Veracruz, an oil-rich state on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, has been marred by drug cartel violence, the murder of 19 journalists and a wave of disappearances in the past six years.