RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian city on Wednesday was left without a government because of the arrests of the mayor, deputy mayor and the leaders of the municipal council, among other officials, all of them accused of corruption.
The unusual situation occurred in Dourados, a city of more than 200,000 residents located in the west-central state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Mayor Ari Artuzi was arrested along with 27 other people, among them his immediate subordinates, in a Federal Police operation to capture officials accused of bidding fraud, ongoing corruption and illicit association.
The warrants were issued by state and municipal courts and carried out Wednesday by some 200 Federal Police officers.
Among those arrested were also the mayor’s wife, Maria Aparecida de Freitas Artuzi, the municipal secretaries for public works, finance, administration and urban services, as well as several councilmembers and businessmen and the director of a hospital.
Investigators say the suspects were skimming 10 percent off the top of the city government’s contracts with private firms.
The investigations suggest that the diversion of public funds went to personally enrich the alleged ringleader Artuzi, as well as to bribe councilmembers in exchange for their political support and to finance election campaigns.
The Federal Police said in a communique that they seized at the mayor’s house about 100,000 reais ($57,000) in cash.
The arrest of the top political officials in the city left it “in the dark,” a city hall spokesman complained, going on to say that he did not know who would take charge of the local administration.
The seven department heads who are not involved in the corruption complaints, however, are set to meet to find someone who can temporarily step in to take the reins of government, the spokesman said. EFE