Javier Duarte was seen as a high-profile symbol of government corruption in his country.
And former governor of the eastern state of Quintana Roo Mario Villanueva was arrested in 2001. The former governor had been linked to at least one real estate investment in the Phoenix area.
Dishevelled and unkempt, former Governor of Vera Cruz Javier Duarte was arrested in the lobby of a hotel in the town of Panajackel, 130 kms West of Guatemala City.
Elias said if Duarte did not fight the process, he could be back in Mexico in two to three months, and that the government would be trying to extradite him as fast as possible.
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His arrest coincides with that of another ex-governor, Tomás Yarrington, of Tamaulipas state, who was arrested in Italy on suspicion of organised crime and money laundering. After his capture, the party issued a statement calling for punishment that makes an example of him "as well as anyone who is confirmed to have taken part in his criminal ring", The Associated Press reported. State officials say schools, hospitals and other public institutions were stripped of resources under Duarte's government and that of his predecessor.
Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes Linares, who replaced Duarte, believed the property had been furnished using public funds.
Investigators "identified many homes, telephone numbers and vehicles related to people who helped Javier Duarte from Mexico City in the logistics of his stay and movement in Guatemala", Omar Garcia Harfuch, head of the Criminal Investigation Agency in Mexico's Attorney General's Office, told a press conference in Guatemala City.
"Veracruz is a handsome, long, thin state on the Gulf coast of Mexico where many journalists are terrified not only of the rampant organized crime groups that kill and control, but also of the state government".
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Critics of Pena Nieto say Duarte's arrest was meant to shore up support for the PRI ahead of a crucial state election in June and the presidential elections next year.
He had been governor of Veracruz for six years from 2010 to his resignation in October 2016.
Another former governor, César Duarte of Chihuahua state, no relation to Javier Duarte, remains at large.
A reward of 15 million pesos (£583,000) had been offered for his capture.
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Duarte also has been widely criticized for rampant violence in the state during his administration, as drug cartels warred for territory and thousands of people were killed or disappeared into clandestine graves in cases that mostly remain unsolved. Some 17 journalists were murdered during his six years in office, according to figures compiled by a special state committee.