When the Attorney General’s Office wanted to arrest and question him, it had gone up in smoke. Since the day that the general secretary of the PRI, José Francisco Ruiz Massieu, was assassinated, at the end of September 1994, federal deputy Manuel Muñoz Rocha, designated by the perpetrator as one of the masterminds of one of the crimes that shook to Mexico almost forty years ago. With the disappearance of the legislator, a hasty process began, at times grotesque, which left questions unanswered.
The hitman hired to kill Ruiz Massieu He spoke at length, and did not hesitate to point out those who had recruited him to commit the crime. From that moment on, they began to talk about Manuel Muñoz Rocha, former regional director of Banrural, former candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, federal deputy for the VII district of that state and undersecretary of Organization of the CEN of the PRI. While the authorities promptly captured Fernando Rodríguez González and Abraham Rubio Canales, there was no sign of Manuel Muñoz Rocha, but he began to work from a distance, or so it was said.
Through messages, presumably written by him, Manuel Muñoz Rocha requested leave from his position of popular representation, as he said in that letter, to be in a position to appear before the authorities and face the accusations. That license was granted on October 5, 1994, by the Permanent Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. The PAN and the PRD questioned the authenticity of the deputy’s request, deputy Gustavo Carvajal Moreno sent the original to the PGR to prevent the PAN bench from advancing in its proposal to submit Muñoz Rocha’s signature to a graphoscopic analysis.
There were many speculations, from the simplest to the very elaborate and even somewhat delusional, aimed at establishing the motives for the murder of José Francisco Ruiz Massieu: that if the PRI leader aspired to carry out far-reaching political reforms “that were not convenient for the PRI” or to the contractors of the assassin, that if the drug trafficker had taken revenge, through the assassination of the former governor of Guerrero, for the actions that the brother of the victim, Mario Ruiz Massieu, carried out to combat drug trafficking. There were other hypotheses, rather petty: that if Abraham Rubio Canales, who had been imprisoned in an Acapulco prison, held a grudge against José Francisco because he had not helped him get out of jail…. That seemed to have no end. Naturally, there was talk of strong internal struggles in the PRI, of an internal war that would stop at nothing. Ignacio Pichardo Pagaza, president of that party, will say: “I flatly deny that there is an internal struggle for power in the PRI.”
Among the many stories, gossip and suppositions, Muñoz Rocha was linked to Raúl Salinas de Gortari, because at some time, the deputy had been his collaborator. It was said, then, that the Tamaulipas legislator was only an executor of the orders of the president’s powerful brother.
On February 28, 1995, Raúl de Salinas de Gortari was apprehended, designated as one of the intellectual authors of the murder of Ruiz Massieu. He was also charged with influence peddling, tax evasion and corruption. But was there a mobile? Those who supported this hypothesis had an answer for everything: surely, it was a matter of preventing José Francisco Ruiz Massieu from exposing not very legal businesses and ties to drug traffickers.
But the investigation was not as solid as it was claimed. The evidence seemed flimsy, not quite conclusive. The person in charge of the investigation, Mario Ruiz Massieu, brother of the victim, resigned from his position and went to the United States. He would commit suicide there, while Raúl Salinas was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He served 10 years and three months of that sentence, because he was finally exonerated of the highly complex conspiracy that was blamed on him to kill José Francisco Ruiz Massieu. It had not been possible to fully demonstrate the intellectual authorship that led him to prison.
Meanwhile, Deputy Manuel Muñoz Rocha continued to be a name, barely smoke, just a memory. An amazing story would be woven around him.
“LA PACA” APPEARS ON THE SCENE
Two years after the murder of Ruiz Massieu and the consequent disappearance of Manuel Muñoz Rocha, a “witch” and “seer”, Francisca Zetina, familiarly known as “La Paca” ended up involved in the investigations that sought to locate the missing deputy.
La Paca had dealings with characters from the country’s political life, to whom he did “jobs” and gave amulets. Presumptuous, she went so far as to say that Raúl Salinas de Gortari was looking for her to “perform protection rituals for her.” La Paca also revealed that she had visions of her. And she had a vision, that’s what she said, that allowed her to know where Muñoz Rocha was.
The strangest, most absurd thing about the case was that the federal authorities bought his speech. It was Deputy Attorney Pablo Chapa Bezanilla who enthusiastically welcomed the visions of La Paca, who, in October 1996, assured that he could lead the PGR to the place where the missing deputy was.
La Paca affirmed two things: one, that Muñoz Rocha was dead. Two, that his body was hidden in nothing less than a farm called El Encanto, owned by Raúl Salinas de Gortari.
Federal authorities mobilized towards El Encanto. The deputy attorney gave a press conference explaining the data provided by La Paca, and then he himself took her to the site indicated by the “vision.”
When the reflectors were on, Paca began to say that there was not a good feeling on the farm, and that supernatural things happened there: “I told them that there were negative vibrations in that place. It is not a healthy place, there are supernatural things. The grass doesn’t smell like grass, and everything is very mysterious.”
On October 9, during a search on the grounds of El Encanto, a skeleton was found. La Paca immediately stated that it was Muñoz Rocha.
Both the deputy attorney and Antonio Lozano Gracia, Attorney General of the Republic in those days, ended by thanking the seer for her work. Faced with the embarrassment of the media and the country’s intelligentsia, they even revealed that the PGR paid La Paca four million pesos for her collaboration.
The matter was already quite surreal, delusional, but the final act was still missing.
THE FALSE REMAINS OF MANUEL MUÑOZ ROCHA.
Although the authorities were very satisfied with their work, joy went to hell when the remains were analyzed in Mexico and the United States. They were not the remains of Manuel Muñoz Rocha. What’s more: it wasn’t even the bones of a single person.
La Paca asked his son-in-law Joaquín Rodríguez Cortés for help to exhume the body of his own father on the night of October 3, 1996. Those were, in principle, the remains that he would later confess, were taken to Encanto to bury them in the place that , from “her vision”, the false witch would point out. But Paca’s son-in-law, when making his order, did not realize that in the grave of the seer’s father there were remains of several relatives, an issue that was made public when analyzing the remains and the deception was exposed.
La Paca had brought Chapa Bezanilla a text in which he expressed his famous vision, assuring that Muñoz Rocha had been killed with a blow to the head, and marking the place where the body would have been hidden.
The scandal was very big. Ridiculous, the authorities had no choice but to arrest, in February 1997, Paca and her relatives, accused of deception, and without the right to bail. La Paca was released from prison in April 2008 and went to live somewhere in Iztapalapa.
Ridicule cost attorney Lozano Gracia his job, and sub-attorney Chapa escaped to Spain. From there he would end up confessing, by letter, the details of the fraud.
In 2009, the prescription of the crime of the homicide of José Francisco Ruiz Massieu was declared. The arrest warrant against Muñoz Rocha, who never appeared, was without effect.
There are those who have assured that the former deputy has been seen in the United States, but there is nothing concrete. The authorities closed the case, a little because of the procedural times, but also because it was one of the biggest blunders in the history of justice in Mexico. Not every attorney accepts that one of his collaborators rely on a psychic to solve a murder.
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