The accuser has become the accused in Mexico’s most spectacular murder case.
Mario Ruiz Massieu, who as a federal prosecutor claimed a high-level cover-up in his brother’s murder, was charged Monday with trying to divert attention from the true mastermind: the brother of then-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
And the Attorney General’s Office said it has learned from U.S. Customs officials that $6.9 million was deposited in a Houston bank under Ruiz Massieu’s name.
The money supposedly arrived between March and November 1994 - a period when Mario Ruiz Massieu headed anti-narcotics prosecutions in Mexico as well as the probe of the September murder of his brother, the second-highest official in Mexico’s governing party.
These were the latest shocking twists to a case that has shaken Mexico’s political establishment, already battered by the country’s economic crisis.
Ruiz Massieu appeared in a Newark, N.J., federal court on Monday to answer charges of failing to declare more than $43,000 in cash to customs officials. U.S. officials also asked he be held for extradition to Mexico.
A bail hearing was scheduled today in Newark.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said Monday that a judge had issued an arrest warrant for the former prosecutor, a necessary step for extradition. It said a formal extradition request would be made within 60 days.
As the court met in New Jersey, another judge in Mexico ordered Raul Salinas de Gortari held for trial on charges of plotting the murder of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, Mario’s brother.
Carlos Salinas de Gortari, whose presidential term ended Dec. 1, was not implicated.
The September assassination of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the No. 2 man in the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, was one of several high-profile murders and kidnappings that have jolted Mexico and called its stability into question.
A Roman Catholic cardinal was slain in 1993, the favored presidential candidate was assassinated in March 1994 and one of the nation’s top bankers was held by unidentified kidnappers for a huge ransom.
Mario Ruiz Massieu quit as deputy attorney general in November - days before his job was due to expire - charging that senior officials in the governing party had blocked his effort to solve the murder of his brother.