Mario Ruiz Massieu, the former Mexican deputy attorney general who killed himself Wednesday while facing U.S. and Mexican criminal charges, claimed in his suicide note that he was driven to his death by a conspiracy against him led by Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo.
"I am absolutely innocent of all charges against me," Ruiz Massieu wrote. "Ernesto Zedillo never forgave me for denouncing the leaders of the [ruling party]" in 1994. "He took revenge for that."
In the note, distributed by his New York lawyer today, Ruiz Massieu further alleged that members of Mexico's ruling party had assassinated his brother, the party's second-ranking leader, and that "President Zedillo is well aware of this, since he had a lot to do with it."
Jorge Madrazo, Mexico's attorney general and one of those named in Ruiz Massieu's suicide note as one of his "assassins," described the note as "the expression of a psychopath," Reuters news agency reported.
Facing a 25-count money-laundering indictment in federal court in Houston, Ruiz Massieu took an overdose of antidepressants Wednesday at his home in Palisades Park, N.J., ending his life just two days before his Houston arraignment--and taking to his grave whatever secrets he knew.
Ruiz Massieu was a central figure in the Mexican elite in the early 1990s, both as the country's top drug prosecutor and as a close confidant of then-President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who appointed Ruiz Massieu to government service.
But Ruiz Massieu ended up buried beneath an avalanche of allegations, including charges that he covered up evidence in the investigation of the 1994 assassination of his brother, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, to protect President Salinas's brother, Raul Salinas, who ultimately was convicted of the murder.
Later, Ruiz Massieu was alleged to be in league with a huge Mexican drug cartel, and this summer he was charged in the United States with laundering $9.9 million of drug money through banks in Houston.
Ruiz Massieu's attorney, Cathy Fleming, and his widow, Maria Eugenia Ruiz Massieu, portrayed him today as the victim of a broad conspiracy of fabricated evidence and bought witnesses in both the Mexican and U.S. cases.
Fleming, a former federal prosecutor, noted that four U.S. judges on separate occasions had denied Mexico's request for Ruiz Massieu's extradition on the grounds that the evidence Mexico presented was not credible.
But the money-laundering case against Ruiz Massieu was more than solid, said John O'Neill, the Justice Department's deputy chief of narcotics, who was to prosecute him. "The strength of the case was $9 million physically moving from Mexico to the U.S.," O'Neill said, "sometimes in rubber bands, sometimes wrapped in cellophane, sometimes in cardboard boxes."
Ruiz Massieu's fortune was discovered when he fled Mexico for Spain in March 1995 and was detained en route at Newark International Airport with more than $40,000 of unreported cash. After his arrest, he was held in various kinds of detention, including house arrest at the New Jersey residence he shared with his wife and 10-year-old daughter.