Mauricio Fernandez couldn't have been happier.
Here he was, being sworn in again as mayor of one of northern Mexico's most exclusive communities, and he had wonderful news to share: "Black Saldana, who apparently is the one who was asking for my head, was found dead today in Mexico City," he told his cheering supporters Saturday in San Pedro Garza Garcia, near Monterrey.
The problem was that the barefoot, blindfolded corpse of "Black Saldana" — whose real first name is Hector — wasn't found for another 3 1/2 hours, according to Mexico City prosecutors. And he wouldn't be identified for two days.
Now this cartel-plagued nation, usually nonchalant about a spate of kidnappings, extortion and executions, is engrossed with this not-so-straighforward murder that links drug lords and politicians.
The mayor is facing tough questions about the killings: How did he know his nemesis was dead before the authorities apparently did? Does he have associations with the cartel that may have killed the men?
And what exactly did he mean when he said, during his acceptance speech, that he knew Saldana and his associates wanted to hurt him, and that "by fair means or foul, we are not going to accept any kind of kidnapping ... and if not, they will pay for it."
The mayor's initial answer, repeated in a series of interviews, was simple: "Sometimes there are coincidences in life; it's better to look at it this way."
But when pressed, Fernandez offered an intriguing explanation. He said U.S. authorities tipped him off that somebody intercepted cartel communications and learned Saldana was planning to kill him, and he said unspecified intelligence sources told him Saldana was dead hours before the bodies were found.