A former Mexican police chief once known for his polemical jousts with the media and other authorities has been murdered in violence-torn Chihuahua state.
Jose Refugio “Cuco” Ruvalcaba Plascencia was gunned down in broad daylight August 10 inside an Applebee’s restaurant in Chihuahua City. As many as three men picked out Ruvalcaba and opened fire at him with pistols, instantly killing the ex-police official, according to press accounts.
Also an agronomist by training, Ruvalcaba won awards for his service while he was Chihuahua City police chief during the mayoral administration of Gustavo Ramos Becerra in the mid-1990s. A native of Nogales, Sonora, Ruvalcaba went on to become a high-ranking police official in Mexico City (1998-2000), and later served as chief of police in the city of Zacatecas for six months before he was forced out in early 2008.
Politically, Ruvalcaba worked with officials identified with the PAN, PRI and PRD parties.
Ruvalcaba was perhaps best known for his short-lived stint as Ciudad Juarez police chief during February and March of 2003. Taking command of the force during the administration of Mayor Jesus Alfredo Delgado Munoz, Ruvalcaba arrived at the time of the exposure of a clandestine burial site of young female murder victims at the Cristo Negro mountain on the city’s edge.
The Cristo Negro case capped a decade of similar discoveries in and around Ciudad Juarez, with other femicide graveyards uncovered in Lote Bravo, Lomas de Poleo, Cerro Bola and the Campo Algodonero.
Ruvalcaba created a stir when he declared that city cops would investigate the women’s murders, a task which until then had been reserved to the corruption-ridden Chihuahua State Judicial Police. However, Ciudad Juarez’s new top cop lasted only 45 days on the job before handing in a supposed registration.
“There is someone in Juarez who does not want the women’s murders cleared up and the municipal police investigating,” Ruvalcaba was quoted in El Diario de Juarez, as he spoke out on his sudden departure from the city’s top law enforcement job. There was no further public clarification of Ruvalcaba’s remarks.
More recently, Ruvalcaba dedicated himself to private enterprise. He operated a money exchange house in Chihuahua City and a pecan sales company in Delicias, an agricultural center south of Chihuahua’s state capital. At the time of the businessman’s murder, he was on the verge of opening a private security firm dedicated to protecting other businessmen and government officials.
Ruvalcaba’s assassination was an announced one.
Within the past week, he was the reported target of threats and attacks, including an August 4 incident in which gunmen fired weapons and lobbed fire bombs at a family business in Delicias. Attackers returned on August 7, but this time left the body of an unidentified person along with a narco-style message threatening Ruvalcaba and family.
The gunmen who shot down Ruvalcaba were able to escape the crime scene with no problem. At press time, nobody had been detained for the murder. Like Ciudad Juarez to the north, Chihuahua City remains submerged in high levels of violence fanned by competing organized crime groups. On August 11, three people were executed inside Chihuahua City’s La Buena Vida (The Good Life) seafood restaurant in the presence of other diners and employees.
Sources: El Heraldo de Chihuahua, August 11, 2011. Articles by Jose Ernesto Topete and editorial staff. Lapolaka.com, August 10 and 11, 2011. El Diario de Juarez, August 10 and 11, 2011. Proceso/Apro, August 10, 2011. Article by Mauricio Rodriguez.
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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