Where Are Manuel Buendía's Killers Today?

Manuel Buendía wasn't the type of journalist who sat back and made notes just to relay what was said at some boring conference. He was one of the true investigative journalists of old, the type they tell stories about and the type who made wave upon wave in the lives of those hiding secrets they shouldn't have had in the first place.

Probably his most famous work involved looking into organized crime. In fact, he had a whole column pretty much devoted to the subject, "Private Network," that shares the same name as the Netflix documentary about his death, "Private Network: Who Killed Manuel Buendía," which drops on July 14.

Buendía's work often looked at drug trafficking and its ties to both corrupt Mexican officials and the CIA, among other crimes. As you may have guessed already, there were a lot of shady folks who didn't like the journalist, so when he was murdered in 1984, the whodunit became a much bigger question than could be answered by the people put away for the killing. Of course, those are the only two murderers that we know of in this crime, and these days, they're not in the place you'd assume them to be. Let's take a look.

Two men were convicted in Buendía's murder

On the morning of May 30, 1984, Manuel Buendía thought he was lined up for a pretty good day. According to Open Democracy, he'd just finished a major piece tying drug lords to officials from low on the ladder all the way to the upper echelons of government. He'd done some good work. While walking to his car, he stopped to adjust his tie, which gave an approaching motorcyclist enough time to pull up on the sidewalk behind Buendía and shoot him dead. The director of Federal Security, José Antonio Zorrilla Pérez, was on the scene within minutes, El Universal says, which was a little too speedy. Some might even say "suspicious."

It would be discovered later that Zorrilla Pérez was the mastermind behind the murder, driven by a fear of the journalist exposing his misdeeds. The man convicted of pulling off the actual assassination, the one operating the motorcycle, was Juan Rafael Moro Ávila. Though many believe there was a second man who actually pulled the trigger, the suspect died before he could be properly investigated and tried, according to Radio Times.

Both Zorrilla Pérez and Moro Ávila were convicted shortly after their arrests and sentenced to hefty prison sentences for a crime that wasn't a meticulously planned out murder. You'd be surprised by just how few years they got.

None of the killers are behind bars today

The two convicted killers weren't sentenced to life in prison. Moro Ávila was given 25 years, as Radio Times explains, and Zorrilla Pérez was slapped with 35 years. The murder happened in 1984, which means Moro Ávila was released in 2009 and Zorrilla Pérez was released a few years early in 2013. But they aren't the only ones thought to be involved in Buendía's killing.

Moro Ávila has claimed to be innocent of pulling the trigger since the beginning, but instead, according to El Universal, claims a man by the name of El Chocorrol carried out the act and was killed the following day. This man may actually be a known suspect who died a similar way, José Luis Ochoa Alonso. Further, there are plenty of journalists who believe the murder was a much bigger conspiracy than it looks like on the surface. Given the subject matter of Buendía's work, this could be drug dealers, members of the Mexican government, or the CIA. Remember, these are just claims and haven't been officially proved in any way, so no one needs to disappear about it.

The question: Where are Manuel Buendía's killers today? The answer: All of them, and who knows how many that may be, are walking around as free men, unless, of course, the El Chocorrol story is true. Then it's "all minus one."