OTTAWA — Canadian businessman Daniel Dion once bragged about how well he paid the Mexican prisoners who stitched together his shiny designer handbags, and the ease with which he moved inside some of that country’s dangerous penitentiaries.
Now one of Dion’s former employees, an ex-con he hired to do computer work, has been detained in connection with his death last month.
The chief prosecutor in the state of Guerrero issued a release Monday saying police had taken 46-year-old Hector Juan Figueroa into custody.
Dion’s remains were found in his rental car in late October, after he did not return as scheduled from a business trip to Acapulco. Dion, 51, of Carleton Place, Ont., travelled frequently to Mexico to oversee his handbag business, Ecopurse.
The prosecutor’s office said Figueroa described himself in a statement as a friend of Dion, and let the Canadian sleep at his mother’s apartment while he was in Acapulco.
“He said that at dawn on Saturday, Oct. 23 of this year the (suspect) arrived at his house and found Daniel Dion drinking alcoholic drinks, and that he began to hit (Figueroa), and while defending himself, Hector Juan Figueroa hit him in the head and killed him,” says the release from the prosecutor.
“Later, he put the body in the victim’s vehicle, got into it, and drove it to where it to where it was found and set fire to it.”
The rental car was found in a remote area of Guerrero state after members of Dion’s family pressed Canadian and Mexican police to track him down.
Dion’s nephew, Shanny Bolduc, said the chief investigator in the case has not confirmed to the family any details of the detention or the statement.
“Nothing is confirmed yet,” Bolduc said in an email. “Daniel was not violent and there seems to be a lot of holes and doubts in (Figueroa’s) statement which is not confirmed.”
Bolduc said that he and other family members met and interviewed Figueroa on Oct. 30, the same day they found their uncle’s car.
He said police are still looking for Figueroa’s son, Daniel Diaz. Bolduc emphasized that Figueroa dumped the car and body in a sparsely populated area of the state.
“Consider this: if he did it, how did he drive the rental car 133 kilometres away from his house, light it on fire in the middle of a dump in the brush and get back to Acapulco?” Bolduc said.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said police had approached to ask about Figueroa’s whereabouts on the night of Dion’s disappearance, and issued the warrant for his detention after hearing several contradictory statements.
Figueroa is being held in a detention centre for 30 days, while prosecutors collect evidence.