Broderick Crawford plays Mr. DeRetzo. He is an old gangster living in Mexico, he is elderly and sick and wants to get into heaven. He thinks the way to do this is to bribe the church.
DeRetzo has the Cross of Bayone; a thousand year old gold, jewel encrusted cross worth a million dollars. The cross is about 18 inches high, and a foot across so I would think it would weigh a lot, but people carry it around like it weighs very little. So maybe it is just gold leaf or the producers didn’t stop to think that that gold is very dense and it would actually weigh about 70 pounds!
There is an insurance agent, Waynemouth who had devised a plan to get the cross safely from Mexico to the Archbishop of Los Angeles. A priest and a cop start from his hacienda and after they cross the border they are met by an American cop and priest and they transfer the cross to them. Of course they check each other’s IDs first.
The transfer goes off without a problem, but the package when opened does not contain the cross. Banacek gets on the case and finds out that the area that the cross passed through in Mexico is very isolated. There is only a very small town named Libel and a small, isolated farm owned by a man named Selmo. He is a woodcarver and he has an adult daughter , Cecilia, with polio. They came in to some money and are in Mexico City to visit a shrine hoping for a miracle so Cecilia can walk. They were away during the cross's disappearance.