The 64-year-old vice minister for public security, like hundreds of senior officials before him, disappeared into custody without anyone telling his family.
But unlike previous Chinese politicians purged for corruption, Mr Meng had a second job that put him at the centre of global headlines.
As the president of the international police body, Interpol, his disappearance last week prompted inquiries — not just from the world’s media, but from French police and Interpol itself.
In an incredibly rare move, his wife Grace Meng went public, showing French reporters the knife emoji that her husband is said to have sent to her before going silent.
Finally, China’s National Supervisory Commission — a new all-encompassing anti-corruption body — confirmed it’s investigating Mr Meng on suspicion of “violating laws”.
Chinese authorities have since clarified that Mr Meng is suspected of bribery and other crimes, adding the investigation is partly due to him “bringing trouble upon himself”.
If the spectre of the world’s top cop disappearing incommunicado seems baffling abroad, it doesn’t in China.
What’s more surprising is that for the first time since President Xi Jinping launched an unprecedented anti-corruption drive in 2013, a family member of an official caught up in it has dared speak to the world’s media (from the safety of France).
In China, Mr Meng’s case wasn’t mentioned in the state-run media until the National Supervisory Commission confirmed the investigation, although his demotion from a powerful Communist Party committee in April signalled trouble ahead.
Of much more interest to people here is the case of movie star Fan Bingbing, who vanished from public view for more than four months only to re-emerge last week owing $180 million to the tax bureau.
“This is the Communist Party’s habit, they rarely pay attention to due process or to the human rights aspects in these cases,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian and political commentator.
Fan, 37, has admitted wrongdoing and profusely apologised in an online letter, but has offered no clues on where she’d been for the past four months.
The only information comes from an anonymous source quoted by the influential South China Morning Post, claiming Fan had been held in a resort that’s usually used for officials under residential detention.
Human rights advocates point out that not everyone can call upon international police or millions of fans to draw attention to their case.
One lawyer, Wang Quanzhang, continues to be held incommunicado from his family while awaiting trial in a state subversion case.
Mr Wang had built a career taking on sensitive human rights cases, and his wife Li Wenzu said in the months after he disappeared, authorities wouldn’t provide any information about what had happened to him.
All these cases appear to affirm two things about China’s justice system — the norms of transparency and due process we’re accustomed to in places like Australia don’t apply.
And secondly, no matter how powerful or famous you are, no-one (aside from President Xi himself) is beyond the reach of authorities.