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Grisly murder points to drugs, powerful figures in Mexico

body outline December 6, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 p.m. EST

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Gangland style murders are nothing new in Mexico City, but the particularly gruesome slaying of a well-connected tabloid magazine publisher his journalist wife and their children was clearly no ordinary mob hit.

The murders are the latest -- and most grisly -- crime that appears to involve drugs and high level Mexican officials.

The entire family was bludgeoned to death Tuesday night as they slept. Police said on Friday they found the bodies of Fernando Balderas, his wife Yolanda Figueroa, and their three children on Thursday lying in pools of blood in their stylish home in the Pedregal district of Mexico City.

Why were they killed? Revenge is the apparent motive, but it's a mystery why the victims incurred such a fierce wrath and who could have inflicted it.

"It doesn't look as though robbery was the motive. There were valuable objects in the house that were not taken, though the house was left in disarray," said Jose Elias Romero, a city criminal prosecutor.

Complicated figure

Balderas family

Balderas is a complicated figure. Depending on which source you read, he is depicted as an anti-drug crusader or corrupt degenerate. He published a magazine about crime, murder and corruption, and in the past worked for Mexico City's notoriously corrupt judicial police.

Romero said in a press conference that Balderas had been charged with raping a maid in his own home and with extortion while he worked for the judicial police.

His wife, Yolanda Figueroa, had recently published "The Gulf Capo," a book about one of Mexico's most infamous drug traffickers, Juan Garcia Abrego. Abrego was extradited from Mexico to the United States this year and is awaiting sentencing after being convicted in Houston.

book

In one of numerous mysteries in the case, it's not clear whether the family was killed because of what he did, or she did, or both.

Some people believe that a clue to the murders may appear on the first page of the book Figueroa wrote about the drug trafficker.

Clues on the first page?

The book's acknowledgment is written to Mexico's powerful Attorney General -- who was fired this week, just two days before the assassination. Ricardo Cordero Ontiveros said he quit his job to denounce corruption.

ambulance

Immediately after he left office, police arrested Ontiveros, charging him with corruption and confining him to jail in Tijuana.

Mexico City officials are meeting with the new attorney general to try to solve the murder. "We're investigating Mr. Baldera's activities as a publisher, his police activities and his wife's activities as a writer, as well as the family's business dealings," he said.

Dealings, officials indicate, could be linked to drug trafficking. Already, the crime has undermined attempts to clean up Mexico City's violent and corrupt image.

Correspondent Lucia Newman and Reuters contributed to this report.

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