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MEXICO AUTHORITIES PROBE SLAYINGS OF WRITER, FAMILY.

Byline: Tracey Eaton The Dallas Morning News

The grisly killing of a crusading journalist, her husband and their three children had investigators scrambling for answers Friday, a day after police found their bodies beaten and stabbed.

Five months ago, author Yolanda Figueroa unveiled a new book, ``El Capo del Golfo'' (``The Boss of the Gulf''), which described the life and capture of Juan Garcia Abrego, a major Mexican drug trafficker who was convicted in Houston on a string of criminal charges in October.

The in-depth, 324-page book suggested that Mexican authorities may have protected Garcia Abrego until he was no longer useful, then captured him and turned him over to the Americans to placate U.S. officials who have been critical of Mexico's anti-drug effort.

At first glance, the author's killing may appear to be retaliation for the book, but some analysts aren't so sure.

Figueroa's husband, Fernando Balderas Sanchez, was a former judicial police official in Mexico City who reportedly left under a cloud of suspicion and dropped out of sight about two years ago.

Authorities said Friday there were warrants for his arrest in connection with allegations that he had raped a servant in his home and had received an extortion payment while he was a police official.

That would suggest a second theory: that Balderas was perhaps involved in illegal activities and made someone angry enough to kill him, his wife and their three children, Patricia Aline, 18; Paul Farid, 13; and Fernando Carlos, 8.

Unfortunately, many analysts said, things may not be that simple. A third, equally plausible theory, they said, is that Balderas was clean, but corrupt police colleagues framed him because he represented a threat, then later killed him or had him killed.

``It's quite an uncertain matter,'' said Jose Reveles, a Mexico City journalist who specializes in coverage of drug trafficking and corruption.

Typical drug killings involve torture because the assailants want to extract information from their victims before slaying them, said Tom Cash, a former high-level official with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In a three-page statement, Mexico City attorney general's authorities said Friday that the five victims were not tortured and ``the homicide was committed with speed and death came instantaneously.''

The bodies were discovered after the owner of a dry cleaning business in Mexico City reported an abandoned 1995 Ford Mustang. Police tracked down the listed car owner, and that man said he had sold the car to Balderas. Investigators then went to Balderas' house and found the bodies.

Police say assailants crept into the house Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning, killing the victims as they slept. There was no sign of forced entry, police said.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 7, 1996
Words:446
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