July 17, 1997 in Nation/World

Drug-Fighting Publisher In Mexico Killed By Gunman

Associated Press
 

A newspaper publisher who crusaded against drug trafficking and political corruption in this Mexican border city was killed in a hail of gunfire outside his office.

Benjamin Flores Gonzalez, 29, was hit at least 17 times in the back and three times in the head Tuesday when he arrived at La Prensa, a daily newspaper in this city just south of Yuma, Ariz., prosecutors said.

No arrests have been made.

Flores made many enemies with columns accusing people of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking.

In a column published the day he was killed, Flores identified a city resident known as “El Pony” as the local contact of Sinaloan drug trafficker Hector Luis Palma Salazar. Salazar is in a maximum security prison near Mexico City.

“There were always death threats against him,” said Maria Del Carmen Velazquez, the paper’s editor. “Here, La Prensa is very strong, and we take on very combative issues.”

A person firing an AK-47 assault rifle from a car shot Flores at least 17 times in the back, then got out and shot him three times in the head with a pistol, said Francisco Pacheco Gomez, an agent with the Sonora state prosecutor’s office.

Flores, a member of the National Action Party, or PAN, used his column, “Not Confirmed,” to expose alleged drug traffickers and attack the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has dominated Mexican politics for nearly seven decades.

The PAN succeeded July 6 in winning the municipal election for a second consecutive term and only the third time in the city’s history.

Flores based his allegations on information he received from sources. Some of the allegations turned out to be false.

The former administrator of the city’s water department filed a lawsuit after Flores accused him of robbing the government of $3 million. Flores also accused the city’s former mayor of being connected to drug traffickers and ordering the construction of landing strips for them.

Flores started La Prensa five years ago as a weekly and recently began publishing daily. The newspaper has a daily circulation of about 250,000.

Prior to starting La Prensa, he worked as a Tijuana correspondent for La Jornada of Mexico City. He covered the campaign of Gov. Ernesto Ruffo, the nation’s first opposition party governor. In 1989, he worked as Ruffo’s representative.

MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition

Cut in the Spokane edition

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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