MEXICO CITY — Assailants on Tuesday gunned down the mother, aunt and siblings of a special forces sailor killed in a raid that took out one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartel leaders. The slayings came just hours after the navy honored Ensign Melquisedet Angulo Cordova as a national hero at a memorial service.
Federal officials had warned that last week's killing of drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, known as the "boss of bosses," could provoke a violent backlash from smugglers.
Beltran Leyva was among the most-wanted drug lords in Mexico and the United States, and was the biggest trafficker taken down by President Felipe Calderon's administration so far. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials blamed his cartel for much of the bloodshed across Mexico.
The family was attacked at their home just hours after Irma Cordova, 55, attended her son's memorial service in Mexico City, where she received the Mexican flag covering his coffin. His brother, Benito Cordova, 28, his sister, Jolidabey Cordova, 22, and aunt, Josefa Angulo, 46, also were killed shortly after midnight by gunmen wielding assault rifles. His sister, Miraldeyi Cordova, 24, was reported in serious condition at a hospital.
"The message is very clear: It's to intimidate not only the government but its flesh and blood," said Jorge Chabat, a Mexican expert on drug cartels. "It's to intimidate those in the armed forces so they fear not only for their own lives, but the lives of their families."