Suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel kidnapped and killed a reporter who covered the crime beat in Mexico's eastern region, local authorities said on Thursday. It is the fourth murder of a journalist in the region in just two months.
Víctor Manuel Báez Chino, a reporter working for the national newspaper Milenio, was kidnapped by three armed men at around 11:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday evening in Xalapa, the state capital of Veracruz. He was found dead hours later on Ursulo Galvan street, not far from the city's main plaza.
The state's attorney-general office condemned the murder and said the killers had left a written message on Báez Chino's body. "This is what happens to those who betray us and think they can outsmart us. Sincerely, Los Zetas," the message said, claiming the murder was carried out by a drug cartel which has carried out numerous violent acts throughout the region since separating from the Gulf Cartel in March 2010.
"We are outraged by the murder of Víctor Manuel Báez Chino and the unrelenting deadly violence against the press in Mexico, and particularly in the state of Veracruz," said Joel Simon, Executive Director in New York at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "It is appalling that nearly all of these crimes are carried out with complete impunity. Mexican authorities must end this crisis, bring journalist killers to justice, and ensure that journalists can carry out their work without fearing for their lives."
In May 2008, Báez Chino filed a complaint in which he alleged that he had been beaten by police while covering the violent removal of public bus drivers in Veracruz. He claimed to have been beaten and several of his belongings were taken away, including his camera, cell phone and papers. Recordings he made of the incident were erased.
At least seven journalists and one former journalist, all of whom covered the police beat or politics, have been killed in unclear circumstances in Veracruz over the past year, according to CPJ. There have been no arrests in any of the cases in a state which is the main battleground for the Zetas and Sinaloa cartels.