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JOURNALISTS TARGETED BY DRUG TRAFFICKERS

In Mexico, journalists risk grave danger in covering drug trafficking. In 2004, two journalists were murdered in the cities of Tijuana and Matamoros because of their work. In the past two weeks, an editor was gunned down, a crime reporter narrowly survived an assassination attempt and a correspondent specialising in drug trafficking went missing, reported IFEX members.

The attacks prompted the Institute for Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to call for immediate investigations.

On the evening of 8 April 2005, Raúl Gibb Guerrero was shot and killed by four unidentified gunmen as he drove home to Papantla in the eastern state of Veracruz. Earlier that night, Gibb Guerrero was in the city of Martínez de la Torre, where a new edition of his newspaper "La Opinión" was being launched. He had received anonymous death threats days before the attack. Authorities believe Gibb Guerrero was murdered for writing articles about the Gulf Cartel, a powerful drug gang.

On 5 April, armed assailants shot Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla in front of the radio station where she worked in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo. García Escamilla was struck by nine bullets but survived the attack. She hosts the program "Punto Rojo" ("Red Point") for private radio station Stereo 91.

Shortly before the attack, the station had aired a report by García Escamilla on the killing of a local lawyer who reportedly represented alleged drug traffickers. Nuevo Laredo, a city of 500,000 in the state of Tamaulipas, is experiencing a wave of violence related to drug trafficking. More than 30 people have been killed so far this year, says CPJ.

Meanwhile, in the northwestern state of Sonora, reporter Alfredo Jiménez Mota has not been seen since 2 April when he informed a colleague at the newspaper "El Imparcial" that he was meeting a source. Jiménez Mota specialises in covering drug trafficking and crime. He had recently reported on alleged plans by drug gangs to assassinate local government officials.

IAPA has urged the federal authorities to step in more aggressively to investigate the attacks and bring the guilty to justice.

Visit these links:

- Attack on García Escamilla: http://www.cpj.org/news/2005/Mexico06apr05na.html
- Murder of Gibb Guerrero: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13175
- CPJ Report on Mexico: http://www.cpj.org/attacks04/americas04/mexico.html
- IAPA: http://www.sipiapa.org/pressreleases/chronologicaldetail.cfm?PressReleaseID=1367
- IAPA Report on Mexico: http://www.sipiapa.org/pulications/report_mexico2005.cfm
- Impunity Campaign:
http://www.impunidad.com/
- IPYS:
http://www.ipys.org/
- Time Magazine on Drug Traffickers who Spread Fear along US-Mexico Border: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1047433,00.html
(Image courtesy of RSF)

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