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Journalist shot dead at radio station's offices in Chihuahua

(CEPET/IFEX) - Norberto Miranda Madrid, director of the online media outlet Radio Visión and author of a well-known column, was shot to death in the offices of the station where he worked, on the night of 23 September 2009, in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, northern Mexico.

Information from the state's deputy attorney general shows that the murder happened around 8:30 p.m. inside the Radio Visión facilities, which are located at the intersection of Galena and Benito Juárez in the city centre. Miranda Madrid had been shot several times, including in the back of the neck.

According to local media, a group of at least five men carrying assault rifles and guns forced their way into the Radio Visión offices and shot the journalist in front of his colleagues. It is unknown whether there were other injuries.

Miranda Madrid's colleagues told CEPET that he had been handling information on public safety and criminal groups in the region that are involved in the drug trade to the United States. He hosted an online radio programme and wrote a column called "Cotorreando con El Gallito" (Chatting with El Gallito). In his last publication, he had referred to the wave of violence in the region and the growing number of killings, which were presumably connected to the conflict between rival groups of drug traffickers.

Local journalists who had worked with Miranda Madrid, and who wished to remain anonymous, said he told them that he had been harassed after reporting on the 4 September capture of three important leaders of La Línea, the armed branch of the Juárez drug cartel. One of those captured was Rodolfo Escajeda, alias "El Rikín", a criminal who is wanted by the US anti-drug agency.

Escajeda was also responsible for the kidnapping and killing of Benjamín Le Barón and Luis Carlos Whitman, Mormon leaders in the community of Le Barón in Galeana, close to Nuevo Casas Grandes.

Violence in the state of Chihuahua is rampant because of the coexistence of various drug cartels. Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a reportero for "El Diario", was killed in November 2008 and several other journalists have had to leave the country after receiving death threats.
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