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Journalist kidnapped by armed individuals in Sinaloa

(CEPET/IFEX) - On the afternoon of 30 December 2009, José Luis Romero, a police beat reporter for the radio news programme "Línea Directa" aired on Radio Sistema del Noroeste, was kidnapped by armed individuals in the city of Los Mochis, in Sinaloa state, northwestern Mexico. His whereabouts are unknown.

According to information disseminated by local media outlets, at the time of his kidnapping the journalist was in the Jiquilpan II neighbourhood of Los Mochis having a meal with an unidentified person. At least four armed individuals, in uniforms and with their faces covered, arrived in a Ford Explorer and took Romero with them.

In a message posted on the "Línea Directa" web page, the radio programme's staff and managers spoke out against the level of violence that exists in the region and condemned the kidnapping, while calling on the authorities to carry out the necessary actions to rescue Romero. They noted that Romero, who has been working for the radio station for more than a decade, worked on a risky beat and that, although he was on vacation at the time of his abduction, they believe his kidnapping is related to his journalism work.

Six hours after Romero was kidnapped, the officer in charge of the investigation into his case, Jesús Escalante Leyva, was shot to death as he was returning to his office. Escalante Leyva was the head of the state Ministerial Police's investigations unit in the northern region. Sinaloa's attorney general, Alfredo Higuera Bernal, did not dismiss the possibility of a link between the assassination of Leyva and Romero's kidnapping.
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