The mother of two young children, including a newborn, was pulled from her bed in the middle of the night by uniformed men on Feb. 8, 2016, and found dead the next day, bound and dumped alongside a highway. She had been tortured. Flores was a free-lance crime reporter in the city of Orizaba after being let go from her newspaper, El Buen Tono, in 2014. Photo: Proceso
The radio host for Ke Buena in Tezonapa, Veracruz, was abducted coming out of a store May 3, 2015, and found the next day across the state line in Oaxaca, shot execution style and bearing signs of torture. Two people have been detained. The Oaxaca prosecutor said the suspects knew Saldana and the motive was robbery, though he said he didn’t have details on what they took. Photo Reporters Without Borders
Huge, Luna and Rodriguez, crime photographers for various Veracruz newspapers, were found hacked in pieces in black garbage bags in a sewage canal in Boca del Rio May 3, 2012, a day after disappearing. It was only five days after the killing of another Veracruz journalist, Regina Martinez.
A crime reporter and photographer for the newspapers Notisur and Liberal de Sur in southern Veracruz, Jimenez was kidnapped outside of his home on Feb. 5, 2014, in front of his two daughters by a team of men with assault weapons. His remains were found six days later in an unmarked grave with other bodies. He had been decapitated alive. Photos: Juan Pablo Romo
Taxi driver and director for the news website “Reporting the Truth”, Mendoza was found dead July 2, 2015.
Torres was walking down the street in the middle of day May 14, 2016, in the city of Poza Rica when a man approached him and shot him point blank in the head. Torres, a former reporter for TV Azteca, was editor in chief of the news website NoticiasMT and also worked for a city councilman. The Veracruz government initially denied he was a journalist. The case is a mystery.
Professional-style commandos used a battering ram to break down Lopez’s door early in the morning of June 20, 2011, and assassinated him, his wife and son as they slept. Photos: Reporters Without Borders
It was the most unusual of the journalist killings, the only attack on a journalist done in police or military style and that included the journalist’s family. Some speculate it was a personal vendetta. Some say it was the government, which didn’t like Lopez’s columns about the growing drug violence in Veracruz. Photos: Reporters Without Borders
At least 12 men with assault weapons kidnapped Sanchez, a taxi driver who published his own community newspaper, from his home in front of his wife and young grandsons on Jan. 2, 2015. His remains were found 22 days later in three garbage bags on an abandoned dirt road. He had been decapitated alive.
Lopez, who wrote for La Verdad de Jaltipan and other publications, was kidnapped by gunmen March 8, 2011, on his way to covering a story and found in a mass grave three months later. Wanted police killer Alejandro Castro Chirinos, “El Dragon,” confessed to murdering Lopez and led authorities to his grave, but news accounts did not give a motive. Lopez was known as an activist as well as a journalist, and openly criticized and denounced abuses by corrupt authorities and drug traffickers. Photo credit: Reporters Without Borders
Rojas was lured from his home on Aug. 11, 2014, by someone pretending to buy his car and was shot several times outside on the sidewalk. Rojas lived on the border of Veracruz and Oaxaca states and worked in communications for the local municipality in Oaxaca. But he also was a reporter for the newspaper El Buen Tono in Veracruz. The day before he died, the newspaper published his story linking a local Oaxaca police chief to a band of petroleum thieves. Photo: Reporters Without Borders
Tamayo, correspondent for two online newspapers, was shot to death outside his home in Tierra Blanca July 20, 2016, while he was under protection of state authorities for a previous threat. His family says the state police allowed the assailant to run and blocked the ambulance, which didn’t arrive for half an hour, allowing Tamayo to bleed to death. Photos: Jonathan Levinson
Correspondent for the national investigative magazine, Proceso, Martinez was found beaten and strangled to death in her home on April 28, 2012. She had written extensively about government corruption and social uprisings and was considered one of the most independent, professional and untouchable reporters in Veracruz. Photos: Proceso
Freelance photojournalist Ruben Espinosa was bound and killed execution style in an apartment in Mexico City on July 31, 2015 with four women, including Nadia Vera, a friend and activist from Veracruz. He had fled Veracruz that June after being followed by men waiting outside his apartment. He had been harassed during his time as a photographer in Veracruz and filed a federal complaint in 2013.
Baez Chino, director of the newspaper Reporteros Policiales, was kidnapped by four heavily armed men on June 13, 2012, and found several hours later tortured and dismembered on a Xalapa street. Along with his remains was a fluorescent sign. The note said, “This is what happens to traitors and those who act smart. Sincerely, the Zetas.” He had told his reporters to take vacation because of a list circulating with the names of reporters who were under threat. Photos: Proceso, Reporters Without Borders
Ordaz, a crime reporter for Notiver in Veracruz, was kidnapped July 24, 2011, as she was going to her daughter’s graduation party. She was found two days later decapitated behind the offices of the newspaper Imagen del Golfo in Boca del Rio, with a message: “Even friends betray.” The message was signed by “Carranza,” who investigators said was Jose Carlos Carranza, an ex-transit officer working for Jalisco New Generation. He was also named a suspect in the killing a month earlier of Ordaz’s friend and editor, Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco. Photo credits: Reporters Without Borders
Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, 57, was shot to death by two men riding by on a motorcycle as he left a restaurant March 19, 2017, in Yanga. Monlui, who lived in Cordoba, was director of the newspaper El Politico and regularly wrote columns for two other newspapers. He also was a spokesman for the National Union of Sugar Cane Producers. Photo Facebook
Government officials said immediately they were investigating her ties to a drug trafficker, then changed their story. They announced the arrest of her assassin in May 2016 and said that Flores was killed for stories she had written, though authorities never said what stories or why. They also never addressed what happened to the other suspects. Photo:Blog Expediente
Few people believe the official version. Skeptics of the investigation say Saldana was outspoken and critical of powerful politicians on his radio program, and he was killed during the 2015 federal congressional campaign. They note that robbery victims normally aren’t tortured to the extent Saldana was. Photo Reporters Without Borders
Huge and Luna left Veracruz for a time in 2011, and Rodriguez changed professions after two of their colleagues at the newspaper Notiver were murdered within months of each other. Huge had told his father earlier that he was having problems with organized crime. Rodriguez had received threats.
State investigators immediately called the case a personal dispute stemming from a neighbor who had threatened to have Jimenez killed while she was fighting with his daughter. The neighbor and some of the men who abducted him are in custody. Photos: Juan Pablo Romo
Authorities said the hit on Lopez, columnist and assistant director in charge of crime coverage was organized by Jose Carlos Carranza, a former transit officer and one-time friend of Lopez who was a member of the Zetas cartel and later switched sides to the rival Jalisco New Generation. Carranza was killed in a shootout in Jalisco, and Veracruz authorities have considered the case closed. They never tried to find or prosecute the gunmen. Photos: Reporters Without Borders
Lopez, photographer for Notiver and son of Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco, died in an professional-style ambush June 20, 2011, with his parents as he slept. Authorities said the target of the hit was his father, but included his family members to send a strong message. Photo: Reporters Without Borders
Government officials first said Sanchez wasn’t a journalist, just a taxi driver, even though his online newspaper, La Union, had reported on a spike in cartel-related crime, that police were detaining and torturing people for extortions and on general government malfeasance. Family and others believe his article on and involvement in a vigilante group that formed to patrol the streets and protect citizens from the police was the trigger for his murder.
Tamayo was considered the most knowledgeable reporter in a dangerous area of the state rife with land and cartel disputes. He had fled to Tijuana with his family earlier in the year after a man he was collaborating with to start a newspaper was arrested as a suspected cartel leader, and Tamayo’s wife received a message to tell her husband to “back off” his reporting. Photos: Jonathan Levinson
Her death rattled the whole country’s journalism community, which assumed she had been assassinated for her work. It was the first killing of a national correspondent, who were considered among journalists more protected by their publications and off limits to criminals and corrupt officials. Photos: Proceso
Two days after his death, leaders of journalism advocacy groups met with the city’s top prosecutor, who before the investigation even started told them the killings had nothing to do with Espinosa’s work as a journalist.
Authorities concluded that Baez Chino was involved in organized crime, but his friends insist they have no knowledge of that. Some think he was a victim of mistaken identity, or just a message to all reporters because his body was dumped near the newspaper Diario de Xalapa. Authorities say his killers died in a shootout a week after his murder, but the case remains a mystery. Photos: Proceso, Reporters Without Borders
The state prosecutor at the time said Ordaz was involved with drug traffickers, and some colleagues said she gave orders to other reporters on what to publish. But there was no investigation, no proof and the case remains a mystery. Photo credits: Reporters Without Borders
His most recent columns were on politics and the sugar cane industry. Authorities have no arrests or motive for the killing, but say they have not discarded his work as a possible reason. Photo Facebook
The owner of El Buen Tono, Jose Abella, said she was fired for working for a drug cartel and handing out money to reporters in return for not publishing information. Some colleagues have risen to defend her and refute Abella, but no one has provided proof either way. Her family has declined interviews for this project. Photo: Quadratin
There is no current investigation into their murders. Authorities made several arrests the following August, one man who was carrying the identification card of one of the victims, and others from the Cartel Jalisco New Generation who authorities said confessed to the killings. Photo: Proceso
Jimenez had little training but was an innate reporter who published what he knew, and he exposed powerful people as having connections with the Zetas. The neighbor, who ran a bar frequented by Zetas, had threatened him for writing about a fight in her bar. He also reported that another woman, a prominent restaurateur, owned a house where Zetas were holding and torturing kidnapped migrants. She threatened to sue his newspaper but never did. Photos: Juan Pablo Romo
A man arrested by police confessed to killing Sanchez on orders of the body guard of the mayor. The mayor is a fugitive in the case. The bodyguard was arrested and later let go for lack of evidence, undermining the state’s explanation of what happened.
But they returned a month later as it was difficult to find work and live so far from home. Since March they had special patrols coming by the house two times a day. The family had refused a state offer of body guards and security cameras, saying that would make them more conspicuous and bigger targets. Photos: Jonathan Levinson
Investigators never looked at her work, instead focusing exclusively on her friends and personal relationships, concluding that she was killed by a male prostitute and street criminal she had been dating so he could rob her. That suspect is a fugitive. Authorities arrested and convicted his accomplice, who they say was in her house that night. Photos: Proceso
Authorities leaked information to news outlets indicating the women were the targets and they had been sexually assaulted. But forensic evidence proved they hadn’t been. Only the cellphones of Espinosa and Vera were taken.
The confessors were never charged with the murders. State authorities said the killings were crimes for the federal prosecutor. The federal prosecutor says there are no leads in the case. Photo: Yahir Ceballos
Authorities consider this case resolved, even though no one has been convicted and the main suspect, the neighbor, said she was tortured into confessing and has filed motions to be released from jail. Photos: Juan Pablo Romo
Snachez son, Jorge says authorities ignored many lines of investigation, including the role of the local police commander, who waited two hours to start an operation to locate Sanchez. A composite sketch of one of the killers was never distributed, photos of the suspects were lost and investigators never asked for surveillance video in the area the night Sanchez disappeared. Sanchez had received information from a friend that Gov. Javier Duarte had asked the mayor why he couldn’t keep Sanchez quiet.
Police have no suspects, arrests or motive in the case. Photos: Jonathan Levinson
No one believes the official story. Martinez was very careful, knowing the impact of her work, which angered several governors and elected officials. She kept a tight circle of trusted friends and rarely socialized. The accomplice said he confessed after being kidnapped and held several days by police investigators who threatened to kill him and his mother if he didn’t admit to the crime. Photos: Proceso
They focused on robbery as the motive, saying jewelry and clothing were stolen, then drugs became the motive. Investigators said the assailants came to steal a suitcase full of cocaine from one of the women, a Colombian national, who authorities say was the target of the attack.
After several arrests, only one person remains in custody but has not been tried. The state of Veracruz lists the Moises Sanchez case as resolved.
Of three men detained in the case, two give very different versions of the events and one has refused to give a statement. Investigators never looked into threats against Espinosa and Vera as part of the investigation. Vera, too had fled Veracruz to Mexico City because of harassment.
No Justice in Veracruz
Veracruz journalists killed between 2010 and 2017