Los Angeles Times
Saltillo, Mexico -- He'd just knocked off work when Valentin Valdes Espinosa, a reporter for the Zocalo of Saltillo newspaper, and two other journalists were intercepted by two trucks full of gunmen late Thursday.
Valdes Espinosa's body, bound, gagged and bearing five bullet holes, was found Friday morning. Tacked to it: a written warning of the kind often left by drug traffickers.
The two reporters with Valdes Espinosa were let go or got away, authorities said.
Valdes Espinosa, 28, is the third journalist slain or kidnapped in Mexico in the last 18 days. On Dec. 22, newspaper publisher Alberto Velasquez, from the resort town of Tulum, was shot to death by gunmen on a motorcycle.
On Dec. 30, veteran crime reporter Jose Luis Romero was seized by masked men in Los Mochis, in the drug-center state of Sinaloa. He's not been seen since. Hours after his disappearance, the lead detective on the case was slain.
Already, Mexico in 2009 had earned the unwanted designation of Latin America's most dangerous country for reporters, and one of the most perilous in the world. That's according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and similar human rights organizations.
The Times has written about the risks Mexican journalists face, especially those who attempt to cover the raging battles between government forces and drug gangs and among the gangs themselves.
The stories included ones focusing on slain journalists Bladimir Antuna and Rodolfo Rincon. Traffickers and other criminals seek to intimidate reporters into silence, and it often works.
Funeral services for Mexican reporter Valentin Valdes Espinosa
Journalist’s body recovered in Mexico
Saltillo, Mexico -- Police on yesterday found the body of one of two recently-abducted Mexican journalists in Saltillo, northern Mexico, their newspaper reported online.
The body of Valentin Valdes Espinosa, a local news reporter, lay outside a motel along with a warning message, in the city in northern Coahuila state, the daily Zocalo Saltillo said on its website, without giving details of the message.
The other journalist, who was not named, was abducted with Valdes on Thursday night, according to the website.
Mexico's north has seen some of the country's worst drug violence, which has left more than 15,000 dead in the past three years.
Brutal, competing drug gangs often send their adversaries grim warnings with written messages, beheadings or dismemberments.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the press, according to international rights groups.
A total of 13 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2009, according to a recent report by the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign.
Mexican Reporter Kidnapped, Tortured, and Executed by Drug Gangs
The newspaper Zócalo Saltillo, Coahuila, announced through its website that its reporter Valentin Valdes Espinosa was executed today after being kidnapped last night with two other Zócalo journalists by unidentified assailants.
Upon completing his shift, at approximately 22:45 hours, Valentin Valdes, began driving his car, with two other reporters, towards Boulevard Venustiano Carranza when a group of unknown individuals, traveling in two trucks, intercepted them.
In that place, the assailants left one of the journalists and forced the other two into a truck. About two hours later the other unidentified reporter was released after being badly beaten, and shortly later the body of Valdes Espinosa was found with a warning sign, whose content has just recently been made public by the General Attorney, on his chest.
The body of Valentín Valdes Espinosa was found bound and gagged with signs of cartel inflicted torture shortly after midnight Friday in front of the Marbella Hotel along with a narco-message stating: This is what happens to those who don’t understand. He had been shot five times.
Valdes Espinosa was one of the founders of Zócalo Saltillo reporters since the newspaper began publishing June 13, 2008. Previously, he had worked for over six years for the newspaper “Word” of Grupo Reforma.
According to authorities, at this time, there is no further information as to the whereabouts of the reporter who accompanied Valdes Espinosa and is still listed as missing, or details of who it is that was spared abduction.
“The murder of Valentín Valdés Espinosa follows an upsurge in violence against the Mexico media that has cost two lives and one disappearance in a three-week period. Mexican journalists find themselves terrorized by this wave of lethal violence that is barring them from reporting the news. We urge the authorities to put an end to this vicious cycle by vigorously investigating Valdés’ slaying and by bringing those responsible to justice.” - Carlos Lauría, Committee to Protect Journalist senior program coordinator for the Americas
Valdes Espinosa, 28, is the third journalist slain or kidnapped in Mexico in the last 18 days. On Dec. 22, newspaper publisher Alberto Velasquez, from the resort town of Tulum, was shot to death by gunmen on a motorcycle. On Dec. 30, veteran crime reporter Jose Luis Romero was seized by masked men in Los Mochis, in the drug-center state of Sinaloa. He’s not been seen since. Hours after his disappearance, the lead detective on the case was slain.