By Tim Johnson | McClatchy Newspapers
A Mexican crime reporter said to have been looking into the recent execution slaying of her editor was found dead Tuesday.
The body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was dumped on a street in the city of Veracruz on Mexico's eastern coast, two days after she was kidnapped by unknown assailants, according to the newspaper, Notiver. Several other news sites, citing an anonymous police source, said she had been beheaded.
Her killing seemed to consolidate Mexico's status as the most dangerous place in the Americas to work as a journalist, although a swirl of contradictory information surrounded the death.
Ordaz de la Cruz worked as a police reporter at Notiver, the largest-circulation newspaper in Veracruz, a bustling port on the Gulf of Mexico where violence has surged between powerful crime gangs battling over narcotics trafficking, extortion and migrant smuggling.
The newspaper was still shaken by the events of June 20, when gunmen smashed down the door to the home of deputy editor Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco and killed him, his wife and his son. Lopez Velasco wrote a column in Notiver that often touched on Mexico's criminal underworld.
Mexico's main newsmagazine, Proceso, reported on its website that colleagues of Ordaz de la Cruz said that she was looking into motives in the slaying of her editor at the time of her own death and that she'd received anonymous telephoned threats.
But the top prosecutor in the state of Veracruz, Reynaldo Escobar Perez, said in a news conference that while Ordaz de la Cruz may have fallen into the crosshairs of organized crime, her slaying was not related to her profession. He did not expand on the statement and refused to take questions.
An operator at the newspaper offices said no one was available to provide further information.
The local e-consulta.com website said a message was left next to Ordaz de la Cruz's body that said, "Friends also betray, sincerely Carranza."
The message appeared to link her killing to the earlier slaying of her editor.
Three days after her editor's killing, authorities announced that the culprit was Juan Carlos Carranza, alias "El Naca," who they described as a 33-year-old criminal wanted for robbery and murder. They offered a $260,000 reward for his capture, but Carranza has yet to be taken into custody.
The bodies of five journalists have been found in June and July in Mexico. In addition to the two slain from Notiver, they include a journalist from a small Veracruz town, another from the state of Sonora in northern Mexico and one from Guerrero state on Mexico's Pacific coast.
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission says 68 journalists were slain between the year 2000 and March of this year, although press freedom groups note that some of the killings may not be related to their profession.
The Sonoran journalist, Pablo Ruelas Barraza, who was shot six times June 13, was reported to have served prison time for small-scale drug trafficking.