Mexican Journalists Kidnapped as Drug Cartels Threaten Freedom of Speech

Mexican gang members took at least three journalists hostage this week in Durango state after the reporters investigated alleged links between prison officials and drug groups, the state attorney general’s office said.


July 29, 2010

By Jonathan J. Levin

The kidnappers haven’t yet demanded a payoff, said Ruben Lopez, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, in a telephone interview. Officials are seeking to confirm whether a fourth missing reporter is among the group, he said.

The kidnappings show Mexico’s drug cartels are growing increasingly violent and forcing members of the media to practice “self censorship” for their own safety, according to Carlos Lauria, a spokesman for the Americas division of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

“This is yet another indication of the deep crisis that Mexico is going through in terms of freedom of expression,” he said today in a telephone interview from New York.

The three confirmed victims include two cameramen from television station Televisa, according to Lopez. Televisa spokesman Miguel Angel Zapata declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News by telephone.

Police found the vehicle of a third victim abandoned and charred from a fire, the spokesman said.

Mexico has reported almost 25,000 deaths related to organized crime since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. The government estimates violence shaves one percentage point from gross domestic product each year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan J. Levin in Mexico City at