MEXICO CITY (AP) — Javier Valdez, a veteran reporter who specialized in covering drug trafficking and organized crime, was slain Monday in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa, the latest in a wave of journalist killings in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers.
Valdez is the fifth journalist to be murdered in Mexico in just over two months, and the second high-profile reporter to be slain in the country this decade after Regina Martinez Perez, who was killed in 2012.
A Sinaloa state government official said Valdez was shot dead in the early afternoon in the state capital, Culiacan, near the offices of the publication he co-founded, Riodoce. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Riodoce confirmed Valdez’s killing on its webpage, saying he was driving about a block from its offices when he was intercepted by gunmen.
He was also a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada, which reported that he was pulled from his car and shot multiple times.
Valdez was a nationally and internationally recognized journalist who authored several books on the drug trade, including “Narcoperiodismo” and “Los Morros del Narco.” The latter chronicled the lives of young people swept up in Mexico’s underworld.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2009 unknown attackers threw a grenade into the Riodoce offices days after it had published an investigation on drug trafficking. No one was hurt.
“Living in Sinaloa is a threat, and being a journalist is an additional threat,” Valdez said in an interview with the CPJ, according the group’s website. “We learned how to live in times when bullets are flying around us.”
Sinaloa state has long been a drug trafficking hotbed and is home to the Sinaloa Cartel headed by notorious kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is in a New York prison awaiting trial on multiple charges.
By the CPJ’s count, 40 journalists have been killed in Mexico for reasons confirmed as related to their work since 1992. An additional 50 were slain during the same period under circumstances that have not been clarified.
Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Mexico City contributed to this report.
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