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Award-winning Crime Reporter Killed in Mexico

  • VOA News

Evidence identifiers are placed next to the body of journalist Javier Valdez at a crime scene in Culiacan, Mexico, May 15, 2017.

Award-winning reporter Javier Valdez has been shot dead in the north-western state of Sinaloa.

Valdez, who specialized in covering drug trafficking and organized crime, was killed Monday when unidentified attackers opened fire on his car in the city of Culiacan where he was working.

Valdez, 50, received the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2011 for his coverage of drug trafficking. He was a correspondent for a national newspaper, La Jornada, and also co-founded the respected Riodoce publication and authored several books delving into narcotrafficking and organized crime.

FILE - Javier Valdez
FILE - Javier Valdez

Valdez is at least the sixth journalist to be murdered in Mexico since early March.

President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned what he called an "outrageous crime."

"I reiterate our commitment to freedom of expression and the press, fundamental for our democracy," he tweeted.

Journalists targeted in Mexico are most often local reporters in places where the rule of law is tenuous, but there have also been killings of journalists with national profiles such as Valdez and Regina Martinez Perez, who was slain in 2012. The recent spate of slayings includes Miroslava Breach, correspondent for La Jornada in the northern state of Chihuahua, who was gunned down in March.

On Saturday, seven journalists were assaulted and robbed by a mob of about 100 armed men on a highway in the troubled southern state of Guerrero.

Sinaloa 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. Experts say Guzman's arrest last year and extradition in January have led to upheaval in the area as rival factions war for control of the gang.

"Drug trafficking there is a way of life," Valdez said in an October interview with Rompeviento TV. "You have to assume the task that falls to you as a journalist — either that or you play dumb. I don't want to be asked, 'What were you doing in the face of so much death ... why didn't you say what was going on?'"

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