Media rights activists expressed concern on Wednesday about three Mexican journalists who were kidnapped two weeks ago in an area controlled by drug dealers. Jesus Pintor Alegre, Fernando Moreno Villegas and Alan Garcia Aguilar, who worked for the Escenario Calentano news service, went missing on December 27 in the state of Guerrero.
in video published by unknown persons on social media, two missing journalists appear shackled hand and foot. One journalist says they are “bearing the consequences” for their relationships in the brutal southern region.
The area where the journalists disappeared is “very difficult, very complex, controlled almost 100 percent by the Familia Michoacana drug cartel,” Reporters Without Borders (RFS) representative Balbina Flores told AFP.
The RSF, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Article 19 rights group jointly appealed to the authorities to “find journalists immediately” as well as to provide protection to relatives and other media workers in the area.
The Guerrero State Commission on Human Rights as well issued a statement requesting the authorities to launch an investigation.
Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous places to work for a journalist in the world. More than 150 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000, according to the RSF.
Last month, one of the country’s most prominent TV presenters said he had survived an apparent assassination attempt in Mexico City. Ciro Gomez Leyva he said that two people on a motorcycle shot at him while he was traveling in his armored vehicle, but he was unharmed.
Police Chief Omar Garcia Harfuch said 11 people had been arrested in connection with the attack on the journalist’s vehicle.
Officials said the little-known gang behind the attack was involved in murders, extortion of money from businessmen and street drug dealing in the eastern part of the city. Authorities have not explained why they believe such a small gang was trying to kill one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists.
Gómez Leyva escaped shaken but unscathed – he was saved by a bulletproof SUV.
During the raids and searches that led to the arrests, police found a hat with the letters CJNG, the initials of the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation cartel, but Garcia Harfuch said that didn’t necessarily mean the cartel was involved.
“It’s very common in Mexico City for criminal gangs to use names – Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco Cartel – just to give them an affiliation, without meaning they’re part of” the cartels, he said. “As with other arrests and searches, they have the initials of any number of cartels.”
The top lieutenant of the Jalisco cartel threatened another journalist in early 2022, which has been the deadliest year for Mexican journalists and media workers in at least three decades, that. Reporters Without Borders said that at least 10 journalists were killed because of their work.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.