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Javier Valdez’s slaying adds to a violent year for Mexican journalists

Javier Valdez, an well-known journalist who covered Mexico's organized crime and drug trafficking, was shot dead on May 15 in Culiacan, a city in Sinaloa.

Javier Valdez, an well-known journalist who covered Mexico’s organized crime and drug trafficking, was shot dead on May 15 in Culiacan, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

He is at least the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico in the last two months.

Valdez co-founded Ríodoce, a weekly newspaper that focused on crime in Sinaloa. The state is also where the Sinaloa cartel, once led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, originated.

Valdez was awarded the International Press Freedom Award in 2011 for his work.

‘One of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists’

The Committee to Protect Journalists says that 40 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for motives confirmed to be related to their work. Motive is not confirmed in the cases of another 50 killed in that time.

In a report released earlier this month, CPJ noted that almost all killings of journalists in Mexico go unpunished. CPJ also criticized Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto for failing to crack down on the violence, despite his public condemnations of the attacks.

A violent year so far

At least four other journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, three of them for reasons connected to their work:

  • Maximino Rodríguez was gunned down on April 14 outside a store in La Paz, a city in Baja California Sur state. Rodríguez reported on crime for the news blog Colectivo Pericú. He was a veteran journalist who had come out of retirement to work on his beat.
  • Miroslava Breach was shot eight times on March 23 as she left her home in the capital city of Chihuahua state. Breach was a longtime crime and politics correspondent for La Jornada, a national newspaper. She also reported for Norte, a news site that announced it was shutting down after her death. A note found at the scene of the crime read: “For being a snitch.”
  • Ricardo Monlui was shot by gunmen on a motorcycle on March 19 in Yanga, located in the state of Veracruz. Monlui was the editorial director of El Politico newspaper and wrote a regular column for other papers. He largely wrote about the sugar cane industry. A colleague of Monlui’s told CPJ he wasn’t aware of any threats that Monlui had received. CPJ is still investigating whether his death is related to his work as a journalist.
  • Cecilio Pinedo was shot by at least two gunmen on March 2 in Cuidad Altamirano in Guerrero state. Pinedo was a freelancer and contributed to several publications, covering crime and corruption. In September 2015, a gunman shot at him outside his home but missed.

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