By: Lisa J. Adams, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The editor of a weekly magazine in northern Mexico was gunned down by unknown assailants after filing a report linking an ex-mayor with drug traffickers, an international journalists’ group said Wednesday.
Felix Alonso Fernandez Garcia, editor of the weekly magazine Nueva Opcion, or New Option, was shot and killed last Friday as he got into his car in the border city of Miguel Aleman in the northern state of Tamaulipas, state law enforcement officials said.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, said the editor had recently written a story denouncing the alleged connection between Miguel Aleman’s former mayor, Raul Rodriguez Barrera, and drug traffickers.
Editors at Nueva Opcion could not be reached to comment on Fernandez’s story Wednesday. Rodriguez’s listed telephone number was out of service and he couldn’t be contacted.
Reporters Without Borders, which monitors press freedoms, asked Interior Secretary Santiago Creel in a letter to “use all means at his disposal to identify and punish those responsible” for Fernandez’s death.
Just days before his death, Fernandez filed a complaint with police alleging that the ex-mayor wanted to kill him, according to the letter. Reporters Without Borders faxed the letter from Paris to The Associated Press’ Mexico City office.
“This killing is evidence of the difficult situation journalists are in in this part of the country, where they clash with drug traffickers,” the organization’s secretary-general, Robert Menard, said.
Francisco Cayuela Villareal, head of the Tamaulipas state prosecutor’s office, said there were suspicions surrounding the victim and that he may have been killed by drug dealers out for revenge.
Villareal said officers had found 1.2 ounces of cocaine in Fernandez’s car, “an amount that would be too much for immediate consumption, but that would be for sale.”
He also said that it was suspicious that Fernandez had two bodyguards.
“No journalist, regardless of how important he is, would be in a financial condition to pay the services of bodyguards, who charge some 20,000 to 25,000 pesos ($2,700),” the government news agency Notimex quoted the state prosecutor as saying.
Villareal also said that one of the bodyguards has a criminal record including homicide and drug trafficking and that there is an arrest warrant pending against him. He did not elaborate.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it hadn’t fully investigated Fernandez’s killing, but noted that Mexican authorities often attack the character of victims in high-profile crimes.
“Rumors are often planted by authorities or others to destroy the credibility of the victim and distract attention from the killing,” said Marylene Smeetz, head of the group’s Americas program.