Journalist Javier Valdez shot to death in Mexico drug state

Journalist Javier Valdez shot to death in Mexico drug state

Valdez was the fifth journalist killed this year in a country plagued by drug violence and corruption, according to officials and media rights groups.

Javier Valdez was killed when assailants opened fire on his auto in the state capital, Culiacan, according to RioDoce, the media outlet he co-founded and where he worked.

He was also a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada, which reported that he was pulled from his vehicle and shot multiple times.

The CPJ awarded Valdez its International Press Freedom Award in 2011 for his prolific coverage of drug trafficking and organised crime.

Mexico is one of the most risky places to be a journalist, with the vast majority of attacks on the press unpunished.

The news of Valdez's slaying shook Mexican journalists who have already been alarmed by a spike in attacks against the press this year.

Police later found his vehicle abandoned a few streets away, where it had been left by the gunman, according to the state prosecutor, Juan Jose Rios. "We condemn the Culiacán killing of Javier Valdez, Riodoce director, exemplary journalist, integral man, committed to his country", he wrote.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned the slaying in a tweet, and expressed condolences to Cárdenas' family.

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The cartel is believed to be responsible for an estimated 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the USA via Mexico.

Valdez belonged to a rare breed of Mexican reporters who refuse to be silenced through bribes or threats of violence.

Images in Mexican media showed a body lying in a street covered by a blue blanket and surrounded by 12 yellow markers of the kind typically used to flag evidence such as bullet casings. The latter chronicled the lives of young people swept up in Mexico's underworld.

At the time, the CPJ said 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992.

"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. "It's also home to the Sinaloa cartel, which until recently was headed by Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman" - the infamous drug lord who, after a high-profile escape and recapture, has been extradited to the US and is awaiting trial.

"By not establishing a clear link to journalism or providing any motives for the killings most investigations remain opaque", the report said.

Last Wednesday, the federal Attorney General's Office replaced the head of its division responsible for investigating journalist killings.

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