A newspaper photographer in the drug cartel-dominated Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez has been found shot to death, prosecutors said Thursday.
The body of news photographer Ismael Villagómez was found in the driver’s seat of a car shortly after midnight Thursday in Ciudad Juárez, a violence-plagued city across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Villagómez’s newspaper Heraldo de Juarez reported that he was found dead in a car he had registered to use for work on a ride-hailing app. Given the low wages, it is not uncommon for journalists in Mexico to hold down more than one job. The newspaper reported that his phone was not found at the scene.
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Ciudad Juárez has been dominated by drug cartels and their turf wars for nearly two decades, and the gangs often object to the publication of photos of their victims or their activities.
Carlos Manuel Salas, a prosecutor in the northern border state of Chihuahua, said authorities were investigating whether Villagomez had a fare at the time or whether the killing was related to his work as a photographer.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has issued an urgent appeal to the authorities to investigate the murder.
His death was the fifth murder of a journalist in Mexico so far in 2023.
In September, Jesús Gutiérrez, a journalist who ran a community news page on Facebook, was killed in the northern Mexican border town of San Luis Rio Colorado when he was apparently caught in the crossfire of an attack on police.
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Prosecutors in the northern border state of Sonora said Gutierrez was talking to the officers, who were his neighbors, when they were hit by a hail of gunfire, killing one officer and wounding three others. They said Gutierrez’s death was “collateral” to the attack on police.
At least three other journalists have been killed so far this year in Mexico, which has become one of the deadliest places in the world for journalists outside of a war zone.
In the past five years alone, the Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the murders of at least 52 journalists in Mexico.
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Last year was the deadliest in recent memory for Mexican journalists, with 15 deaths. That year, Mexico was one of the deadliest places in the world for journalists, second only to Ukraine.