Mexico: Kidnapped Reporter Found Dead

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The tortured body of a journalist has been found by the roadside in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.

Marco Antonio Ávila García, 39, had been kidnapped by three masked gang members at a car wash in Ciudad Obregon on Thursday.

The naked corpse was dumped in a black sack, near the city of Empalme, 68 miles from where he was abducted. According to the state attorney’s spokesman, the body showed signs of torture.

The spokesman for Sonora’s state prosecutors, José Larringa, said that a message, signed by a drug cartel, has been found next to the body. Its contents have not yet been released to the public.

Ávila was a reporter for El Regional of Ciudad Obregon and Diario de Sonora where he frequently covered stories on organised crime. He was married with three small children.

Ávila is the latest victim amidst a deadly drugs war that has claimed the life of 81 journalists in the last decade, according to Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights.

The Latin American Federation of Journalists has raised that number to 92. Fifteen journalists have are been reported as still missing.

The incident comes after Rene Orta Salgado, a journalist for El Sol de Cuernavaca newspaper, was found dead inside his car boot last Sunday. The mutilated bodies of three photojournalists were also found in a canal in Verazcruz earlier this month.

Journalists at El Mañana and Hora Cero in the state of Tamaulipas, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, were the target of armed attacks last week. The incident did not result in any casualties. However, El Mañana has announced that it will stop publishing news on organised crime in an attempt to staunch attacks on its reporters, a decision that Hora Cero had already taken some time ago. Roberto Mora García, the editor of El Mañana, was assassinated in 2004.

According to Javier Garza, deputy editor of the Mexican daily El Siglo de Torreón, “impunity is the oxygen for attacks against the press and the engine of those who seek to silence the media,”

Ricardo Gonzalez, who represents press freedom activist group Article 19, has said that there had been “absolutely no advances” in the investigation of previous murders of journalists.

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries for reporters since the administration of President Felipe Calderón launched an offensive against drug cartels in December 2006.

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