Alleged Mexican gang member says cartel ordered 2004 journalist killing

The killing of journalist Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, editor general of Zeta weekly, was allegedly ordered by Javier Arellano Félix, then leader of the Tijuana Cartel, the gang that controls the drug trade between the Mexican border city of the same name and the United States, the Committee Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports.

According to the CPJ, Luis Alberto Salazar, a suspected enforcer for the cartel was arrested by the Mexican army this year and submitted a statement claiming Arellano Félix ordered the 2004 killing to punish Ortiz for publishing photos of cartel members.

“Javier Arellano Félix personally ordered them to kill the journalist because he was publishing photos of…cartel members,” said Salazar, quoted by Zeta.

Zeta has long been subject to violence and threats from criminal groups for engaging in investigative journalism on drug trafficking issues. Cofounder Héctor Félix Miranda was killed in 1988, and 11 years later, in 1997, editor Jesús Blancornelas survived an attack that killed his bodyguard.

Arellano Félix is currently serving a life sentence in the United States, however the CPJ says this confession could provide “Mexican prosecutors with an opportunity to break the cycle of impunity.”

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Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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