Drug cartel orders attack against Mexican weekly Zeta, according to local authorities

Authorities informed Mexican weekly Zeta that a criminal group has ordered an attack on the publication after it published photos of alleged organized crime members on the cover of its Nov. 25 issue, according to Zeta.

Zeta reported on Nov. 28 that the Baja California Security Coordination Group informed them of the threat from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG for its acronym in Spanish).

The cover in question showed the photos of ten men accompanied with the headline, “The Most Wanted of the CJNG in BC [Baja California].” Zeta said that a majority, but not all, were members of the CJNG.

Zeta said state intelligence discovered that a man who appeared on the cover ordered that the offices of Zeta be shot on Nov. 27, when no one was around, to serve as a warning. The man, identified as Israel Alejandro Vázquez Vázquez, was apparently bothered that authorities gave his and other photos to Zeta, which subsequently published them, the weekly reported.

The attack was not carried out and possibly postponed, according to Zeta.

“Those of us who work at Zeta maintain our commitment to journalism of investigation, contestation and denunciation about people from Government, institutions or crime, who seek to maintain impunity to attack society in which we work,” read the article from Zeta.

Following the reported threats, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) called on authorities to protect Zeta staff members.

"Since its launch in 1980, Zeta has been a model of independent journalism in the fight against drug trafficking in Mexico," an IAPA press release said.

Recently, co-director of Zeta, Adela Navarro Bello, denounced an alleged plan by state authorities to carry out a smear campaign against her. In a Nov. 4 editorial, Navarro claimed to have received information about the campaign to publish “disgraces” about her private life.

Zeta is one of the boldest publications in Mexico. Its slogan is “Free as the wind.” It has suffered several grave attacks throughout the years with suspects in both government and organized crime. Co-director and co-founder Héctor Félix Miranda was killed in 1988. Co-founder Jesús Blancornelas survived an assassination attempt in 1997 that ultimately killed his bodyguard. And editor Francisco Javier Ortiz was murdered in 2004.

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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