Three journalists in Sinaloa, Mexico assaulted by police during protests against “El Chapo” Guzmán’s arrest

By Diego Cruz

Three reporters from the news network Noroeste were assaulted in the Mexican state of Sinaloa on Sunday, March 2, after municipal police attempted to disperse a protest supporting the recently captured drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, reported newspaper El Informador.

The number of protesters, who were mostly young people demanding that Guzmán not be extradited to the United States, was between 800 and 1,500 people, according to different media reports. The protesters convened on Sunday afternoon around the chapel of Jesús Malverde, the “patron saint” of drug traffickers, located near the Government Palace in Culiacán, said the website RadioFormula. More than 20 municipal police units tried to disperse the protesters, who then divided into several groups around the city. Another march took place in the city of Guamúchil and police detained at least 216 people that day, reported El Universal.

In Culiacán, police confiscated a videographer’s cell phone after she used it to record police actions against the protesters. A photojournalist from the network was hurt by police at the same protest after he tried to photograph used shell casings left over from shots fired by police into the air to disperse the crowd.

Three [police officers] arrived, they threw me on the floor, they hit me, I identified myself as press but they continued hitting me, saying they would kill me,” the photojournalist told newspaper El Debate. He said the police handcuffed him and covered his head with a bag while they hit him, smashed his camera against the floor and abandoned him minutes later.

A third reporter from the network, Sergio Lozano García, was hurt in Guamúchil while taking a photograph of police subduing a young man during the march. The officers asked Lozano García to hand over his equipment when they realized he was taking pictures of them. After he refused, one of them grabbed him from the neck while the others took his camera and destroyed its lens, according to El Debate. Lozano García said the police knew he was a journalist since he had talked to them earlier that day and even taken photographs at their request.

The confrontations occurred after the authorities asked protesters to stop their march since, they said, it was violating laws forbidding the defense of criminal actions like Guzmán’s, reported the Associated Press.

This was the second protest to be organized in favor of the drug lord. On Wednesday, Feb. 26, approximately 2,000 people marched in the streets of Culiacán, a bastion for the Sinaloa Cartel, previously led by Guzmán, according to the digital newspaper Infobae.

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.