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Mexican Journalist Who Covered Drug Trade Gunned Down In Sinaloa

Mexican journalist Javier Valdez speaks at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2016. He was killed by a gunman on Monday.
Hector Guerrero
AFP/Getty Images
Mexican journalist Javier Valdez speaks at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2016. He was killed by a gunman on Monday.

One of Mexico's most respected journalists has been shot to death in his home state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, and a large group of gunmen has attacked seven other journalists traveling in the southwest.

A wave of attacks, several of them fatal, targeted reporters in Mexico over the past few months, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico.

Javier Valdez, who was shot to death in Culiacán, Sinaloa, on Monday, was a veteran reporter admired for his dogged coverage of drug trafficking, organized crime and life in Mexico's underworld, Carrie reports. He was a correspondent for a national newspaper, La Jornada, and also "founded the respected Riodoce publication and authored several books delving into narcotrafficking and organized crime."

A gunman pulled Valdez from his car and shot him multiple times, according to La Jornada.

"Valdez was a nationally and internationally recognized journalist who authored several books on the drug trade, including Narcoperiodismo and Los Morros del Narco," The Associated Press reports. "The latter chronicled the lives of young people swept up in Mexico's underworld."

A spokesman for a Mexican human rights organization, CNDH, tells La Jornada the killing "affects freedom of expression, and the very heart of Mexican democracy."

"Sinaloa, Valdez's home state, is infamous in Mexico's drug world," Carrie says. "It's also home to the Sinaloa cartel, which until recently was headed by Joaquin 'Chapo' Guzmán" — the infamous drug lord who, after a high-profile escape and recapture, has been extradited to the U.S. and is awaiting trial.

The attack comes a day after a group of around 100 gunmen attacked seven journalists traveling through southwestern Mexico.

Carrie reports on the Sunday attack for our Newscast unit:

"The attack occurred on a highway near the town of Iguala in the state of Guerrero. According to reports, about 100 armed men attacked the reporters traveling together in two SUVs.

"The reporters were in the region covering a security operation. It is one of the most dangerous in the country, fueled by drug cartel violence. Three years ago, 43 teaching students were kidnapped and disappeared in the area.

"According to the national newspaper, La Jornada, two of its employees were among the journalists attacked. The gunmen, who the paper say appeared to be drugged, roughed up some of the reporters, then stole their cameras, cellphones and other personal effects."

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists says.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.