Daniel Martinez Bazaldua, a photographer with the newspaper Vanguardia, was found dead yesterday in the northern Mexico City of Saltillo, the Associated Press reports. He had been missing since Tuesday, when he left the Vanguardia office in the afternoon.
The bodies of Martinez Bazaldua, age 22, and another man identified as Julian Zamora, 23, were found dismembered on a street. According to state prosecutors, the body parts were dumped along with a hand-written message saying that the Zetas drug cartel was responsible for the killings. Saltillo is located in northern Coahuila, a state where Zetas is known to operate.
Coahuila state Attorney General Homero Ramos told reporters that investigators had indications both men “were participating in illegal activities.” Vanguardia, which hired Martinez a month ago to shoot for its society pages, rejected the attorney general’s claim, which was made before any criminal investigation into the murders.
In a statement issued yesterday, Carlos Lauría of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said, “It is irresponsible for authorities to reach conclusions before conducting a full investigation.” CPJ called on Mexican authorities “to fully investigate this crime, examine all possible motives, and bring those responsible to justice.”
CPJ reports that according to a Vanguardia editor who asked to remain anonymous, “Photographers covering the society section in Mexico have been targeted by organized crime groups in the past for inadvertently capturing images of cartel members, according to CPJ research.”
In May, three news photographers who covered organized crime and drug violence in Veracruz were found dead and dismembered.
CPJ reports that more than 50 journalists have been killed or disappeared in the last six years
Three News Photographers Murdered in Veracruz, Mexico