Mexico arrests suspect over murder of journalist Javier Valdez | News | DW | 24.04.2018
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Mexico arrests suspect over murder of journalist Javier Valdez

Mexico's Interior Ministry has announced the arrest of a man in connection with the murder of a renowned journalist. Javier Valdez had been reporting on the country's drug war.

Murdered journalist Javier Valdez (Getty Images/AFP/H. Guerrero)

Valdez, pictured in his signature straw hat, was known for detailed and nuanced accounts of the drug business

Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete Prida said federal officers had arrested the person presumed responsible for the killing of celebrated journalist Javier Valdez.

Valdez, aged 50, was gunned down in the street just over a year ago in the city of Culiacan, capital of the northern state of Sinaloa. The award-winning writer was known for his nuanced examinations of Mexico's drug scene, detailing the interplay between the worlds of crime, politics, and law-enforcement.

As well as writing books, Valdez — who was known for his trademark straw hat — also shared his knowledge in a column in the newspaper RioDoce, which he helped found.

Read more: How dangerous are vacations in Mexico?

Authorities declined to give further details of the arrest, but Valdez' friend and RioDoce editor Isamel Bojorquez said the suspect had been arrested in the border city of Tijuana. He said the man had been involved in an organized crime group, although he did not say which one.

Danger zone for reporters

RioDoce reported that the suspect had been named as a 26-year-old known by the alias "Koala." It quoted special prosecutor Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, who said the suspect had been driving the car that intercepted Valdez when he was killed on May 15, 2017. There were allegedly three attackers in the car.

Shortly before he was killed, Valdez had published a book called "Narcoreporting," in which he covered the dangers faced by journalists reporting on the country's drug war.

Read more: Medellin takes victims' side as 'narco tours' bring tourists

Free speech organization Article 19 says that Mexico is the most dangerous place to practice journalism in Latin America, with murder rates on a par with those in Syria. Figures show that 10 journalists, including Valdez, were killed in 2017 alone.

Mexico saw heightened violence in 2017 after the 2016 capture of former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The cartel has been fighting with the Jalisco New Generation cartel for control of territory in western Mexico.

rc/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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