Death threats against journalist after drug trafficking report

New York, July 18, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists urges authorities in Paraguay to investigate death threats against a journalist covering drug trafficking in an area where another journalist disappeared more than five months ago.

Luis Alcides Ruiz Díaz of the weekly Hechos received an anonymous text message Saturday warning him about his reporting, the local press reported. It was the third such message since Ruiz wrote about the drug trade in the northeast city of Pedro Juan Caballero on the Brazilian border. He published a list of names of alleged traffickers.

Ruiz filed a complaint about the threats with police for the first time on Monday. He had been threatened June 19 in an SMS message saying that he would make the front page of the papers with “many holes and much blood,” according to the local press. A second text message threat a few days later accused him of being on the local governor’s payroll, and warned the reporter, “You will die with him.”

A radio news show host, Enrique Galeano, who also reported on drug trafficking, went missing in Yby Yaú, near Pedro Juan Caballero, on February 4. Galeano presented a morning show on Radio Azotey and edited the monthly magazine Alo vecino. On March 30, CPJ placed him on its missing journalists list. Yby Yaú prosecutor Camila Rojas, who is leading an investigation, told CPJ that Galeano’s disappearance seemed related to his work.

“The Paraguayan authorities must conduct a thorough investigation into the death threats against Luis Alcides Ruiz Díaz and bring those responsible to justice,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We are extremely concerned about the safety of our colleagues in northern Paraguay, where uncertainty about the fate of Enrique Galeano has cast a chill over the entire media.”

Read the February 15 and March 30 alerts on Galeano’s disappearance.

See CPJ’s missing journalist list.