After crime stories, a reporter vanishes in southern Mexico

New York, January 26, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the fate of Mexican reporter Rodolfo Rincón Taracena, who has been missing in the southern Tabasco state since Saturday night. CPJ is investigating whether Rincón’s disappearance is linked to his professional work.

Rincón, an investigative crime reporter for the Villahermosa-based daily Tabasco Hoy, was last seen leaving the newsroom around 7 p.m., a colleague who asked not to be identified told CPJ. Rincón left his personal belongings and camera at his desk and told his editor that he would be back shortly, the source said. No one has heard from Rincón since.

The reporter’s wife and colleagues reported him missing to local authorities on Wednesday, according to Mexican press reports and CPJ interviews. On the day of his disappearance, Rincón had published an investigative article on local drug trafficking. On Sunday, the daily ran another article with Rincón’s byline on a local band of ATM muggers.

A source at Tabasco Hoy told CPJ that Rincón had received anonymous telephone threats in 2006, but had not seemed worried by them.

Ethel Riquelme Fernández, general director of the office of the special prosecutor for crimes against journalists in Mexico City, told CPJ that the office’s delegate in Tabasco is investigating Rincón’s disappearance. José Antonio Calcáneo Collado, president of the Federation of Mexican Journalists’ Associations, said that state authorities are also conducting an investigation.

“We are very worried about the well-being of our colleague Rodolfo Rincón,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We urge Mexican authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, to locate Rincón, and to bring him to safety.”

Two other Mexican journalists are missing, according to CPJ research. Rafael Ortiz Martínez, a reporter for the Monclova-based daily Zócalo and host of the morning news program “Radio Zócalo” on local radio station XHCCG, disappeared on July 8, 2006. He had reported on the prevalence of prostitution in Monclova, the resulting spread of HIV/AIDS, and its effect on families. Alfredo Jiménez Mota, a crime reporter for the Hermosillo-based El Imparcial, disappeared on April 2, 2005. Jiménez had recently investigated drug-trafficking families in the Mexico’s northern region. Sonora prosecutors have linked his disappearance with his journalistic work. Read more about these cases and those of other journalists missing worldwide.