Journalist threatened with death after reporting on local drug kingpin

FEBRUARY 22, 2008
Posted April 22, 2008

Miguel Ramírez, El Comercio

Ramírez, a well-known investigative journalist for the Peruvian national daily El Comercio, was threatened with death after reporting on a local drug kingpin, the reporter said in an interview with CPJ. Ramírez, who has investigated the kingpin for over a decade, said he and his family have previously been threatened.

Ramírez told CPJ that on February 22, an unidentified woman called the Lima offices of El Comercio and told the operator that “the next death, the next dismembered dog, will be Miguel Ramírez.” The reporter said the caller referenced the recent murder of two men found dismembered. One of the slain individuals was the cousin of Oscar Benítez, a man who recently testified against his former associate, the incarcerated local drug kingpin Fernando Zevallos.

Ramírez told CPJ that he has covered Zevallos since 1995 when he began reporting on Zevallos’s alleged criminal activities. In 2005, El Comercio assigned Ramírez to a trial against Zevallos because of his expertise in the case. Ramírez said he continues to cover the Zevallos case.  
According to Ramírez, in 2004,Zevallos filed a criminal defamation suit against him and El Comercio following a series of stories that accused Zevallos of drug trafficking and murder. Ramírez told CPJ that since 2004, he and his parents have received calls at their homes and on Ramírez’s cell phone threatening the reporter with death. Authorities have not investigated the threats against Ramírez but El Comercio has provided him with a security detail since 2004, the reporter told CPJ.