Police at a crime scene where the slain body of local television entertainer Jose Luis Cerda was found. (Reuters/Tomas Bravo)
Police at a crime scene where the slain body of local television entertainer Jose Luis Cerda was found. (Reuters/Tomas Bravo)

Mexico’s drug war claims young photographer

New York, March 29, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores the shooting death of Mexican photographer Luis Emanuel Ruiz Carrillo on Friday and calls on Mexican authorities to launch a thorough investigation into his killing.  

Ruiz, 21, a photographer with Monclova-based news daily La Prensa, was found fatally shot in Monterrey, Nueva León state, early Friday morning, according to CPJ interviews and press reports. He had been abducted the previous night along with José Luis Cerda Meléndez, a Televisa-Monterrey entertainment show host, as the two were leaving the station’s studios in a vehicle driven by Cerda’s cousin, Juan Gómez Meléndez. According to news reports, unidentified armed men forced the three out of the vehicle and into a van.

Ruiz, Cerda, and Gómez were found dead in southern Monterrey with gunshots to the head, the local press reported. Press reports said a graffiti message referencing a major drug cartel was found on a wall near Cerda’s body. “Stop cooperating with the Zetas,” it said. (In a strange twist, an armed individual seized Cerda’s body in the midst of the police crime scene investigation, moving it to another location, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.)

Ruiz had traveled to Monterrey for a piece on Cerda, a onetime drug addict and street thug who had become a popular TV personality, La Prensa‘s editorial director, Jesús Medina, told CPJ.  “Luis was an incidental victim,” Medina said.

Ruiz, who had just eight months on the job, was still in college and last year won a state journalism award, Medina told CPJ. “There was so much ahead for him,” he said. “He had a personal quality and a professional quality that made him stand out.”

“We mourn the death of our colleague Luis Ruiz Carrillo,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior coordinator for the Americas. “Mexican authorities must launch an exhaustive investigation into this brutal attack and work to reverse the pattern of impunity in journalist killings.”

Drug-related violence has turned Mexico into one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, CPJ research shows. Ten journalists were killed in 2010, at least three in direct reprisal for their work. CPJ is investigating to determine whether the other seven deaths were related to the journalists’ work.