Journalist missing for nearly two weeks in Mexico

Mexico City, November 8, 2012–Mexican authorities must thoroughly investigate the disappearance of journalist Adela Jazmín Alcaraz López, who was last seen nearly two weeks ago, the Committee to Protect journalists said today. 

Alcaraz, an evening news anchor for cable Channel 12 in Rioverde, a small town in the middle of the central state of San Luis Potosí, disappeared on October 26. According to local news reports, a man who identified himself as “Captain Victor” phoned a brother of Alcaraz and said that the journalist’s two children–who had apparently been abducted with her–were safe and had been taken to the home of their babysitter. They were subsequently found there and turned over to Alcaraz’s mother, according to news reports.

Local journalists, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told CPJ they initially suspected the crime was a case of kidnapping for ransom, but there has been no word from the abductors besides the phone call regarding her children. The local press, including Alcaraz, avoids reporting stories that might anger the powerful organized crime groups operating in the area, although it is difficult to predict what might offend a local kingpin, local journalists told CPJ. Her family could not be contacted for comment.

“We are deeply concerned by the disappearance of Adela Jazmín Alcaraz López,” said CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauría, from New York. “Mexican authorities must conduct a thorough investigation to find her and bring the kidnappers to justice.”

The state attorney general’s office has not said anything publicly about the case in a week; it last said the evidence was not clear if Alcaraz was kidnapped for ransom or murdered. An official of the federal special prosecutor’s office for crimes against journalists said there were federal agents in Rioverde investigating, but would give no details on whether the crime appeared to be associated with Alcaraz’s work as a journalist.

Drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. More than 50 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 2007.