Adela Navarro Bello, the director of Zeta, at the magazine's headquarters in 2011. Police are stationed at Zeta's office after a cartel plot to attack the magazine was discovered. (AFP/Ruben Victorio)

Cartel plots to shoot at offices of Mexico's Zeta magazine

November 30, 2016 10:28 AM ET

November 30, 2016--The Committee to Protect Journalists urged authorities today to ensure the safety of journalists working at the Tijuana-based weekly Zeta. The Mexican magazine is currently under police protection after authorities learned of a plot by a cartel to attack the office.

The Public Security Secretariat of Mexico's Baja California state notified Zeta's management on November 27 that investigators had discovered a plot by the Jalisco cartel in Tijuana to shoot at the offices of Zeta in the early hours, when no employees were around, according to Adela Navarro Bello, the director of Zeta and CPJ's 2007 International Press Freedom Awardee. The officers said the cartel postponed the plot when it was unable to find people to carry out the attack at the planned time.

Navarro Bello told CPJ that police are stationed outside the offices of Zeta.

"Mexican authorities have taken the correct first steps in identifying the threat against Zeta and providing staff with protection at their office," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas program director. "Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the Americas and we call on authorities to continue to offer protection and to punish those behind the planned attack."

Investigators attributed the threat to a November 25 report in Zeta that listed the most wanted criminals in Baja California, according to an article in Zeta about the threat. The report included the photos and names of 10 people alleged to be leaders in the cartel.

Zeta is one of the only publications to regularly run investigations on organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption in Mexico's northern states. The cost of Zeta's coverage of crime has been high: Héctor Félix Miranda, co-founder of the magazine, was killed in 1988, and co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was murdered in 2004.

The Jalisco cartel is known in the state for its violence and expansion during recent drug turf wars. Criminal groups, including cartels, are responsible for more than 60 percent of journalist killings in Mexico, according to CPJ research.

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