Unidentified gunmen in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero on May 13, 2017, robbed seven journalists and threatened to kill them, according to press reports and other journalists who spoke with the victims.
A group of roughly 100 heavily armed men stopped the seven journalists at around 7 p.m as they traveled in two cars near the town of Acaptelahuaya, in the northern Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero state, approximately 180 miles southwest of Mexico City, according to news reports. The reporters were in the area, known as a violent hotbed for organized crime, on a reporting trip, the reports said.
Among the journalists were: Sergio Ocampo and Jair Cabrera, Guerrero correspondents for the national newspaper La Jornada; Alejandro Ortiz, of the news website Bajo Palabra; Jorge Martínez, of the news wire Quadratin; Ángel Galeana, a correspondent for Imágen TV and Excelsior TV; Pablo Pérez, a freelance reporter from Mexico City; and Hans-Máximo Musielik, a Spanish-German freelance photographer based in Mexico city.
The following day, the reporters told media that the gunmen forced them out of their cars and told them to surrender their laptops, cell phones, and camera equipment, as well as one of their vehicles. La Jornada’s Sergio Ocampo told news portal Aristegui Noticias that the attackers allowed them to leave after approximately 15 minutes, but told the victims not to report the incident to soldiers at a nearby military checkpoint.
“One of them told us that if we said anything at the checkpoint, with the soldiers, that they would burn us alive, because they had lookouts there,” Ocampo said.
Several journalists who had been in touch with the victims told CPJ that the group traveled to the city of Iguala after the incident, where they reported the attack to Federal Police, who then escorted them to the state capital of Chilpancingo. The journalists’ described their colleagues’ condition as “shaken, but not physically harmed.”
In a May 14 statement, the office of Guerrero state governor Héctor Astudillo said the attackers “presumably belonged to La Familia Michoacana,” an organized crime group.
“After hearing that they had arrived in Chilpancingo by their own means, state and federal authorities, as well as the Human Rights Commission, interviewed them to offer their support and activate protection mechanisms for journalists,” the statement added.