Mexico City, January 16, 2018--Authorities in Mexico's northern Tamaulipas state must undertake a swift and credible investigation into the murder of journalist Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Unknown assailants on January 13 killed Domínguez Rodríguez while he was driving through the city of Nuevo Laredo near the Texas border, according to news reports.
As Domínguez Rodríguez, 77, stopped at a traffic light around 3 p.m., at least two unidentified men approached his vehicle, opened the driver's door, and stabbed him 21 times with at least one knife, according to the state's attorney general, Irving Barrios, who spoke to the Mexico City broadcaster Radio Fórmula on January 15.
Barrios said that at least four of Domínguez Rodríguez's family members were in the car at the time of the attack, and were unharmed, leading the attorney general to believe the attack was targeted at Domínguez Rodríguez. The state declined to reveal the family members' identities for safety reasons.
"Mexican authorities must swiftly investigate the murder of Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez, and bring all of those responsible to justice," said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ's North American program coordinator. "Until the Mexican government decides to change the pattern of impunity in the country, criminals will continue to get away with killing journalists."
Barrios told CPJ in a January 14 telephone conversation that state authorities are investigating the murder, but that he did not yet have any clues as to the identity of the killers or the possible motive. He said his office is following several lines of investigation, including the victim's work as a journalist.
State authorities were unaware of any threats against the journalist's life, according to Barrios and another person familiar with the matter who CPJ chose not to name for safety reasons.
Domínguez Rodríguez worked as a columnist for publications including news websites Noreste Digital and Horizonte de Matamoros, and delivered pointed critiques of local politicians. The journalist also covered national and local politics as a freelancer and was previously a staff reporter for the newspaper El Diario de Nuevo Laredo.
The state attorney said local authorities provided Domínguez Rodríguez's family with "permanent protection" in the wake of the journalist's murder, but declined to give further details, citing safety concerns.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, the federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), told CPJ on January 14 that special prosecutor employees were in Tamaulipas to assist with the investigation.
Mexico is the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists. Last year, at least six reporters were murdered in retaliation for their work, according to CPJ research. CPJ is investigating another three murders in 2017 to ascertain the motive.
Tamaulipas in general and Nuevo Laredo in particular are among the most violent states and cities in Mexico. According to news reports, more than one thousand people were killed in the state in 2017. Nuevo Laredo is a particularly violent city due to its proximity to the U.S.-Mexican border, which serves as a lucrative drug smuggling corridor for organized crime, according to news reports. Criminal gangs often threaten and attack reporters in Tamaulipas and impose severe restrictions on what journalists can report, according to CPJ's 2017 edition of Attacks on the Press.