Mexico City, April 26, 2018–Mexican authorities must conduct credible investigations into two recent burglaries, one at the Mexico City-based investigative magazine and website Proceso and another at the news website Quadratín in Guerrero state, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Unknown intruders on April 20 broke into the home of one of Proceso‘s website editors in Mexico City and stole two hard drives along with several memory cards, scores of reporting notes, a desktop computer, and four suitcases with a camera, lenses, and two drones, according to the outlet. The editor’s name was withheld from the website’s report for safety reasons.
In a separate case, on the night of April 19 unidentified persons forced open the door into the Quadratín‘s Acapulco office in Guerrero and stole documents, a DVD, and a hard drive with archives of the last several years, the publication’s editorial director Ricardo Castillo Díaz told CPJ on April 20.
“Burglaries into the offices of journalists and media and theft of information are common occurrences in Mexico and serve to intimidate reporters,” said CPJ’s Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. “Mexican authorities must investigate the recent break-ins at Proceso and Quadratín and end this cycle of impunity.”
In Mexico City, Proceso reported on April 21 that members of the editorial staff reported the burglary to city authorities and did not offer more detail about the nature of the information that was taken.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, the head of the office of the federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) division of the federal attorney general’s office, confirmed to CPJ on April 25 that his office opened an investigation into the burglary.
Proceso frequently reports on politics, corruption, organized crime, and general news from across the country. Its reporters on numerous occasions have been the target of harassment, threats, and violence. Its Mexico City offices were broken into by unknown individuals on May 26, 2017, the website reported at the time.
CPJ was unable to reach Proceso for comment.
In Acapulco, Castillo told CPJ that he on April 20 reported the burglary to the Guerrero state attorney general’s office. However, the local office of the federal attorney general refused to accept the crime report saying that it had already been reported on the state level.
Pérez from the FEADLE told CPJ that his office had not yet opened an investigation into the burglary and that it was waiting for the crime to be officially reported to them.
An official of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the record told CPJ on April 21 that his institution had reached out to Quadratín and is currently considering protective measures.
Castillo told CPJ that the burglars did not take anything of monetary value from the office and left behind metal cutters and industrial clamps, which Castillo believes they used to open the office door.
The editorial director said that, to his knowledge, none of the staff had received threats in recent months. He said that the website received messages telling it to “stop it” after reporting critically on Acapulco Mayor Evodio Velázquez.
CPJ’s calls to Velázquez’s office between April 20 and April 25 were unanswered.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere for journalists, according to CPJ research. At least two journalists have been killed in 2018 in direct relation to their work.