A woman holds a photo of Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach during a demonstration in Mexico City on March 25, 2017. Juan Carlos Moreno was sentenced to prison in the murder case. (AP/Eduardo Verdugo)

CPJ welcomes sentence in Miroslava Breach murder case, urges further investigation

Mexico City, August 24, 2020 – A federal court in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua sentenced Juan Carlos Moreno to 50 years in prison on August 21 for his participation in the murder of journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea on March 23, 2017, according to a statement by Propuesta Cívica, a legal nonprofit organization that represents the journalist’s family. The Committee to Protect Journalists hailed the measure but urged Mexican authorities to bring all suspects in the murder to justice.

The court had already convicted Moreno on March 18 of this year, according to news reports. Moreno, alias “El Larry,” attacked Breach in the early morning of March 23, 2017, when the reporter left her home in Chihuahua, the capital city of the state with the same name. Breach, 54, was shot eight times and died on the spot. A second suspect, identified by federal authorities only as Jaciel, allegedly drove the getaway car and remains at large, despite a warrant for his arrest.

“Sending Juan Carlos Moreno to prison is a step in the right direction in solving the murder of Miroslava Breach, one of Mexico’s bravest and most intrepid reporters,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Much still needs to be done before Mexican authorities can claim that have achieved justice, however, as the alleged mastermind of the killing is still at large.”

Miroslava Breach was the correspondent for national newspaper La Jornada in Chihuahua. According to the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), Breach was targeted for her critical reporting on links between local politicians and criminal gangs in the rural Sierra Tarahumara region in western Chihuahua.

According to testimony provided by a witness during the trial, the first day of which CPJ attended on February 17, 2020, Breach’s murder was ordered by José Crispín Salazar, the alleged leader of a criminal gang active in the Sierra Tarahumara region with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of Mexico’s oldest and largest criminal organizations. According to the testimony, Salazar was angered by Breach’s reports in La Jornada about his gang’s interference in local elections and ties to municipal governments in the area.