Mexico City, May 10, 2022 – Mexican authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the death of journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez, find those responsible, and bring them to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On the morning of May 5, Ramírez’s body was found near a dirt road in the northwestern city of Culiacán, wrapped in black plastic and with severe head wounds, according to news reports, a statement by the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the case, and prosecutor Sara Bruna Quiñónez Estrada, from that office, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Ramírez, 59, was a political columnist for the Culiacán newspaper El Debate, a co-founder of the news website Fuentes Fidedignas, and a contributor to national outlets including La Jornada and El Financiero, according to an obituary published by Fuentes Fidedignas.
Quiñónez told CPJ that her office had opened an investigation into the killing and did not rule out any possible motive, including Ramírez’s work as a journalist.
“The shocking death of Luis Enrique Ramírez extends Mexico’s gruesome streak of killings that have made 2022 already one of the nation’s deadliest on record for the press,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “If Mexican authorities want to end this cycle of violence and impunity, they must immediately take credible steps to find Ramírez’s killers and bring them to justice.”
Quiñónez told CPJ that her office was investigating witness reports that a group of people had forced Ramírez into a white vehicle after he left his home at about 3 a.m. on May 5. She said that Ramírez seemingly died of wounds to his head, and did not appear to have been tortured.
In his most recent publications for El Debate, Ramírez covered state and local politics in Sinaloa and Culiacán, including Governor Rubén Rocha, the mayors of Culiacán and Mazatlán, as well as all major political parties in the state congress. As a columnist, he wrote critically about the politicians and parties he covered, including infighting in opposition party PAN and spats between officials.
Most of the articles published on Fuentes Fidedignas in the weeks before Ramírez’s death did not carry a byline, but included coverage of local politics, including press conferences and events held by public officials.
Quiñónez told CPJ that Ramírez had left the state in 2011 for several months due to unspecified threats, but was unable to provide further details, stating that she was not in office at the time and had no knowledge of the matter. She said her office was not aware of any recent threats against Ramírez’s life.
According to CPJ research, at least three journalists have been killed in Mexico this year in direct relation to their work. CPJ is investigating another four killings to determine whether they were related to the victims’ work as journalists.