Luis Martín Sánchez Iñíguez
A screen shot of Luis Martín Sánchez Iñíguez, a correspondent for Mexican newspaper La Jornada, who was found dead on July 8, 2023, in a suburb of Tepic. (YouTube/Milenio TV)

Mexican journalist Luis Martín Sánchez Iñíguez killed in Nayarit

Mexico City, July 13, 2023—Mexican authorities must immediately, transparently, and credibly investigate the killing of journalist Luis Martín Sánchez Iñíguez and determine whether he was killed because of his work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

Sánchez, the correspondent in the northern Mexican state of Nayarit for the Mexico City-based national newspaper La Jornada, was found dead on Saturday, July 8, in El Ahuacate, a suburb of Nayarit’s state capital of Tepic, 500 miles northwest of Mexico City, according to a statement by the Nayarit state prosecutor’s office (FGE). The prosecutor’s office added that his body showed “signs of violence,” and that two pieces of cardboard with handwritten messages were left with the remains.

The FGE did not disclose the contents of the messages, but according to several news reports, one said, “You can write whatever you want, but don’t mess with the family.”

“The shocking killing of Luis Martín Sánchez Iñíguez underscores the crisis of deadly violence and impunity that continues to plague the Mexican press,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Mexican authorities must immediately do everything in their power to bring Sánchez’s killers to justice, lest they once again send the message that press killings can be carried out with impunity.”

According to the FGE statement and reports in La Jornada and CriticaDN, where Sánchez was also a contributor, the reporter’s wife Cecilia López first noticed that he had gone missing on the evening of Wednesday, July 5. He had returned home alone to his residence in Tepic following a family visit with her in a nearby town, but once he was no longer answering his cell phone, López’s son went to check the residence. He discovered that his father was missing, along with his laptop, cell phone, and his La Jornada press card.

CPJ contacted López via messaging app but has not yet received a reply.

In an interview with La Jornada published on July 10, Nayarit’s state prosecutor, Petronilo Díaz Ponce Medrano, said that Sánchez’s work as a reporter is “one of the principal lines of investigation,” adding that his office is investigating the killing together with federal investigators.

A spokesperson for the FGE did not answer a request for comment sent via messaging app.

Sánchez, who was 59, joined La Jornada a year and a half ago as a correspondent in Nayarit, according to news reports. He had previously also worked for as a spokesperson for the FGE, according to news reports and Karina Cancino, a reporter based in Tepic, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

CPJ found one story with Sánchez’s byline in the online archives of La Jornada, a January report about Mexican federal authorities taking DNA samples from family members of disappeared people in Nayarit. CPJ was unable to find stories with his byline on the website of CríticaDN. CPJ sent requests for comment via messaging app to editors at both publications but did not receive replies.

Several reporters based in Nayarit have told CPJ that journalists in the state often do not use bylines out of fear of reprisal for their reporting, especially when covering crime and violence.

Mexico is the deadliest country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere. At least three reporters were killed in direct relation to their work in 2022, and CPJ is investigating the killings of 10 other reporters that year to determine the motive.

Editor’s note: The first paragraph has been updated to reflect that the alert was published Thursday, July 13.