García, founder and editor of the Facebook-based news outlet Escenario Calentano, was abducted along with two associates, Jesús Pintor Alegre and Fernando Moreno Villegas, in Arcelia town in the southern state of Guerrero in late December 2022, according to news reports. The abduction was characteristic of those carried out by criminal gangs in Mexico.
Moreno and Pintor, a writer and former correspondent for the defunct regional newspaper La Jornada de Guerrero, were released on January 11, according to news reports. Though some reports characterized Moreno as an administrator for Escenario Calentano, he said in subsequent interviews that he was a biochemist and not affiliated with the outlet.
García’s disappearance was publicized in a video that appeared on the outlet’s Facebook page on January 7. He and Moreno appeared in chains, and Moreno said that they were “facing the consequences for what we said about these people from the Tierra Caliente region,” where Escenario Calentano is based. CPJ reviewed the video from Mexico but the page was not accessible from the United States, and the outlet had not uploaded new content since it was published.
CPJ was unable to determine García’s whereabouts in early March. A local reporter, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity out of concern for their safety, said it was unclear whether he had been released or was still being held.
García founded Escenario Calentano five years ago and is its principal editor, according to news reports by Amapola, a Guerrero-based news website that has followed the case. Escenario Calentano regularly covers organized crime in the region around the Guerrero city of Ciudad Altamirano, including Arcelia. In the months leading up to the abduction, the outlet posted about La Familia Michoacana, a criminal gang active in the region, as well as alleged political corruption.
The reporter who spoke to CPJ said the outlet’s coverage of a rival gang may have angered La Familia Michoacana and led to the abductions.
The Guerrero state prosecutor’s office said on January 10 that it was investigating the abductions, and followed up the next day by announcing that they were coordinating with federal authorities, but did not give any further details. CPJ repeatedly called the prosecutor’s office for comment but did not receive any replies.
CPJ sent several messages to Pintor via messaging app after his release but did not receive a response. CPJ was unable to find contact information for García or Moreno.