Alejandro Zenón Fonseca Estrada

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:
On the evening of September 23, 2008, four unidentified men in a van shot Fonseca as he hung anti-crime posters on a major street in the capital city of Villahermosa, in the southern Gulf coast state of Tabasco, according to witnesses and local police. One of the posters read: “No to Kidnappings,” and another declared support for the Tabasco governor. Fonseca, 33, died from chest wounds at a local hospital the next morning.

Fonseca, known by the affectionate Mexican nickname “The Godfather,” was the charismatic host of a popular morning call-in show “El Padrino Fonseca” (The Godfather Fonseca), geared toward young listeners. On his show, Fonseca had announced plans to hang the posters in line with his anti-crime campaign, according to CPJ interviews.

In October 2008, Tabasco state authorities arrested five men and one woman in connection with the slaying. The next month, military officials in neighboring Chiapas state announced the arrests of three more men. Alex Alvarez Gutiérrez, deputy prosecutor for the Tabasco attorney general’s office, told CPJ that the murder was a direct result of the journalist’s anti-crime campaign.

One suspect, described as a member of the Zetas criminal group, was cooperating with Mexico’s anti-organized crime unit and was being held in a witness protection program. The remaining suspects were charged with Fonseca’s murder and were being held in a high-security prison in Nayarit state, according to the federal attorney general’s office, local news reports, and CPJ interviews with reporters in Tabasco. Those suspects also face other federal criminal charges, including kidnapping and drug trafficking counts. No trial had been scheduled as of June 2010.

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