Eliseo Barrón Hernández

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At least seven hooded gunmen invaded the home of Barrón, a 35-year-old reporter for La Opinión, a paper based in the city of Torreón, Coahuila, in northern Mexico. Barrón had worked for the paper for 10 years, commuting from nearby Gómez Palacio, in neighboring Durango state.

As his horrified wife and two young daughters watched, assailants beat the reporter and forced him from his house into a vehicle. His body was found in an irrigation ditch with a gunshot wound to the head, according to Durango law enforcement officials. Days before his abduction, Barrón had covered a police corruption scandal that resulted in the dismissal of numerous officers, according to the newspaper Milenio, which owns La Opinión.

On the day of Barrón’s funeral, five banners purportedly signed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the notorious leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, were hung in prominent spots in Torreón. One banner said: “We are here, journalists. Ask Eliseo Barrón. El Chapo and the cartel do not forgive. Be careful, soldiers and journalists.” 

In June 2009, the Mexican army linked several suspects picked up on unrelated narcotics and weapons charges to the Barrón murder. One suspect, Israel Sánchez Jaimes, told investigators that a local cartel leader had ordered Barrón’s murder to “teach a lesson to other local journalists,” according to a statement issued by the federal attorney general’s office. In August 2009, a federal judge in Coahuila state ordered that five suspects be tried for the murder, the attorney general’s office said. A spokeswoman for the attorney general told CPJ in April 2010 that she could provide no updated information, including the suspects’ whereabouts and trial date. Barron’s colleagues told CPJ they were concerned that Sánchez’s statements were made under duress.

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