Francisco Pacheco Beltrán

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Mexican journalist Francisco Pacheco Beltrán was shot to death in front of his home on April 25, 2016, in the city of Taxco, Guerrero state, according to local press reports. Pacheco was a reporter for several regional newspapers and a regular contributor to a radio station.

Members of Pacheco’s family told CPJ that the journalist was attacked in front of his home by an unknown number of assailants and suffered two gunshots to the back of his head just after 6 a.m., as he returned from taking one of his daughters to a bus terminal.

One of Pacheco’s daughters told CPJ that she and her mother were in their home at the time of the attack. She said they heard two noises which sounded like firecrackers, and went out to find the lifeless body of her father near the front door of the house. She told CPJ there was no sign of his killer.

Local authorities confirmed to CPJ that two bullet shell cases were found at the scene of the crime, but said there were apparently no witnesses to the murder.

Pacheco, 55, covered local news as a correspondent for the daily Sol de Acapulco; was the editor of Foro de Taxco, a weekly magazine; and contributed regularly to Capital Máxima, a radio broadcaster based in Guerrero’s state capital of Chilpancingo.

Pacheco also had a website, where he regularly posted articles on regional crime and violence–which in recent years has spiked in relation to organized crime and drug trafficking. The nearby city of Iguala was the scene of a mass abduction and suspected murder of 43 students in 2014, and both Taxco and Iguala have been the scene of a violent turf battle between rival criminal groups.

Some local media reports described Pacheco’s work as critical of local authorities, and especially the mayor of Taxco. However, family members and colleagues told CPJ he had not reported having received any threats and did not seem concerned about his safety.

His most recent contributions to a Capital Máxima news show were about tourism in Taxco and confusion on social media caused by a fire. Pacheco also reported on violence in the coastal resort city of Acapulco.

“His murder is very surprising. He had been a contributor for us for several years, but I have never been aware of any threats he might have received,” Federico Sariñana, the editor of the radio news show with whom Pacheco collaborated, told CPJ.

On May 3, the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression announced that it would open up an investigation into the case, according to press reports.