Rodríguez Hernández was gunned down in front of his family in a cafeteria in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, home to some of Mexico’s top drug traffickers. The 35-year-old photographer worked for the Mazatlán edition of the newspaper El Debate. Four men, including a former police chief, were convicted of murdering him in April 2007 and sentenced to 11 years apiece.
Armed men approached Rodríguez’s table as he was eating with his wife and sons, 3 and 6, and opened fire, according to The Associated Press and local news reports. He was shot at least five times, news reports said.
Rodríguez took police, sports, and community pictures for the newspaper, El Debate Editor Laura Bejar told the AP. She added that Rodríguez often took photographs dealing with drug trafficking.
In April 2007, local judge Daniel Armenta Rentería convicted former Escuinapa Police Chief Abel Enríquez Zavala on charges that he acted as an intermediary between the mastermind and the perpetrators, court secretary Juan Carlos López told CPJ. Pedro Salas Franco, Francisco Pineda Sarmiento, and Elías Alvarez González were convicted of carrying out the crime, López said. Investigators have not publicly specified a motive or identified the person who commissioned the killing.
A colleague of the victim told CPJ that he believes the killing was in retaliation for Rodríguez’s work. Political columnist Fernando Zepeda said that Rodríguez had taken photographs of local officials, including former police commander Enríquez, with alleged drug traffickers. The four defendants have appealed, according to local press reports.