At about 10:45 a.m. on August 19, 2021, unidentified attackers in a vehicle shot and killed Jacinto Romero Flores, a reporter for radio broadcaster Ori Stereo FM, while he was driving his car on Reforma Boulevard in Potrerillo, a town in the Ixtaczoquitlán municipality of Mexico’s Veracruz state, according to news reports.
The attackers shot him multiple times and he died at the scene, according to those reports, citing police sources.
Romero had previously reported receiving threats, and had been granted protection from Veracruz state authorities, according to those reports.
Romero, 60, anchored “Dígalo Sin Miedo” (“Say It Without Fear”), a radio show on Orizaba, Veracruz-based broadcaster Ori Stereo FM, in which people called in to discuss crime, corruption, and alleged abuses and negligence by local authorities, according to reports. He previously worked as a reporter for El Sol de Orizaba, a newspaper in Orizaba, according to those reports.
Romero also hosted “El Enano del Tapanco” (“The Dwarf of Tapanco”), a weekly Facebook-based talk show in which he and guests discussed Veracruz state and national politics. In addition, he wrote regular articles and columns on a personal blog, where he most recently published stories about the environment, cultural events, and education.
CPJ was unable to review Romero’s recent work for Ori Stereo FM, which does not have an online archive. The station condemned the killing in a statement on Facebook; CPJ repeatedly called the station for comment, but no one answered.
Israel Hernández, the executive secretary of the Veracruz State Commission for Attention to and Protection of Journalists, an autonomous state government agency, told CPJ in a phone interview that Romero covered a wide range of topics, including crime and security in the area.
According to multiple news reports, Romero had reported having received threats from a local police officer in Texhuacan in February. In an August 19 article, news website La Silla Rota reported that the threat came from a policeman from Texhuacan after Romero had reported that the officer had fired his gun at a teenager. La Silla Rota did not link to the story it referred to and CPJ was unable to retrieve the article.
CPJ was unable to locate contact information for police in Texhuacan to ask for comment.
Hernández told CPJ that Romero had reported receiving threats in February and that he had been enrolled in a protection program coordinated by his commission, but said the measures were “moderate to light.”
“We only monitored him, because he didn’t want any additional security like bodyguards,” Hernández said.
Romero had also been a candidate for mayor in Ixtaczoquitlán in 2017 for the New Alliance Party, according to news reports, and was a member of the National Regeneration Party (Morena) of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García.
On November 12, the Veracruz state prosecutor’s office announced on its Facebook page that three suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder. The announcement named the suspects as Roberto “N,” Casto “N,” and Ana Laura “N,” but provided no further details about them or their alleged motive. La Jornada Maya, a regional newspaper, identified Roberto “N” as a former member of the local council in Ixtaczoquitlán. CPJ called the council for comment but no one answered.
On April 15, 2022, authorities arrested Patricio Alejandro “N,” who had been appointed alderman in Ixtaczoquitlán that January but had not yet assumed office, for his alleged involvement in the killing, according to news reports and the state prosecutor’s office.
CPJ repeatedly called that office and the Ixtaczoquitlán municipal police for comment, but no one answered.
On August 19, 2022, Israel Hernández, executive secretary of the Veracruz State Commission for Attention to and Protection of Journalists, told CPJ in a phone interview that Patricio Alejandro “N” was charged with having ordered Romero’s killing, but he was unable to provide details about a possible motive. No court date was set yet as of August 25, 2022, Hernández said.
CPJ was unable to find contact information for the suspects or their legal representation.