Rodríguez Valladares, 28, worked as a cameraman for Canal 10, a local broadcaster that covers general news in the Cancún area. In a video uploaded to the Facebook page of El Balcón, a local news website, Germán Espiridión, a colleague of Rodríguez Valladares, said the reporter had previously worked for national broadcaster Televisa and that he also bought and sold cars.
According to a statement released by the state attorney general’s office on August 29, 2018, the attack on Rodríguez Valladares took place at the Supermanzana 29, a residential area in Cancún, a resort city popular among foreign tourists. Rodríguez Valladares was with another male who was also killed and whose identity has not been made public by the attorney general’s office. According to the statement, it is unclear how many people were involved in the attack.
On September 2, 2018, local authorities announced that they had apprehended a male suspect in the murder. The then Quintana Roo state attorney general, Miguel Ángel Pech Cen–who resigned on September 27–told CPJ on September 19, that the suspect was later released after an investigation indicated that he had not been involved in the murder. No further arrests have been made in the case as of October 2, 2018.
The state attorney general’s office said on August 29 the cameraman was off duty at the time of the attack and that he was not wearing company clothing, and that it therefore currently does not believe Rodríguez Valladares was killed because of his work as a journalist. It added, however, that it has not discarded any possible motives yet. During his September 19 conversation with CPJ, then state attorney general Pech Cen confirmed that his office was following the same lines of investigation.
One reporter from Cancún, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, told CPJ on August 30, 2018, that Rodríguez Valladares was apparently in the process of selling a car to the second victim of the attack, and that it was possible that the cameraman was killed as a bystander.
The reporter told CPJ that Rodríguez Valladares covered general news for Canal 10, and that he was well known and liked by his colleagues in the city, a statement echoed by Germán Espiridión of El Balcón in the video he uploaded to Facebook. CPJ was unable to locate recent work on the Canal 10 website that was credited to Rodríguez Valladares.
Canal 10 has been the victim of violence before. On October 24, 2017, unknown attackers fired shots at the building of the television station in Cancún, wounding an employee. No suspects for the attack have been arrested, and the motive behind the attack remains unclear. CPJ reached out to the station’s executives for comment via WhatsApp message on August 30, 2018, but did not receive a response.
A spokesperson for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of Mexico’s federal Interior Secretariat, told CPJ on August 30, 2018, that Canal 10 is not enrolled in a federal protection program. He added that his institution was unaware of any reported threats against Rodríguez Valladares. He asked to remain anonymous to be able to comment.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Prosecutor for Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), told CPJ on August 30, 2018, that he had opened an investigation into the killing.
On September 2, 2018, the Quintana Roo state attorney general’s office revealed in a press conference that a suspect had been apprehended in the murder case. According to news reports, then state attorney general Miguel Ángel Pech Cen said the suspect, municipal police officer Alfredo Silva, had been arrested. Pech Cen did not provide further details.
The suspect was released on September 6, after the state attorney general’s office concluded that Silva was not involved in the murder and withdrew the charges, according to news reports. No other suspects have been arrested as of mid-December 2018.