José Luis León Desiderio

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

León, 43, host of a daily news program “Opinión” on local Radio Minutera, was shot in the coastal city of Guayaquil. León often denounced gang violence and police inaction in the city, Alejandro Alvarez, a reporter for the daily El Universo, told CPJ.

León left his home at 11 p.m. on February 13 to meet his wife, Jenny Piza, at a nearby bus stop, but the two never met. León’s wife and daughter found his body near their home early the next day, February 14. Press reports initially said that León had been shot three times, but his wife told CPJ that León was shot once in the head. He was not robbed.

Piza told CPJ that León had received a text message on his cell phone threatening him with death a few days before his murder. According to Hugo Asencio, news director for the radio program, a few weeks before the murder León had told him that a group of unidentified men hurled stones at his house.

León often reported on gang violence, drug trafficking, and the lack of police in Guayaquil’s suburbs, local press reports said. León also worked at a printing press and was studying journalism, Piza told CPJ.

On March 2, Guayaquil prosecutor Manuel Alvear Hernández ordered the national police to launch an investigation into the murder. The prosecutor asked Radio Minutera to provide audiotapes of the program to investigators. León’s wife and daughter received cell phone death threats after the killing.

In June, three men were accused in the killing, according to El Universo. In a report made public on October 27, local prosecutor Miriam Rosales Riofrío cited insufficient evidence in clearing two of the men. El Universo reported that the third man, Medardo Bone Bone, was held after two witnesses identified him as the gunman. No motive was immediately established.