José Luis Romero

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Línea Directa

Masked men kidnapped Romero as he entered a restaurant in Los Mochis about 6 p.m. on December 30, 2009, bundling the reporter into a waiting SUV, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Eliu Lorenzo Patiño, a former military officer who was accompanying Romero, was also abducted and remained missing.

The detective assigned to the abductions was himself murdered about six hours after the kidnappings were reported, Mexican press reports said. The state attorney general told reporters that the two cases might be connected, according to press reports.

On January 16, 2010, Romero's body was found along a rural road near Los Mochis, said Rolando Bon López, Sinaloa's assistant state prosecutor. The body had signs of torture; Romero had been shot and his hands had been broken, Bon López said.

Romero had covered the crime beat for the statewide radio broadcaster Línea Directa for 10 years, News Director Luis Alberto Díaz told CPJ. He said he believed Romero was the victim of one of two warring drug cartels. Díaz said murdering a well-known broadcaster fit into the cartels' intentions to intimidate the public. "They want to seed psychosis among the audience; they want to terrorize; they want to keep people's mouths shut," Díaz said. 

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