Veracruz authorities said in a statement on July 2 that they found Mendoza’s body the day before on a highway in Veracruz and that the journalist’s body showed signs that he had been run over by a car.
Mendoza was the director and founder of the local news website Escribiendo la Verdad in Medellín de Bravo, according to news reports. He also worked as a taxi driver. Prior to that, he covered the crime beat for the local daily El Dictamen for more than a decade, news reports said. The journalist’s wife, Taide Griselda Pavón Moguel, told CPJ she last saw her husband on June 30 when he left for work in his taxi and that she reported him missing that day.
Mendoza’s wife and local press reports questioned state authorities’ version of Mendoza’s death. News accounts noted that Mendoza’s body was found far from his normal work route and that his taxi was still missing. Other local reports questioned why in some photographs from the crime scene his head appeared to be bandaged and called on authorities to provide more information on how his body was found. Other accounts citing the photographs said his body showed signs of abuse.
Mendoza had criticized local politicians and organized crime in his columns, titled “Why be quiet?,” on Escribiendo la Verdad, according to CPJ’s review of the website. One short article without a byline on the site’s homepage accuses a local politician of using a home owned by a member of the Zetas drug cartel for campaign purposes.
Mendoza’s wife told CPJ she was not aware if the journalist had received threats.