On the morning of May 5, 2021, Luis Enrique Ramírez’s body was found near a dirt road in the northwestern Mexican city of Culiacán, wrapped in black plastic and with severe head wounds, according to news reports, a statement by the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the case, and prosecutor Sara Bruna Quiñónez Estrada, from that office, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Ramírez, 59, was a political columnist for the Culiacán newspaper El Debate, a co-founder of the news website Fuentes Fidedignas, and a contributor to national outlets including La Jornada and El Financiero, according to an obituary published by Fuentes Fidedignas.
Quiñónez told CPJ that her office had opened an investigation into the killing and did not rule out any possible motive, including Ramírez’s work as a journalist.
She said her office was investigating witness reports that a group of people had forced Ramírez into a white vehicle after he left his home at about 3 a.m. on May 5. She added that Ramírez seemingly died of wounds to his head, and did not appear to have been tortured.
Quiñónez told CPJ that Ramírez had left the state in 2011 for several months due to unspecified threats, but was unable to provide further details, stating that she was not in office at the time and had no knowledge of the matter. She said her office was not aware of any recent threats against Ramírez’s life.
In his most recent publications for El Debate, Ramírez covered state and local politics in Sinaloa and Culiacán, including Governor Rubén Rocha, the mayors of Culiacán and Mazatlán, as well as all major political parties in the state congress.
As a columnist, he wrote critically about the politicians and parties he covered, including infighting in opposition party PAN and spats between officials.
Most of the articles published on Fuentes Fidedignas in the weeks before Ramírez’s death did not carry a byline, but included coverage of local politics, including press conferences and events held by public officials.
On July 6, 2022, Quiñonéz told media in Culiacán that her office had “solved” the crime and identified Ramírez’s killers, without providing further details, citing the ongoing investigation. On July 12, her office announced the arrest of a suspect identified as Brysia Carolina “N.”
According to comments Quiñonéz gave to local media on July 12, the suspect was arrested for tampering with evidence.
Quiñónez said that Ramírez’s abduction took place in front of the suspect’s residence in Culiacán, that “N” was the partner of one of the alleged killers, and that she falsely claimed that she had thrown away a cell phone that possibly contained evidence of the crime.
“N” was released on August 9 in anticipation of her trial, which started on August 16, according to news reports.
On July 14, 2022, Quiñonéz told newspaper El Debate that arrest warrants had been issued for two other suspects, including the partner of “N,” without providing further details. Quiñonéz’s spokesperson did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.