Unidentified assailants on June 14, 2017, shot and killed Luís Gustavo da Silva, a 25-year old blogger, outside his home in the northeastern Brazilian town of Aquiraz, according to local police.
Da Silva was walking his girlfriend to her house around 9:30 p.m. when two men jumped out from an abandoned lot, and warned the girlfriend to back off, Marcia Janine, the local police chief investigating the crime, told CPJ via phone.
The two men then shot da Silva seven times: once in the head, arm, and right thigh, and twice in the throat and back. Da Silva died immediately, according to Janine.
Police investigated the murder in the immediate aftermath; in October they reached a conclusion about the motive.
“We really believe he was killed because of the blog, because he denounced important traffickers and criminals from the area. We think it was retaliation,” Janine told CPJ.
Da Silva, who was better known by his nickname Gugu, wrote a popular blog called De Olho em Aquiraz (An Eye on Aquiraz), featuring news from the coastal town of about 80,000 people located in northeastern Brazil, about 1,325 miles from the capital, Brasília.
The blog comprised short items of salacious gossip, along with regional crime stories, and political and entertainment news from around Brazil, according to news reports.
Da Silva posted stories on his blog about local drug traffickers, Janine told CPJ.
The traffickers were angry with da Silva because of his work and his close relationship with local police, his brother Luiz Gabriel da Silva told CPJ. Da Silva said his brother would tip off police on drug trafficking and other criminal activities, and received information from the police on cases to publish online.
“The motivation perhaps came from the denouncements he published,” Luiz Gabriel da Silva told CPJ via telephone. “Our mother was hooked on crack and he could never accept that. So he hated to see the drug traffickers driving around in their big cars. He posted photos of them on his blog whenever they were arrested.”
Luís da Silva’s friendliness with Aquiraz’s previous mayor led him to a job in the town’s marketing department, his brother told CPJ. CPJ was unable to determine the precise nature of that work. Da Silva also hosted an afternoon radio show featuring about 90 minutes of music and news on a station funded by the mayor, his brother said. He left both positions in January 2017 when the mayor lost his bid for re-election.
In January 2016, da Silva filed a police report alleging an unnamed person in local politics had threatened him. Janine said it was unclear whether the threats were related to da Silva’s reporting.
“We never knew of threats, but we could feel that he was afraid,” Luiz Gabriel da Silva said of his brother. He said he believed the journalist had faced increased danger for several months but that he told family members not to worry about it.
On October 15, 2020, the Civil Police in Ceará arrested Patrick Ferreira, a 31-year-old man known as “Gordinho da Brós,” who police said was one of da Silva’s suspected killers and who had a criminal record including robbery, firearms possession, drug trafficking, and homicide, according to news reports.
In a public statement, the Ceará Public Security and Social Defense Secretary said that an investigation had concluded that da Silva was killed in retaliation for his reporting on local crime and police.
According to that statement, police requested Ferreira’s preventive arrest, which was granted by a local court on October 15. Authorities wrote that they were “implementing further steps to capture others involved.”
On October 27, 2020, the communications office of the Ceará state prosecutor responded to CPJ’s emailed request for comment saying that the case was confidential. CPJ could not find contact information for Ferreira.