Ávila’s body, which showed signs of torture, was found on a
dirt road near the city of Guaymas, in the state of Sonora, according to the
state attorney general’s office. An autopsy revealed that he had been
strangled, news reports said. José Larrinaga Talamante, a spokesman for the
attorney general, told
reporters that a written message associated with organized crime had been
left with the body, but he did not reveal any details.
Armed men had abducted
Ávila on the afternoon of May 17 in the Sonoran town of Ciudad Obregón, about
65 miles from where his body was found, according to news reports. Larrinaga
said the journalist had been waiting for his car at a car wash when
unidentified men armed with rifles forced him into their vehicle, according to
Ávila covered crime for the local daily El
Regional de Sonora, and also wrote for the daily’s sister paper, El
Diario de Sonora, in the Sonoran city of Nogales, according to his
colleagues. Eduardo Flores, director of both papers, told
The Associated Press that Ávila wrote about drug trafficking but wasn’t allowed
to conduct in-depth reporting and had never even mentioned the cartels by name
in his stories. The director said Ávila had never mentioned receiving threats.
Ávila’s colleagues, who asked to remain anonymous for fear
of reprisal, told CPJ they were unaware of any reports of journalists being
threatened in that part of the state or of any being told by drug traffickers
to cut back on their coverage of organized crime groups. Local journalists told CPJ they couldn’t point to any particular story that would have angered criminal groups.
Flores said Ávila was married and had three children.