Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Macías' decapitated body was found on a road near the city of Nuevo Laredo, news reports said. A note found with the journalist's body said she had been killed for writing on social media websites and attributed the murder to a criminal group, news reports said. Her murder was the first ever documented by CPJ worldwide that was in direct relation to journalism published on social media.

Sources told CPJ that Macías, 39, reported the activities of criminal groups on Twitter and on the website Nuevo Laredo en vivo (Nuevo Laredo Live) under the pseudonym "La NenaDLaredo" (The girl from Laredo). The note found with her body identified the website and the pseudonym; headphones and a keyboard were placed next to her head. It was not immediately clear whether a particular story or Macías' uncensored reporting in general angered the killers. It was also unclear how the killers discovered her identity.

In northern Mexico, as in other parts of the country, organized crime groups have terrorized the local press into silence, leading citizens to begin reporting criminal activities on websites and social media, either anonymously or using pen names. Professional journalists told CPJ that they, too, reported stories under pseudonyms on social media websites that they couldn't cover under their own names through their traditional outlets. Facebook, Twitter, and other such websites were filling the void in covering crime and drug violence, CPJ research showed.

Sources told CPJ that Macías had reporting and administrative responsibilities for the local daily Primera Hora, although the newspaper would not confirm her employment status.

Mexican criminal groups began targeting social media users in 2011. On September 13, the bodies of two young people, who were not identified, were hung from a pedestrian overpass in Nuevo Laredo. Press accounts said notes left with the bodies warned against writing on websites.

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