Miroslava Breach Velducea, a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada from the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, was murdered on the morning of March 23, 2017, in the eponymous state capital.
An unknown assailant shot Breach, 54, eight times as she was leaving home in her car, accompanied by one of her three children, shortly after 7 a.m., according to press reports. The child was not injured, but Breach died while being transported to the hospital.
Breach covered, among other subjects, politics, crime, and the intersection of the two. Since January 2017 she had also headed her own news agency, MIR, and had long been a contributor to the Chihuahua news website Norte, which announced after her murder that it was closing.
La Jornada reported that a note was found at the scene of the murder that read: "For being a snitch. You’re next, governor.–The 80." Police say The 80 is Arturo Quintana, who allegedly leads a criminal gang associated with the organized crime syndicate known as La Línea, which operates in the Western half of the state, according to news reports.
On March 4, 2016, Breach reported on alleged links between organized crime and mayoral candidates in several small towns in the mountainous region of western Chihuahua. The story mentioned "The 80" as supporting candidates for mayor in at least two towns, including the alleged gang leader’s mother-in-law. According to one journalist who knew the victim well and who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Breach had received threats on at least three occasions for her reporting alleging links between politicians and alleged organized crime figures.
Nahum Pedro Zárate, deputy general director of the federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) told CPJ on the day of the murder that a federal investigation had begun. César Augusto Peniche Espejel, Chihuahua’s state attorney general, told CPJ during a visit to Chihuahua on April 4 that the victim’s work as a journalist has not been discarded as a possible motive. He said he could not provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation.
The governor of Chihuahua, Javier Corral Jurado, said that Breach had told him about threats she had received two years ago, when he was a senator, but that she had not told him about any more recent threats, according to the news website Sin Embargo. The Free Journalism Network of Chihuahua issued a statement saying that Breach met with officials from the Federal Mechanism for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders in October 2016 and had told them then that she had been threatened for her work.
Chihuahua Attorney General César Augusto Peniche on March 30 said that two suspects had been identified in the shooting, according to La Jornada. Peniche said that Breach was killed because her reporting affected the interests of organized crime, the newspaper reported.