Noel López Olguín

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

López, a columnist for the
newspaper La Verdad de Jáltipan in the state of Veracruz, was kidnapped on March 8 by gunmen
in two SUVs, local authorities told CPJ. On May 31, his body was found buried
in a clandestine grave in the city of Chinameca,
according to local news reports.

The discovery was made after the
Mexican army arrested a reputed gang leader who gave a statement confessing to the
killing, news reports said. According to a local investigator cited by The
Associated Press, the journalist died from a blow to the head.

Family members told CPJ that
López had a long career working as a columnist for La
Verdad de Jáltipan
, and also as a stringer and photographer for several
papers in the state of Veracruz,
including the weeklies Noticias de Acayucan, El Horizonte, and Noticias de Veracruz.

López wrote a column titled “Con
pluma de plomo” (With a Lead Pen) in which he frequently and aggressively
reported on local drug trafficking and official corruption, according to press
reports. López identified drug kingpins by name, a practice that is generally
off-limits in areas of Mexico where organized crime is prevalent.

Two weeks before he was seized,
two La Verdad de Jáltipan executives were held captive for several hours,
according to local press reports. Journalists in Jáltipan and the nearby town
of Acayucan
have since limited their crime coverage, sources told CPJ.

Out of fear of reprisal, some
media outlets distanced themselves from López after he was kidnapped, denying
to CPJ that he’d ever worked for them or saying he’d only occasionally
contributed a long time ago. But the head of the state Commission for the
Defense of Journalists, Gerardo Perdomo, said López wrote regular stories and
columns that sharply criticized local corruption.