At approximately 2:45 a.m., U.S. Border Patrol agents found the body of Pineda, a reporter and photographer for the Mexican newspaper La Opinión, in Los Indios, just outside Harlingen, Texas.
The agents had watched two people cross the Rio Grande carrying a bundle wrapped in a white sheet, which they deposited on the U.S. bank of the river. When no one came to retrieve the bundle, the officers investigated and found Pineda’s body. According to news reports, the journalist had been shot in the back of the head with a 9 mm pistol.
One of Pineda’s colleagues told CPJ that the 38-year-old journalist covered the police beat and had also written on drug trafficking in the region. In December 1999, Pineda survived an assassination attempt near his home. The gunman was never caught, although Pineda filed a complaint with the local police. He had worked for La Opinión, published in the border city of Matamoros, for eight months prior to his death.
CPJ circulated an alert about Pineda’s murder on April 13. Subsequently, local press reports hinted that the journalist had been involved in the local drug trade, although one CPJ source suggested that drug traffickers might have spread this rumor to discredit Pineda. The murder investigation remained stalled at year’s end.