Rodolfo Rincón Taracena

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

54, was last seen leaving the newsroom around 8 p.m. He had just finished an
investigative article on a criminal gang targeting cash-machine customers in Villahermosa, capital of the southern Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

was considered a dogged and seasoned crime reporter. The day before he
vanished, the newspaper ran a two-page spread in which he described illicit “drugstores,”
narcotiendas, run by traffickers. The story,
which named several suspects, was accompanied by a map pinpointing the
distribution centers and a photograph showing a family allegedly selling drugs.
In his cash-machine story, Rincón specified where the criminals’ safe houses
were. “It was his typical exclusive,” Roberto Cuitláhuac, the paper’s crime
editor, told CPJ.

was used to getting threats, according to his longtime partner, Olivia Alaniz
Cornelio, but a threat he received a month before his disappearance seemed to
unnerve him. At the time, rival crime groups eager to control the state’s
strategic drug smuggling routes had begun resorting to beheadings and other
forms of horrific violence. 

March 1, 2010, Silvia Cuéllar, the spokesperson for the Tabasco state attorney general’s office,
told a press conference that Rincón had been kidnapped and killed by the Zetas
criminal group. Five low-level members allegedly confessed to the crime, with
the killer identified as a man who had died in a June 2007 gunfight with Tabasco police. The
authorities said the burned remains of a body found in 2007 belonged to Rincón,
although DNA tests were inconclusive.

suspects were charged with homicide and participation in organized criminal
activity. They were being detained as of June 2010 pending trial.

Tabasco Hoy journalists told CPJ that they
were very skeptical of the investigation, in part because of the inconclusive
DNA tests. Members of the
Tabasco Hoy staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, told CPJ
that they had received threats in response to their criticism of the probe.