The family of Saúl Tijerina Rentería lost contact with him early in the morning of June 22, 2021, and his body was found near his vehicle in Ciudad Acuña, in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, later that morning with multiple stab wounds, according to news reports.
La Policiaca editor Aldahir Mendoza told CPJ in a phone interview that a source familiar with the investigation told him that a message had been found near Tijerina’s body, but said he had not been told what the message said.
Mendoza told CPJ that Tijerina had worked for La Policiaca for about six months, and provided drone footage of news events and occasionally standard camera photography. The editor of Noticias en la Web, who asked not to be named out of fear for their safety, told CPJ that Tijerina had provided similar services for that outlet for about 10 months.
Tijerina’s most recent work for Noticias en la Web included providing footage of the national earthquake simulation on June 21, according to the editor, who added that Tijerina recorded footage of “all kinds of news, including sports and crime and security.”
“His name never appeared on the website, he took footage and other reporters would get the byline for the stories,” the editor told CPJ. Both editors said that they were not aware of any threats to Tijerina’s life, and added that their outlets had not recently received threats.
The editors told CPJ that they had heard Tijerina had had “problems” with two of his coworkers at the factory, who they believed may have ties to a drug trafficking gang, but could not provide any further details.
In the days following the killing, Coahuila State Prosecutor Gerardo Márquez announced that authorities had apprehended two suspects, a 23-year-old identified as Lorenzo N., and 18-year-old Jordi Alejandro N., both allegedly members of a criminal gang. In a June 25 press conference, Márquez said that his office had not ruled out Tijerina’s media work as a possible motive, but that his office was also investigating whether Tijerina had a relationship with the gang.
CPJ repeatedly called the Coahuila state prosecutor’s office for comment, but no one answered.