Journalists Johana García and Yessenia Mollinedo Falconi were getting into their car in a convenience store parking lot in Cosoleacaque, a town in the eastern state of Veracruz, when an unknown number of assailants approached and shot them at 4 p.m. on May 9, 2022, according to news reports, which cited eyewitnesses.
García was recently hired as a camera operator at El Veraz, a news outlet that covers southern Veracruz and was founded by Mollinedo, according to those reports. On May 9, the Veracruz state prosecutor’s office published a statement on Facebook confirming it had opened an investigation.
García was trained by Mollinedo and given a press card on May 4, Mollinedo’s brother Ramiro Mollinedo Falconi told CPJ by video call. CPJ could not confirm further information about García or her journalistic background before joining El Veraz.
Mollinedo previously covered crime and security for El Veraz but stopped doing so after receiving numerous death threats over the past few years, according to the journalist’s brother.
El Veraz was founded in 2015 and employed at least nine other reporters and editors at the time of the killings, Ramiro Mollinedo Falconi told CPJ, adding that the outlet’s website is no longer online due to financial difficulties.
At the time of Mollinedo’s and Garciá’s killing, the outlet’s Facebook page had 20,000 followers and had posted articles about events and press conferences presided by public officials from the Minatitlán area and protests against alleged abuses of power by local authorities. Most of the recent reports did not carry a byline.
On June 6, the office of the Veracruz state prosecutor (FGE) announced in a Facebook statement that a suspect, identified only as Armando N., alias “El Trascabo,” had been arrested in connection with the killings. According to the statement, the suspect was identified after authorities reviewed security camera footage of the attack.
The arrest of a second suspect, identified only as Víctor Manuel N., alias “El Calaco,” was announced on June 8, 2022, in another statement published by the FGE on Facebook. Neither statement provided further details about the suspects’ identities or motives.
The Veracruz State Commission for Attention to and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP), an autonomous institution of the Veracruz state government, did not respond to several requests for comment via messaging app as of June 13, 2022. CPJ’s several calls to the office of Veracruz state prosecutor Verónica Hernández were unanswered.