Valentín Valdés Espinosa

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Valdés, 29, a general assignment reporter for the newspaper Zócalo de Saltillo, was abducted in downtown Saltillo after several men in two SUVs intercepted the vehicle in which he was riding with two colleagues. One reporter, who was not identified, was abducted with Valdés but was later freed. The third colleague was not forced into the vehicle.

The next morning, the Coahuila attorney general’s office announced that Valdés’ body had been found in front of the local Motel Marbella. He had been shot several times, his arms and legs had been bound, and his body showed evidence of torture. A handwritten message found alongside his body read: “This is going to happen to those who don’t understand. The message is for everyone.”

The state attorney general’s office told local reporters that an organized criminal group was behind the murder. Local reporters told CPJ that Valdés was most likely targeted because of a December 29, 2009, story about military raids at the Motel Marbella. The story, which ran without bylines, identified a leader of the Zetas criminal group as being arrested in one of the raids. Information about the cartel leader’s capture was reported by Valdés, CPJ sources said. It was considered a message from the cartel that the reporter’s body was left at the motel.

The newspaper did not press authorities for a thorough investigation, its editor, Sergio Cisneros, acknowledged. “We are not going to get mixed up in it,” he told CPJ. “I don’t believe there will be results, so why push?” Cisneros said investigators did not search the newsroom or Valdés’ computer.