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  HOME | Mexico

Journalist Reported Missing in Southwestern Mexico

MEXICO CITY – A Mexican journalist in the southwestern city of Zamora has been missing for a week, according to her employer, the newspaper Cambio de Michoacan.

“Thursday marked nine days since journalist Maria Esther Aguilar Cansimbe disappeared from her home at a residential complex on the north side of the city, without her family thus far knowing anything about her whereabouts,” the daily said in its online edition.

It added that the only information known thus far is that on Nov. 11 “the journalist, who specialized in crime reporting, received a telephone call on her mobile; she left her home and nothing has been known of her since.”

A spokesman for the daily, Raul Lopez Tellez, told Efe that Aguilar is a correspondent for Cambio de Michoacan in the city of Zamora and that the journalist’s relatives initially decided not to report her missing while they waited for a phone call informing them about her situation.

After days went by with no news, her family decided to go to the authorities and officially report her as missing.

Her husband, Lopez Tellez said, has not yet received any message about the reporter’s whereabouts and there are still no clues as to the motive for her disappearance.

Michoacan is one of the country’s most violent states and is home to several drug cartels, among them La Familia Michoacana, which has become notorious for its brazen attacks against federal forces that have sought to crack down on their operations.

Some 50 journalists have been killed over the past decade in Mexico, including 10 this year.

Several of these reporters worked the crime beat at their publications, although Mexico’s special prosecutor’s office for crimes against journalists says that most of these homicides were not related to the victim’s occupation.

Mexico has been in the grips of a drug-fueled crime wave for the past several years. About 15,000 people have been murdered since the start of 2006 as powerful cartels battle each other and the security forces in a scramble for smuggling and distribution routes.

The drug mobs are known for intimidating or attacking journalists who report on their activities.

Separately, prosecutors in the Mexican state of Durango on Thursday announced the arrest of an attorney and businessman suspected in last month’s killing of a police press officer.

The head of the Durango Attorney General’s Office, Daniel Agustin Garcia Leal, told the media that the murder of Gerardo Esparza Mata was apparently a crime of passion and had nothing to do with the victim’s occupation.

The suspect had apparently had a romantic relationship with a woman who left him and became involved with Esparza Mata and the man’s jealousy may have triggered the murder.

Esparza Mata was found with a gunshot wound to the head on the morning of Oct. 10.

According to witnesses, the suspect apparently kidnapped Esparza Mata and took him away in a vehicle. Tire tracks found near the spot where Esparza Mata’s body was found were determined to be from the suspect’s automobile.

Esparza Mata worked in the press office of the police force in Durango city and was responsible for preparing press releases on police operations and taking photographs of detainees. EFE

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