A former police officer in Mexico’s Veracruz state has confessed to killing a journalist at the behest of a local mayor, which if true would add to a growing list of brazen acts of corruption at the municipal level.
On January 25, a state prosecutor in Veracruz announced that former police officer Clemente Noe Rodriguez Martinez had admitted to killing the reporter Moises Sanchez on orders from Martin Lopez Meneses, the deputy director of the municipal police force in the town of Medellin de Bravo, reported Milenio. Meneses allegedly received instructions to carry out the murder from town mayor Omar Cruz.
Authorities found the body of Sanchez -- who was taken from his home by a group of armed men in early January -- on January 24. According to Rodriguez, Sanchez's body was decapitated and mutilated before being thrown in a ditch, reported the Associated Press.
Sanchez's relatives told the Associated Press the journalist had previously received threats for his reporting on government corruption and violence in the area.
Rodriguez identified five other former police officers who he said were involved in the murder, and Cruz is currently under investigation for his alleged connection to the case.
InSight Crime Analysis
The alleged killing of a journalist on orders from a local mayor comes at an inopportune time for the Mexican government, which is facing mounting skepticism over the official version of the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero state last September. One investigative report found that officials may have used torture to obtain testimony from the suspected perpetrators of the massacre, while new forensic evidence refuted the official account of what happened to the students' bodies.
The case of the missing students has received considerable national and international attention in part due to the alleged involvement of a local mayor and police officers, but Sanchez's murder is a reminder that corruption among municipal government officials is widespread throughout Mexico. Several mayors in the turbulent state of Michoacan have been linked to the criminal group the Knights Templar within the last year alone. One top Mexican official recently stated that three out of every four municipalities in the country were susceptible to infiltration by organized crime.
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The Sanchez case also highlights the risks faced by journalists who report on corruption and crime, both in Veracruz and across the country. Sanchez's murder marks the eleventh death of a journalist in Veracruz since December 2010, and Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist in Latin America.