Another Mexican journalist has been killed after he suffered a blow to the head while investigating a drug seizure and the recovery of stolen goods.
Juan Arjon Lopez, 62, is the latest of a string of journalist killings in the country, with at least 14 murdered so far this year.
The independent reporter was found in the northern border state of Sonora a week after going missing.
The body was identified by his tattoos in the town where he disappeared, San Luis Rio Colorado, showing ‘signs of violence’.
An autopsy showed he died from ‘head trauma due to a blunt blow’, the state Public Ministry said in a statement.
San Luis is across the border from Yuma, Arizona, and has long been known for medical and dentistry offices catering to Americans.
But the area has been hit by drug cartel violence in recent years.
In March, volunteer searchers found 11 bodies in clandestine burial pits in a stretch of desert near a garbage dump in San Luis.
‘He had a webpage (where) he covered security topics, he was known and recognized in San Luis,’ Balbina Flores of Reporters Without Borders told Reuters.
His final news reports on his Facebook page ‘What are you afraid of’ were about a drug seizure and the recovery of several stolen goods.
The state’s chief prosecutor, Claudia Contreras, said investigators would seek to determine if the killing was related to Lopez’s work as a journalist.
Human rights organization Article 19, which tracks murders of journalists, is looking into the case, a press representative said.
Mexico is the deadliest country in the world for journalists outside of warzones, according to Article 19, which has counted at least 34 media workers killed in relation to work since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018.
Earlier this month, journalist Ernesto Mendez was killed in the central state of Guanajuato in a store he owned.
While organized crime is often involved in journalist killings, small town officials or politicians with political or criminal motivations are often suspects as well. Journalists running small news outlets in Mexico’s interior are easy targets.
In May, Yessenia Mollinedo Falconi, director of the online news site El Veraz, and Sheila Garcia, a reporter for the site, were murdered outside a convenience store in the municipality of Cosoleacaque.
The murders of Falconi and Garcia came just four days after journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez Ramos was found dead, his battered body wrapped in black plastic, by a dirt road in the northern state of Sinaloa, the stronghold of notorious narco kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s cartel.
Prosecutors said Ramos, who was found by security forces near a junkyard in the state capital of Culiacan in Sinaloa, had died from multiple blows to the head.
Ramos had previously stated that he felt in ‘imminent danger’ for his reporting, even though he largely avoided covering the drug cartels for fear of retribution, sticking mostly to political reporting.
Before them, in March, the Monitor Michoacán director and reporter Armando Linares was shot dead by gunmen at his home in Zitacuaro, a city in the western state of Michoacán.
Linares’ murder came six weeks after his colleague Roberto Toledo, a camera operator and video editor at Monitor Michoacán, was shot to death as he prepared for an interview in Zitacuaro on January 31.
On March 4, gunmen killed Juan Carlos Muñiz, who covered crime for the online news site Testigo Minero in the state of Zacatecas.
Jorge Camero, the director of an online news site who was until recently a municipal worker in the northern state of Sonora, was murdered in late February.
In early February, Heber López, director of the online news site Noticias Web, was shot dead in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Reporter Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot dead inside her car in Tijuana on January 23, less than a week after crime photographer Margarito Martínez was gunned down outside his Tijuana home on January 17.
José Luis Gamboa was killed in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz on January 10.