In a concerning development highlighting the risks faced by journalists in Mexico, prosecutors announced on Thursday the abduction of three journalists and two of their relatives in Guerrero, a state known for its violence. The abductions occurred in Taxco, a popular tourist destination known for its colonial architecture and silver artisanry.
The Guerrero state prosecutors office stated that the abductions took place between Sunday and Wednesday. The first incident involved journalist Marco Antonio Toledo from The Afternoon Chronicle in Chilpancingo, along with his wife and adult son. Toledo, who had received threats from a drug cartel earlier this year, had reported on local corruption and a case involving a drug cartel that had instructed him not to publish a story.
Following Toledo’s abduction, journalists Silvia Nayssa Arce and Alberto Sánchez from the online news site RedSiete were kidnapped on Wednesday. RedSiete has yet to report on their colleagues’ abduction.
Taxco, once known for its cultural and artisanal significance, has in recent years become a battleground for drug cartels, notably the La Familia Michoacana cartel and the Tlacos gang. The city lies about 110 miles south of Mexico City.
This mass abduction is one of the largest attacks on reporters in Mexico since early 2012, when three news photographers were found dead in Veracruz. In June 2011, three journalists were killed or disappeared in the same city, with the Zetas drug cartel implicated in the killings.
Last week, a photographer in Ciudad Juarez was shot to death, marking the fifth journalist killed in Mexico in 2023. Over the past five years, at least 54 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In a related case, activist Adolfo Enríquez, known for documenting murders in Leon, Guanajuato, was himself killed. Leon has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico. Enríquez, who described himself as an activist for a law-abiding country, had been reporting the murders in Leon on social media. He was shot to death after leaving a restaurant, and his death is currently under investigation.
This incident adds to the growing number of crimes against activists in Mexico. Since 2021, six volunteer search activists who looked for disappeared relatives have been killed. In a notable 2011 case, blogger Maria Elizabeth Macías, who reported on drug cartel violence, was murdered in Tamaulipas.
Mexico has been identified as the deadliest place for environmental and land defense activists, with 54 killed in 2021, according to Global Witness. The recent abductions and killings underscore the extreme dangers faced by journalists and activists in the country.