Two out of three kidnapped Mexican journalists are released after hostage video was leaked online

Two Journalists kidnapped in a drug cartel stronghold in southern Mexico were freed, but the whereabouts of a third are unknown, authorities said on Thursday. Security forces found Jesus Pintor Alegre and Fernando Moreno Villegas in good health more than two weeks after their disappearance, Guerrero prosecutors said.

A rescue operation involving the military and National Guard is believed to have prompted the kidnappers to release the men, a statement said.

The search continues for Alan Garcia Aguilar, who works for the same news website and also disappeared on December 27 in an area controlled by the Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

In a video Posted days earlier on social media by unidentified people, Moreno and Garcia appeared hand and foot tied.

Moreno stated that they would “pay the consequences” for their reporting in the violent southern region.

Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist.

More than 150 journalists have been murdered in the North American country since 2000, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Last month, one of the country’s best-known TV hosts said he survived an apparent assassination attempt in Mexico City. Ciro Gomez Leyva said two people on a motorcycle shot him while he was traveling in his armored vehicle, but he was unharmed.

Police Chief Omar Garcia Harfuch said eleven people had been arrested in connection with the attack on a vehicle driven by the journalist.

The little-known gang behind the attack trafficked in murder, extorted money from businessmen and trafficked street-level drugs on the city’s rugged east side, officials said. Authorities did not explain why they believed such a small gang tried to kill one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists.

Gómez Leyva escaped shaken but unharmed – saved by the bulletproof armor of his SUV.

In raids and searches that led to the arrests, police found a cap with the letters CJNG, the initials of the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel, but Garcia Harfuch said that doesn’t necessarily mean the cartel was involved.

“It’s very common in Mexico City for criminal gangs to use names — Sinaloa cartel, Jalisco cartel — just to associate with them, without implying that they’re part of the cartels,” he said. “As with other arrests and searches, they have the initials of any number of cartels.”

A top lieutenant in the Jalisco cartel threatened another journalist in early 2022, the deadliest year for Mexican journalists and media workers in at least three decades at least 15 murders. Reporters Without Borders said at least 10 of the journalists were killed because of their work.

Growing public outrage in Mexico as journalists are targeted and killed


The Associated Press contributed to this report. Two out of three kidnapped Mexican journalists are released after hostage video was leaked online

Rick Schindler

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