Mexico: Suspect in murder of journalist Javier Valdez arrested

Authorities announce the arrest of a suspect over the killing of prominent crime journalist Javier Valdez.

A screen displays the photo of the alleged murderer of journalist Javier Valdez during a news conference at Mexico''s Interior Ministry building in Mexico City
Mexican authorities have been urged to identify all those responsible for Valdez's killing [File: Reuters]

Mexican police have detained a suspect in the murder of an internationally acclaimed journalist who reported on the country’s drug trade and organised crime.

Javier Valdez was shot in May 2017 in broad daylight outside the offices of his publication, Riodoce, in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.

On Monday, the weekly newspaper co-founded by Valdez reported that authorities had arrested 26 year-old male, Heriberto “N”, whose alias is Koala.

Riodoce also said that Heriberto “N” was arrested in Tijuana, in the northern-state of Baja California, whilst driving the car used by the gunman in Valdez’s killing.

Heriberto “N” was also described as being “tied to organised crime” by Riodoce.

Alfonso Prida, secretary of the interior, took to Twitter to congratulate the state forces for the arrest.

He said that federal agents in a joint operation had arrested the “presumed (person) responsible for the killing,” but provided no details.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexican representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ), described the arrest as a “welcome step”.

In a statement, he also urged “the Mexican authorities to identify all those responsible for the killing, including the mastermind”.

“Too often, investigations into the murders of Mexican journalists stall after low-level suspects have beenarrested, which allows impunity to thrive,” said Hootsen.

“If they can demonstrate that this is really the killer … we’ll need to know why he did it, what the motive was and who gave the order,” Valdez’s widow, Griselda told AFP news agency.

In 2011, the New York-based CPJ recognised Valdez’s work by presenting him the the Freedom of Expression Award. 

In March 2018, the United Nations and AFP launched a new award to recognise journalists who lost their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico.

Since 2000, more than 100 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, which was considered the most dangerous place to be a journalist in 2017 – ahead of Iraq and Syria – with 14 deaths, according to the International Press Institute.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies