Martin Rojas, the leading suspect in the 8 April murder of La Opinión editor Raul Gibb Guerrero in the state of Veracruz, was arrested yesterday in the United States. The alleged head of a Veracruz gasoline contraband ring, Rojas was arrested on a money-laundering charge but investigators said he is also suspected of ordering Gibb’s murder.
26.04.05 - Local gang members tried to bribe newspaper editor a year before his murder
Members of a local crime organization called "Los Chupaductos" tried to bribe Raúl Gibb Guerrero, the editor of the regional daily La Opinión in the eastern state of Veracruz, a year before he was murdered on 8 April, according to the online newspaper Crónica. They allegedly went to his office and offered him money not to run a series of reports about gasoline smuggling in which they were implicated. The money offered came from the racket. Gibb did publish the reports.
The bribe attempt was discovered in the course of the federal justice ministry’s investigation into Gibb’s murder. As a result, Los Chupaductos leader Martin Rojas was detained as the prime suspect but his lawyers got him released on bail. Investigators are meanwhile also considering two alternative motives - that he was killed because of his coverage of drug trafficking or that he was killed at the behest of Julio Domínguez, the editor of the newspaper El Noroeste, who allegedly threatened him.
11.04.2005 - Gunmen slay newspaper editor in Veracruz state
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the murder of Raúl Gibb Guerrero, the editor of the regional daily La Opinión, on 8 April in Papantla, in the eastern state of Veracruz. The authorities reportedly suspect drug traffickers of being behind the killing.
"There have been three extremely serious acts of violence against the Mexican press in a week," the press freedom organization protested in a letter to the federal minister of justice.
"The disappearance of Alfredo Jiménez Mota, the editor of the daily El Imparcial in northwestern Sonora state, on 2 April, the attempt on the life of radio journalist Guadalupe García Escamilla of Estéreo 91 XHNOE in Nuevo Laredo in northeastern Tamaulipas state on 5 April, and Raúl Gibb Guerrero’s death now signal a further deterioration in the situation of journalists in Mexico," the letter said.
"The scourge of drug trafficking directly threats press freedom. It falls to the federal authorities to react to this nationwide menace by combatting organized crime and ensuring the media are protected. Too many local investigations have led nowhere, sustaining a climate of impunity that must not be allowed to continue," the letter concluded.
Gibb was gunned down at around 9:30 p.m. some 200 metres from his home, to which he was returning. He sustained seven bullet injuries, three in the head, three in the abdomen and one in the left arm. Police said the shots were fired from a distance of about two metres. According to witnesses, four men fired about 15 times from two cars that were following Gibb’s car, which ran off the road and crashed into the verge.
The killing bore the hallmarks of the work of contract killers. The Associated Press news agency quoted José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, the prosecutor in charge of the case, as saying he suspected a link with drug traffickers, who are very active in Veracruz state. La Opinión, which is sold in the north of the state, often has articles on the subject and had one the day before Gibb’s murder.
A year ago, the newspaper also reported on the theft and trafficking of fuel taken from the state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos. A local businessman subsequently had to stop operating and is now being prosecuted for tax evasion.
Despite all the enemies he had made as a result of his work, Gibb never asked for bodyguards. He is the first journalist to be killed this year in Mexico. Three were murdered last year.