Photojournalist Killed in Mexico Near Border

Photojournalist Killed in Mexico Near Border

( – Prosecutors stated Thursday, November 16, that a newspaper photojournalist in Ciudad Juarez was shot and killed. The lifeless body of photographer Ismael Villagómez was discovered in a vehicle’s driver’s seat in the violent city across from El Paso, Texas.

Almost two decades of drug cartel territory wars have dominated Ciudad Juarez, and gangs typically object to images of the cartel or operations being made public. The Heraldo de Juarez reported that Villagómez was discovered dead in a ride-hailing app automobile he had registered for business. Mexican journalists often work two jobs due to poor pay. His phone was missing, according to the publication.

Chihuahua prosecutor Carlos Manuel Salas said officials are examining if Villagómez was driving a customer or if his photojournalism was involved in the death.

Villagómez’s death occurred on the very day that the Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Mexican journalist María Teresa Montaño the 2023 International Press Freedom Award. A report shows that Montaño, a freelance investigative writer, was kidnapped and threatened by three men in 2021 while boarding a public bus. Men seized Montaño when she was investigating corruption among state officials, stealing notes and papers related to the inquiry.

The Committee to Protect Journalists demanded an investigation into the murder.

Five journalists have been murdered already in Mexico in 2023. Among them was reporter Jesús Gutiérrez, who managed a community Facebook media page. Gutiérrez was slain in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, in September during a police-targeted assault. Sonora prosecutors claimed Gutiérrez was chatting with his neighbors, the police officers, when a hail of bullets killed one and wounded three. They called Gutiérrez’s death collateral damage.

Another journalist and former municipal politician was fatally wounded in downtown Puebla in May. Tehuacan resident Marco Aurelio Ramirez (69) was slain in broad daylight, leaving his house. He worked for several media outlets for decades.

Mexico, one of the deadliest countries for journalists outside combat zones, has counted at least two more journalists this year. In the last five years, the CPJ reported the slaying of at least 52 journalists in Mexico, according to The Guardian.

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