News photographer killed near U.S.-Mexico border

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO – Ismael Villagomez, a local news photographer working in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, was found shot to death. His untimely demise was reported by prosecutors on Thursday. The volatile city, battling against drug cartels and situated across the border from Texas city El Paso, was where Villagomez’s body was discovered in a car after midnight.

The Heraldo de Juarez, Villagomez’s employer, conveyed that he was found dead in a vehicle he had registered for ride-hailing work. Given low pay scales, it’s common for Mexican journalists to seek additional employment. It was also noted that Villagomez’s phone was absent from the scene of the crime.

With drug cartels vehemently trying to control Ciudad Juárez and the gang violence prevalent for nearly two decades, publishing photos of their activities or victims is often met with strong opposition.

Carlos Manuel Salas, a prosecutor for the northern border state of Chihuahua, shared that the authorities are looking into whether Villagomez was servicing a fare at the time or if his death was linked to his profession as a photographer.

The Committee to Protect Journalists urgently calls for an inquiry into Villagomez’s killing. This year, three other journalists have also been killed in Mexico, making it one of the most dangerous countries for journalists outside war-zones.

Statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists indicate that at least 52 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past five years. The year 2021 witnessed 15 journalists being killed in the country, making it the second deadliest place in the world for journalists, following Ukraine.