Mexican journalist says he was abducted, beaten and questioned by armed men about his reporting

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A prominent journalist who went missing this week in western Mexico said Wednesday he was abducted, beaten and questioned by an armed gang about his reporting before being let go with a warning to tone down his journalism.

Authorities confirmed that radio and television anchor Jaime Barrera, who has written about drug cartel violence, was found alive and well Wednesday. Barrera vanished Monday after leaving a radio station where he worked in the city of Guadalajara. He said he had barely gotten in his car when five men surrounded him with guns drawn.

In interviews with the Radio Formula station, Barrera described how his captors bundled him into a vehicle, blindfolded him and took him somewhere.

He said they tied his hands, forced him to kneel and hit him with a board. They asked why he wrote the way he did and whose orders he was acting on.

Barrera said they wanted to intimidate him, but did not say which cartel or group was involved. Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is located, is home to the cartel of the same name.

On Feb. 16, less than a month before his abduction, Barrera wrote a column in the local newspaper El Informador describing the violence caused by the leader of the Jalisco Cartel, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, and noting that the federal government no longer appeared to be trying to capture him.

“They made me kneel on the floor, totally at their mercy,” Barrera told Radio Formula. “They hit me with a board.”

He gave few details about his captors, but quoted them as asking “why I wrote what I wrote” and “who had ordered me to write that.”

Barrera did not elaborate on which reports the assailants were referring to.

He said they threatened him and his family.

“If I didn't agree to things, if I didn't tone it down, they (said) they knew where I lived, who my children were,” he said.

Barrera's case gained national attention in part because his daughter, Itzul Barrera, sits on the leadership council of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ’s Morena party.

Mexico is one of the deadliest places in the world for reporters outside of war zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the killings of at least 55 journalists in Mexico since 2018, when López Obrador took office.

Drug cartels in Mexico have kidnapped and killed journalists in the past for reporting on violence that the gangs want to keep quiet.

Late Tuesday, officials announced they had found two federal investigators after they went missing in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero while investigating the disappearances of 43 students almost 10 years ago.

Officials did not say how the man and woman were found or whether they had been freed from captivity.

Guerrero has been the scene of turf battles between several drug cartels.


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