News photographer brutally killed near the U.S. border

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO – A man identified as a member of the press has been tragically cut down in Ciudad Juarez, a city by the US-Mexican border. The victim, Ismael Villagómez, was known for his photography work for a local newspaper, the Heraldo de Juarez.

The local authorities declared that Villagómez’s life was abruptly ended by gunfire, with his body discovered inside a car. The Heraldo de Juarez reported that Villagómez’s vehicle was registered for work use for a ride-hailing app, a common situation for local journalists who struggle with low salaries.

The international press freedom organization, Article 19, reported on Twitter that Villagómez’s death occurred around 1.30 a.m. on Thursday. His phone is currently missing from the scene.

Controlled by drug cartels for close to two decades, Ciudad Juarez is no stranger to violent incidents, often tied to photographs of the cartel’s victims or operations being circulated.

The State Prosecutor for the northern border state of Chihuahua, Carlos Manuel Salas, confirmed that an investigation is undergoing to determine if Villagómez’s homicide is linked either to his ride-hailing job or his photography work.

Mexico, despite not being a warzone, is notoriously dangerous for media figures. The murder of Villagómez marks the fifth case of a journalist killed in 2023, resulting in an urgent call for action from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In only the last five years, the Committee has cataloged the killings of a staggering 52 journalists in Mexico. Last year, considered the deadliest for Mexican press, recorded 15 deaths among local journalists, falling behind only Ukraine as the most perilous country for media.