07/10/12 – The newspaper “El Norte” suffered two attacks today, one in the early hours of the morning at their office in the suburb Torremolinos, Monterrey, and the second in the afternoon in Guadalupe, Nuevo León. No one was injured in either attack, but there was significant property damage at both ocations. The early morning attack was confined to a single grenade lobbed into the building’s garden by a solitary man, according to witnesses. The attack this afternoon escalated the level of force and was comprised of an assault by both grenades and heavy weapons. Early reports suggest the building was fired upon by AR-15 rifles. Both the local police and the Mexican Army are investigating the cases, and sources close to the investigation have drawn links to organized crime as the perpetrators given the use of such high powered weapons. If this proves to be the case, such attacks would likely have been intended to drive the El Norte’s staff to self-censor its reporting on criminal activities and organized crime in the area.
This not the first time El Norte has been attacked by members of organized crime groups. In 2010 and 2011, the agency experienced similar incidents of violence against their offices. Today’s attacks are part of a larger trend of violence directed at media outlets in retailation for reporting on organized crime activities. As the Transborder Institute reported earlier this month, the high level of murders of Mexican journalists in 2012 has prompted Mexican government officials to suggest amending the Mexican consitution to establish create a Commission to Protect Journalists. 95 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 and there has been a recent spike in deaths since April 2012 (for more information, see previous TBI articles by clicking here and here). Organized crime has even expanded their targeting to include citizens who report on incidents of organized crime via social media, which has become an unofficial resource for many citizens when official media sources become compromised by threats.