Masked men claiming to represent Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel have taken the unusual step of circulating a video threatening to kill a national television news anchor for what they viewed as unfair coverage.
The video circulated Monday showed masked and heavily armed men surrounding a man seated at a small desk who delivered a message he said was from Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, aka “El Mencho,” leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel. It was unclear if the person reading the message was Oseguera himself.
The message complained that Milenio Television, a national cable news channel associated with a major newspaper chain, was favoring so-called self-defense groups that are battling the Jalisco cartel in Michoacán state.
He singled out Mileno anchor Azucena Uresti, threatening to kill her and make her eat her words.
The man alleged that the vigilante groups were actually drug traffickers, the only organizations that could afford the armament those forces had at their disposal.
The message mentioned Hipolito Mora, who organized a self-defense force in Michoacan nearly a decade earlier, but who more recently has distanced himself from such groups, as well as Los Viagras, a criminal group operating in the state.
The Jalisco cartel representative said in the message that he did not want to inhibit freedom of expression, but just wanted the coverage to be even.
Milenio Television and Uresti did not immediately comment on the threat.
Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez Cuevas said via Twitter that the Mexican government “will take the necessary measures to protect threatened journalists and news outlets”.
Threats against journalists are not empty talk in Mexico. The Committee to Protect Journalists considers Mexico the deadliest country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists.
Those most often targeted are local reporters operating in regions where rival crime groups are fighting for control. The CJNG video represented a rare overt threat against a national journalist.
The Jalisco cartel has also shown itself to have nearly unlimited reach within Mexico. In June last year, cartel gunmen carried out a brazen attack in Mexico City that left the police chief seriously wounded and killed three others.