5 arrested in killing of Mexican crime reporter

By ISTRA PACHECO, The Associated Press
8:00 p.m. June 12, 2009

MEXICO CITY — Five suspects have been arrested in the killing of a veteran crime reporter in northern Mexico, including one man who told authorities the journalist was slain as a warning against meddling with a powerful drug cartel, authorities said Friday.

Eliseo Barron was abducted May 25 by gunmen who barged into his home in Gomez Palacio, a town in the drug-plagued northern state of Durango, and beat the newspaper reporter in front of his wife and two daughters. His body was found the next day in an irrigation ditch.

One of the five suspects told investigators that he belonged to the Zetas, a group of hit men tied to the Gulf cartel, and that Barron was killed to warn other journalists against getting in the way of the gang, the Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

The agency said the suspect told authorities all five men abducted Barron from his home and drove him to another neighborhood. The suspect said he shot Barron first, and the gang's ringleader pumped several more bullets into him, the office said.

The office said soldiers arrested the five men Thursday in Durango, but did not give details on what led them to the suspects. They were found with six guns, a grenade, ammunition and drugs, it said.

The Attorney General's Office offered a $380,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Barron's killers, but said the arrest were not based on a tip.

Barron worked 11 years for the newspaper La Opinion de Torreon in the neighboring city of Torreon.

La Opinion's flagship paper, Milenio, said his last published article was about local police corruption. The city recently purged its force of 300 officers accused of corruption.

Several international media watchdog groups have named Mexico the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists, especially those covering drug trafficking.

The International Federation of Journalists said at least 10 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2008.

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