16 February 1998


Blancornelas investigation continues

Incident details

Jesus Blancornelas



(CPJ/IFEX) - Following is the full text of a letter sent by CPJ, IAPA, PEN
American Center, and RSF to Jorge Madrazo, the Attorney General of Mexico:

"On November 27 1998, Jesus Blancornelas, co-editor of the weekly "Zeta",
was attacked at 9:30 in Tijuana at the corner of Chula Vista and San
Francisco streets. Two cars, holding between six and ten gunmen, opened fire
on Blancornelas' red Ford Explorer. Blancornelas was hit four times, but
survived. His bodyguard, Luis Lauro Valero, died at the scene. One of the
gunmen, who was struck in the eye by a bullet fragment, was also killed. As
your office has made public, his name was David (Charlie) Barron Corona,
alias C.H. A week prior to the attack, Blancornelas published an article in
"Zeta" in which he reported that C.H. was the alleged gunman in the killing
of two Mexican soldiers on 14 November.=20

"According to an account published in "Twilight on the Line" by Los Angeles
Times reporter Sebastian Rotella, Barron was in charge of security and
combat operations for the Tijuana cartel and reported directly to Ramon
Arellano, one of its leaders. Barron grew up in San Diego where he was a
member of the 30th Street Gang in Barrio Logan (Logan Heights). He was
convicted of murder at 16, served time for various offenses in California
state prisons, and joined the "Mexican Mafia," a U.S.-based prison gang
that distributes heroin and cocaine in the United States.=20

"Around 1987, Barron was recruited by the Arellano brothers. After Barron
saved Ramon and Benjamin Arellano from an attack by the members of the rival
Sinaloa cartel in a disco, he was made their head of security and given a
mansion in Tijuana. When Barron was asked to recruit new gunmen for the
cartel, he turned to his friend Alfredo (Popeye) Araujo who was also from
Barrio Logan. Araujo offered recruits from San Diego $500 a week, plus food
and lodging in Tijuana. Soon Barron had assembled a hit squad of U.S. gang
members who avoided detection by moving back and forth across the border.
They worked in coordination with corrupt members of the federal and judicial
state police.

"According to information provided by your office, and reported in "Zeta",
Barron's team participated along with another squad led by Fabian Martinez,
alias El Tiburon, in the attack on Blancornelas. Martinez reportedly
recruited "narcojuniors," the children of the Tijuana elite, to serve as
gunmen. In the coordinated attack on Blancornelas, it was Martinez's job to
fire at the driver's side of the vehicle and Barron's job to kill the
editor. It was only because Barron was hit in the crossfire that
Blancornelas survived.

"Because of the possibility that U.S. law enforcement agencies may have
information that could be helpful in this investigation, CPJ sent a letter
to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno on 4 December calling on her to ensure
the full cooperation of U.S. authorities. CPJ has received assurances from
U.S. officials that the attack on Blancornelas is being investigated in the
United States and that information is being shared with Mexican authorities.
We, the undersigned
organizations, would like to take this opportunity to express our desire to
see the cooperation continue.

"We are calling on your office to devote special attention and resources to
following up on the known leads in order to apprehend those responsible for
this crime. We support President Zedillo's decision to assign the
investigation to the federal authorities since, under the Mexican
Constitution, violence carried out against a journalist in reprisal for his
or her work constitutes a federal offense. (Article 6: "el derecho a la
informaciOn ser=E1 garantizado por el estado.")

"As organizations that defend freedom of expression around the world, we are
gravely concerned that the attack on Blancornelas could have a chilling
effect on all of the Mexican press. As you know, three journalists were
murdered in Mexico in 1997 in the line of duty, the highest number in a=

"For more than a decade "Zeta" has been an example to Mexican journalists
with a passion for the truth. But the cost for exposing corruption has been
extraordinarily high. In 1988, "Zeta" co-founder and co-editor Hector "El
Gato" F=E9lix was murdered in his car as he was leaving his home.=20

"Because Blancornelas is so widely admired by journalists on both sides of
the border, the attack on his life sends a clear message to the many who
hope to follow in his footsteps. For this reason, we join with our Mexican
colleagues on calling on you to commit the full resources of your office in
order to ensure a complete and thorough investigation.

Appeals To

His Excellency Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon
President of the Republic of Mexico
Official Residence
Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec
C.P. 11850 Mexico D.F.
Fax: +525 271 1764 / 515 1794 / 277 2376=20

Jorge Madrazo
Attorney General (federal)
Reforma y Jaime Nuno
Box 06300
Mexico, D.F., Mexico
Fax: +525 625 7642 / 626 4478 / 626 4430

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.


Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@) cpj.org
Fax:+1 212 465 9568
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