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Mexican newspaper faces threats for its coverage of "El Chapo" Guzmán’s arrest

Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera. Source: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images.

News organization Grupo Editorial Noroeste, from the Mexican state of Sinaloa, demanded on Feb. 25 protection from federal agencies for journalists who were threatened for reporting stories on recently arrested drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, reported Noroeste.

On Feb. 23, reporters from the newspaper working in Mazatlán received two telephone threats warning them to not publish articles where they linked members of the municipal police to the security circle of drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, who was detained a day before in the same city. One of the newspaper’s photojournalists was also forced to erase photos taken at the site of the capture by members of the Mexican armed forces.

The group filed a request for protection before the Special Attorney’s office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), part of the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR). They previously had pleaded before the State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) who asked state authorities and those in Mazatlán and án to protect journalists and their rights.

Guzmán was captured on Saturday, Feb. 22, in a beach condominium during a surprise operation led by Mexican security forces with the help of agents from the United States, CNN reported. The arrest did not result in bloodshed and was considered a victory against drug trafficking. U.S. officials are now requesting to Guzmán extradited to their country to prevent him from escaping, like he did in 2001. However, Mexican authorities have stated that Guzmán will face trial in their country first.

National and international coverage of the arrest

The Associated Press (AP) was the first to report on the drug lord's capture, ahead of the Mexican government and Mexican media, according to Americas Program. It was not until hours later after the AP broke the story -- around 10 a.m. -- that the Mexican government reported Guzmán had been transported to Mexico City.

Press coverage in Mexico was different from previous high-profile drug trafficker arrests, which they treated as turning points for the Drug War. This time the media celebrated the arrest and the operation itself, but remained skeptical about its long-term impact.

Meanwhile, according to political analyst Carlos Rajo, U.S. media covered the event at length because Guzmán was considered a threat to the country’s national security, reported Radio Formula. The news was also in the front pages of international media, who emphasized he was the most wanted drug lord in the world, as shown by Milenio.

Carlos Spector, an immigration attorney in El Paso, Texas, told the Texas Observer that U.S. media portrayed Guzmán’s capture too simplistically, treating the Sinaloa Cartel like an economic corporation rather than an organization bound by personal relationships and loyalty. For Spector, this means the arrest will likely lead to shifts in alliances between cartels and groups in Mexico, which could result in considerable violence and ultimately have little effect on the production and distribution of drugs.

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