one of the murderers of AFP collaborating journalist Javier Valdez found guilty

Tribute to murdered Mexican journalist Javier Valdez, in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on the first anniversary of his death on May 15, 2018

© rashide cold
Tribute to murdered Mexican journalist Javier Valdez, in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on the first anniversary of his death on May 15, 2018

One of the assassins of Mexican journalist collaborating with Agence France-Presse Javier Valdez was found guilty on Tuesday of this crime, committed in May 2017, announced the prosecution.

A judge “rendered a decision condemning Juan Francisco P. for his criminal responsibility as a material co-author of the homicide,” the prosecution said in a statement.

The sentence, which could carry up to 50 years in prison, will be made public later. The accused, who had been offered a 21-year prison sentence by the prosecution if he cooperated with the investigation and appointed the sponsor of the murder, never admitted the facts.

This is Juan Francisco Picos Berrueta, alias “el Quillo”. According to the prosecution, he is one of the two individuals who shot the journalist as well as “the one who organized the plan for the execution”. The other alleged shooter, Luis Ildefonso Sanchez, has since died.

An accomplice in the murder, Heriberto Picos Barraza, alias “el Koala”, was sentenced in February 2020 to 14 years and 8 months in prison for having served as a driver for the killers.

Griselda Triana, widow of the murdered journalist, told the press that the family was satisfied with the judgment but that justice still had to be done, for lack of judgment against the person who ordered the murder.

Javier Valdez, co-founder of the weekly Riodoce and contributor to the daily La Jornada and AFP, was hailed for his investigations into drug trafficking.

The journalist’s family is convinced that the assassination was ordered by Damaso Lopez Serrano, a drug trafficker furious at having been criticized in an article in Riodoce, and now imprisoned in the United States.

He had been killed leaving his office in Culiacan (north-west), after investigations into the influence in his native region of drug trafficking networks like that of El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman), who is now serving a life sentence in the United States.

The murder of Mr. Valdez had sparked a wave of international indignation.

A journalism award bearing his name, the Breach / Valdes Prize is awarded in Mexico to recognize investigative work on human rights. It is sponsored by AFP and organized by the United Nations and the embassies in Mexico of France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.

axm / jla / lda / roc / ob

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