3 arrested in shooting death of Tijuana journalist Lourdes Maldonado López

A person holds a candle and a photo of Lourdes Maldonado López.
A person holds a candle and a photo of Lourdes Maldonado López at a vigil protesting the slayings of Maldonado and another journalist, Margarito Martinez Esquivel, outside the federal prosecutors building in Tijuana on Jan. 25.
(Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images)

Three suspects were arrested Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of veteran Tijuana reporter Lourdes Maldonado López, authorities said.

Maldonado was killed in her car on Jan. 23 with a single gunshot to the face. She was the second journalist killed in a week’s time in the border city. On Jan. 17, Margarito Martínez Esquivel, who worked as a journalist and “fixer,” assisting media outlets including the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, was fatally shot outside his Tijuana home.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the arrests in his daily news conference Wednesday morning.


López Obrador said the arrests were the result of a joint investigation that included the federal government and Baja California state investigators. “We are obliged to ensure that there is justice in the country and that impunity is not allowed,” he said.

The three individuals were arrested Tuesday in Baja California. They were not identified. The group allegedly took a taxi to Maldonado’s neighborhood and lay in wait for three hours for the journalist to arrive home, according to Mexico’s subsecretary of public safety, Ricardo Mejía.

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Mejía called the suspects “presumed material co-authors,” but did not elaborate on the murder. He gave reporters a detailed account of the taxi’s movements, supported by video surveillance and photos, during the news conference. He did not mention any motive for the killing.

Rosa Icela Rodriguez, Mexico’s secretary of public safety, said the arrests and search warrants were issued in an investigation that involved the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Security, the Navy, the National Anti-Kidnapping Coordination agency and the National Intelligence Center.

At a local news conference later Wednesday morning, Baja California Atty. Gen. Ricardo Iván Carpio Sánchez said investigators may still be looking for other individuals. “It is not ruled out that there may be more [people] involved,” Carpio said.

Lourdes Maldonado López was shot to death Sunday night in Tijuana, becoming the second journalist killed there in less than a week.

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Maldonado’s death ignited a national movement condemning violence against the press. She had publicly requested protection from López Obrador due to a legal issue she had with a former governor of Baja California, Jaime Bonilla, who belongs to the same ruling National Regeneration Movement party as the president. In 2019, Maldonado told López Obrador “I fear for my life” at one of his daily press conferences.


Mexico is considered the deadliest country for the press outside of active war zones. Maldonado’s murder was one of at least four killings of journalists since the start of the year. There have been 148 reporters killed in Mexico since 2000, according to human rights group Article 19.