Blog post

Anabel Hernández's House Raided by Armed Gunmen

Jessica Turner 6 January 2014

The Knight Center reports that on December 21, 2013, a group of armed men stormed the home of Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández, author of this fall's Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers:

On Dec. 21, about a dozen individuals armed with AK-47 rifles and handguns shut off the street where Hernández lives, entering a number of other residences to ask for the journalist’s home. They de-activated the security cameras in the neighborhood, including those that were installed in Hernández’s house.

Hernández was not at home when the incident occurred.

The individuals, who at first identified themselves as agents of the Federal Police, and then as “Zetas,” briefly detained and punched one of the bodyguards assigned by Mexico City authorities to protect Hernández, who was in the journalist’s house at the time of the incident.

The reasons for the home invasion are unclear. The armed group was in the neighborhood for approximately a half hour; however, authorities did not respond to the incident.

Journalists from different organizations in a number of Mexican states and Spain signed a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto and other government officials criticizing the invasion and calling for its investigation.

“Journalists in the country are worried about the impunity of armed groups who roam freely, running roughshod over the rights of all Mexicans, and who mock authorities’ actions, particularly in a freedom of expression case like Anabel Hernández’s,” the writers of the letter said.

“We remind the authorities that impunity, derived from failing to investigate and punish acts of aggression against journalists, creates perfect conditions for the attacks to continue. It’s not just professional reporters who are in danger: society is also damaged. Each new act of violence jeopardizes society’s right to access and receive information.”

Hernández filed a complaint with the Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE, according to its Spanish acronym). The FEADLE opened a preliminary investigation (AP.179/FEADLE/2013) to ascertain if the incident is related to the other threats and intimidations that the journalist has experienced over the past three years.

Since the publication of her tell-all book, “Los Señores del Narco” (published in English as "Narcoland"),Hernández has been under the protection of Mexico City authorities. Hernández’s book details the roots of drug trafficking in Mexico and accuses officials, businessmen, and the higher echelons of the Federal Police of collusion with organized crime. On various occasions since publication, Hernández has received information that Genaro García Luna, the former head of the Federal Police during the last administration, tried to have the journalist killed. Hernández has accused García Luna of illegal enrichment and of ties to the Sinaloa Cartel.

On the Dec. 16, five days before the latest incident, Forbes Magazine listed García Luna as one of Mexico’s ten most corrupt people, and cited Hernández’s book as a source. That same day García Luna wrote directly to Steve Forbes, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, and said that “the value judgments that the article makes are lies and lack the magazine’s characteristic journalistic rigor since the source uses false arguments.”

Although the bodyguards provided by Mexico City’s District Attorney have accompanied Hernández 24 hours a day since 2010, her family was the target of an attack during a birthday party in 2011 and various of her sources have been threatened, killed or jailed. In March 2013 the journalist received renewed threats placing her at risk.

Hernández has criticized the Federal Government’s Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists for its inefficient protection and inability to respond during emergencies.

Visit the Knight Center's blog to read this article in full.

Filed under: latin-america