January 16, 2010 / 8:19 PM / 8 years ago

Mexican crime reporter killed in apparent drug hit

CULIACAN, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexican police said on Saturday they found the body of a crime reporter abducted last month by apparent drug traffickers, the third murder of a journalist in recent weeks.

The remains of radio journalist Jose Luis Romero were discovered wrapped in plastic near the city of Los Mochis in the western state of Sinaloa, a hotspot in Mexico’s drug war.

The latest victim in an upsurge of attacks on the media, Romero was kidnapped on December 30 at a seafood restaurant. His hands and a leg were broken before he was shot to death, police said.

Across Mexico, a war between rival cartels for control of the multibillion dollar drug trade has killed 17,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched his anti-drug campaign at the end of 2006.

Attacks on the media have mounted as drug gangs seek to silence journalists who report on the drug killings.

Last week, suspected drug hitmen kidnapped another Mexican journalist in northern Mexico after he left work, shot him and left a threatening message scrawled on his body.

In December, suspected hitmen killed a journalist in the Mexican resort town of Tulum.

Since 2006, at least 24 journalists have been killed in Mexico, making it one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mexico’s defense ministry said on Saturday it was sending more than 800 troops to reinforce thousands of police and soldiers hunting down drug gangs in the violent border city of Tijuana.

Reporting by Barbara Obeso, editing by Philip Barbara

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