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Cartel hitmen sentenced in murder of Tijuana journalist

Baja California prosecutors this week sentenced two cartel hitmen to 25 years for the murder of journalist Margarito Martinez. Martinez was one of two Tijuana journalists gunned down in January. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with other Tijuana journalists about their fight for justice.<br/>

Baja California prosecutors this week sentenced two drug cartel hitmen to 25 years for the murder of photojournalist Margarito Martinez.

Manuel Ramos, known as “El Uber,” shot Martinez outside his home the morning of January 19, 2022. Jose Heriberto Ochoa, known as “El Huesos,” filmed the murder. Both were paid $1,000, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said two men stalked Martinez and his family for days, going as far as to take up residence in a room that overlooked the Martinez home.

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“They hunted him as if he was their prey,” said Sonia de Anda, a Tijuana-based journalist who covered the trail. De Anda went on to say that the 25-year sentence is too lenient.

The alleged motive behind the murder was an article published in the Tijuana-based investigative news outlet Zeta. That article featured photographs of a Mexican cartel member identified as “Cabo 20” and his family.

Cabo 20 allegedly ordered the hit because he believed that Martinez took the photographs. After Martinez’s murder, the newspaper said the photographs came from other sources.

Cabo 20, who is in jail for another unrelated murder, has not been charged in the Martinez case.

De Anda says Tijuana’s journalists will continue to fight for justice until everyone involved in the murder is convicted. “We will continue to pressure the authorities, so they do as much as possible to get to the bottom of this,” she said.

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At least 15 journalists have been killed in Mexico this year. Martinez was one of two murdered in Tijuana. The other was Lourdes Maldonado, who was also shot and killed in front of her home in January.

In that case, prosecutors sentenced three men for 20 years. The three men sentenced are Guillermo Garzon, Erick Contreras, and Kevin Villarino.

Prosectors have not publicly stated a motive for Maldonado's murder or said who ordered the hit, de Anda said.

“Somebody ordered the killing, somebody paid them to kill,” she said.

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