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Drug cartel abducts 4 Mexican journalists, groups say

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: The abductions occurred in area where prison warden was arrested
  • The journalists were snatched in an area where two cartels are fighting
  • A cartel supposedly wants its videos to receive coverage in exchange for the reporters
  • Three journalists work for TV stations, one for a newspaper

New York (CNN) -- A journalists' organization has called on the Mexican government to rescue four journalists believed held hostage by a drug cartel.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday news reports indicate that the unidentified cartel has demanded coverage of videos it has made in exchange for releasing the four reporters.

Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights issued a release Tuesday saying that the journalists were abducted Monday in the Laguna region, which includes the state of Durango and parts of neighboring Coahuila state.

That area has been the scene of vicious fighting between the Zetas crime group and the Sinaloa cartel.

The human rights commission identified the four abducted journalists as a videographer for the Multimedios TV station, a reporter with the local El Vespertino newspaper and two camera operators for the national Televisa network.

No information on their fate was publicly available Thursday.

Durango and Coahuila states have been in the news in recent days over the arrest of prison director Margarita Rojas Rodriguez, who is accused of letting inmates out at night to commit drug-related slayings.

Authorities announced Rojas' arrest Sunday and a prison guard was stabbed to death Monday during a demonstration in which prisoners demanded that the former prison director be reinstated.

The inmates were allowed to use prison vehicles and weapons and would return to the jail after committing the crimes, said Ricardo Najer, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The inmates were responsible for last week's mass slaying of 17 people at a party in the nearby city of Torreon in the state of Coahuila, Najer said. The prison is located just across the state line, in Durango state. Both states are in north central Mexico.

Officials said they matched bullet shells found at the crime scenes with weapons at the prison.

The prison weapons also matched casings found at shooting deaths at bars on February 1 and May 15, authorities said.

News accounts Monday noted that the Zetas drug cartel released a videotape last week that showed the apparent interrogation and subsequent shooting death of a man identified as a municipal police officer in Lerdo, a small city in Durango state. During the interrogation on the 13-minute recording, which is posted on YouTube, the bloodied man said jail director Rojas would let inmates out to kill enemies, including Zetas cartel members.

The man, who identified himself as 25-year-old Rodolfo Najera, also named other officials he said were linked to organized crime groups.