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Agents arrest man after search in connection to homicide of Tijuana photojournalist

Agents with Baja California’s state Attorney General’s office detained a man in his home early Wednesday morning before dawn, after conducting a search of the residence in connection with the murder of Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel.

The person who was detained, Ángel Peña, is the administrator of what appears to be a Facebook news page. Peña streamed live his own capture at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday, showing armed police, accompanied by soldiers with the National Guard surrounding his home “like he was a drug lord,” Peña said, minutes before his arrest.

A spokesman with the Attorney General’s office said during the search of Peña’s home “an undetermined amount” of marijuana was discovered in the home, and Peña is being held on suspicion of drug possession.

“Various actions have been carried out as part of the investigation into the murder of photojournalist Margarito “N” in order to obtain information that will facilitate the clarification of the events that occurred last Monday,” the spokesman said. Law enforcement officials in Baja California do not typically identify people by their full names, but rather use an “N,” instead of a last name.

Martínez, who worked as a journalist and “fixer” assisting international outlets including the BBC, as well as for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, was shot three times on Monday afternoon.

As other journalists worked to gather facts about the fatal shooting on Monday afternoon, Peña stood across the street, streaming live video to his Facebook page, while taunting and mocking the reporters, calling them “sell-outs” among other phrases. There was a brief but heated verbal confrontation between some of the members of the traditional media and Peña.

In December, a senior government human rights official in Mexico confirmed that 90 percent of crimes against activists and journalists go unpunished in Mexico. Alejandro Encinas, the assistant interior secretary in charge of human rights in Mexico, said that in almost half the cases where culprits are identified they are local government officials.

Martínez was the second journalist to be killed in violence-stricken Mexico since the start of the year. Jose Luis Gamboa, the director of the online news site Inforegio in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, reportedly suffered stab wounds in what officials say may have been a robbery. He died at a hospital in the state capital on Jan. 10.

The Attorney General spokesman said a photo of the suspect, Ángel Peña, was not immediately available. Hiram Sánchez Zamora, chief prosecutor for central Baja California, said during a Tuesday news conference that it was unclear if Peña had any prior arrests.



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