This last reporting period saw a deplorable change for the worse in the cycle of attacks on Mexican journalists. Three journalists were killed and another feared dead with whereabouts unknown following his kidnapping in April. This is in addition to the five journalists killed between March 2004 and 2005. The last 18 months mark the single most deadly period in Mexican history. There is officially-supported evidence that five of the nine cases are linked to organized crime, drug trafficking in particular. Authorities allege that the four remaining cases involve personal circumstances unrelated to freedom of speech issues. However, neither the families, nor the press associations to which they belonged, nor the public have received irrefutable information that would definitely rule out the theory that the attacks were related to journalistic activities. The cases are as follows: - Jesús Reyes Brambila, killed September 18, in Guadalajara, Jalisco. - Raúl Gibb Guerrero, editor of La Opinión newspaper published in Poza Rica, Veracruz, killed April 8. - Guadalupe García Escamilla, gunned down in front of her workplace on April 5, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. - Alfredo Jiménez Mota, a reporter with El Imparcial published in Hermosillo, Sonora, disappeared April 2, was known for his reporting on drug trafficking. He was 25 at the time of his disappearance. Previously reported cases include: - Gregorio Rodríguez Hernández, from the northwestern state of Sinaloa, killed November 28, 2004. - Leodegario Aguilera Lucas, reported as disappeared from Acapulco on September 9, 2004. - Francisco Arratia Saldierna, gunned down in the northeast border state of Tamaulipas on September 1, 2004. - Francisco Ortiz Franco, killed in Tijuana in June 2004. - Roberto Mora García, killed in March 2004 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Repeated demands by IAPA and others concerning these cases led the Office of the Attorney General to federalize investigations into the killings of: Francisco Ortiz Franco, Guadalupe García Escamilla, Raúl Gibb Guerrero and Alfredo Jiménez Mota. In addition to these brutal examples, numerous violent acts have led to a climate of fear and demoralization in various areas of the country, in particular along the U.S. border. El Universal newspaper unofficially counted more than 1000 drug-related killings in a nine month period during 2005. Threats directed against editors and reporters have resulted in an unwillingness to report on drug trafficking, even where the information is from official sources. The west coast state of Sinaloa has seen the highest number drug-related killings. Like the border region, there are numerous reports of journalists abandoning their profession and even fleeing the city in fear for their and their families lives. The IAPA has played an active role and made an important contribution to the task of organizing a consistent response by editors, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Reporters without Borders. A meeting of newspaper executives representing some 40 newspapers in eight states along the northern border was held in Hermosillo, Sonora to reach a number of agreements. The Declaration of Hermosillo called for legislation to federalize crimes against journalists, exempt such offenses from any statute of limitation, and toughen punishments for offenders. The offices of Noticias de Oaxaca remain occupied since last November. The newspaper continues to be the victim of harassment by the state government, which is accused of provoking a labor conflict between the newspaper and the union. On July 18 the union went out on strike and shut down the installations. The newspaper continues to circulate against great odds since it is printed in a nearby city. In April, as a result of pressure from various groups and individuals in Mexico, the Senate approved an amendment to the Federal Penal Code exempting members of a number of professions from government demands that they reveal their sources of information. This establishes reporters' privilege in federal law. The amendment remains to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies. Among other developments impacting freedom of the press were: On April 2, Alfredo Jiménez Mota, a reporter with El Imparcial published in Hermosillo, Sonora, was reported missing. Jiménez specialized in reporting on law enforcement and drug trafficking, and his case is now under federal jurisdiction. On April 5, Guadalupe García Escamilla, a radio journalist with Estéreo 91 was shot nine times by a lone assailant. After 11 days in intensive care she died on April 16. García had reported receiving death threats over the phone, and earlier her car had been set on fire. Her case is now under federal jurisdiction. On April 8, Raúl Gibb Guerrero, managing editor of La Opinión newspaper published in Poza Rica, Veracruz, was killed in a hail of 15 shots fired at his pickup by four gunmen from two separate vehicles. His case is now under federal jurisdiction. On April 28, management and personnel at Primera Hora in Mazatlán, Sinaloa lodged criminal complaints alleging that three crime-beat reporters for the newspaper, José Luis Rodríguez, Juan Escutia, and another unnamed reporter, received death threats over the telephone for stories on gasoline thefts from Pemex, and the killing of an agent with the prosecutor's office. On May 11 unknown assailants tossed a Molotov cocktail at the pickup driven by Pedro Pérez Natividad, editorial page editor for the Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipasnewspaper, Primera Hora. On July 18, in a night-time assault, a group of armed men and plainclothes police seized the facilities of Noticias, violently removing 31 newspaper employees who had been unable to leave the premises for 30 days due to labor strife. The employees were beaten and stripped of their cell phones and purses by the assailants led by Ulises Bravo, a leader of the union federation, CROC, and by Carlos Monjarraz, a member of a group of armed men controlled by union leader, David Aguilar Robles. On July 22 in Cananea, Sonora, miners' union executive board member, Juan José Gutiérrez Ballesteros and his two bodyguards were arrested and released following payment of a fine for threatening Orlando Valencia Estrada — the local talk show host of “Noticentro,” carried by La Consentida radio station. On July 29, in Escuinapa, Sinaloa, reporter Sugey Estrada with Noroeste newspaper reported that she had been threatened by municipal police chief Filiberto Bribiesca Sandoval when she requested an interview. Executives and journalists at Noroeste issued the "Escuinapa Report" on the climate of harassment directed against a number of journalists in the region who have been forced to abandon their jobs and even flee with their families to other cities for fear of attacks. On September 18, Jesús Reyes Brambila, social page reporter for Vallarta Milenio, was found dead in the trunk of a car belonging to the newspaper. The reporter was found naked, bound and blindfolded in a black bag, with stab-wounds to the throat and chest, in addition to three blunt trauma injuries to his head. The car had been abandoned near downtown Guadalajara. According to the medical examiners' office Reyes's had been killed days before his body had been discovered. Family members identified the reporter — brother of Vallarta Milenio's executive editor Luis Reyes Brambilia.