The shooting and attempted murder of prominent Mexican journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva was reportedly orchestrated by a local extortion and drug-dealing gang despite their motives being murky, Mexico City police said on Wednesday.

Police Chief Omar Garcia Harfuch said that authorities have detained 11 people who are believed to have been involved in the Gómez Leyva attack when two motorcycles attempted to shoot the SUV he was in to kill him. The journalist was only reportedly saved by the bulletproof coating that the car had, according to the Associated Press.

The small-time gang has been involved in murder, extortion, and street-level drug-dealing activities, though it is unclear why they attempted to kill the journalist.

During the raids against the gang, a cap was found with the initials CJNG, indicating that the notoriously-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel may have been involved, though Harfuch has said that there is no evidence of that, ABC News reported.

“It is very frequent in Mexico City for criminal gangs to use names — Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco Cartel — just to communicate a link with them, without meaning they are part [of the cartels],” Harfuch said.

The attempt to kill Gómez Leyva in December made waves across the country, causing even President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whom Gómez Leyva is critical of, to condemn the attack, “It is completely reprehensible for anyone to be attacked.”

The deadliest year for journalists in Mexico in decades was 2022, with a reported 15 journalists killed. They were mostly small-time reporters or freelancers for bigger companies, and it is expected to continue on its trajectory as President López Obrador continued his anti-journalist rhetoric in public, Voice of America reported.

“Andrés Manuel López Obrador, both during the campaign and as president, has successfully politicized journalism in Mexico more than it has ever been in recent memory,” Jan-Albert Hootsen from the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Journalist Attempted Murder Mexico Rep. Pic
Mexican City police have arrested eleven members of a small-time gang whom they claim has been responsible for the attempted murder of journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva. This is a representational image. Colin Lloyd/Unsplash.

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