Three Mexican journalists reported being assaulted by police March 2 while covering demonstrations supporting the captured drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.
The attacks on reporters for the Noreste news network came as police tried to disperse hundreds of people marching in support of Guzmán in the northwestern state of Sinaloa where Guzmán’s operations had been based, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported.
In Sinaloa’s capital Culiacán, a Noroeste photographer reported that police beat him, put a bag over his head and threatened to kill him after he photographed bullet empty bullet casings after police fired on demonstrators, according to El Informador newspaper. A videographer who was recording the police action against the demonstrators had his cell phone confiscated.
At another march in Guamúchil, photojournalist Sergio Lozano García, reported being choked by a police officer while other officers destroyed his equipment. Lozano had been taking pictures of the officers subduing a young man, according to El Debate.
Demonstrators in Culiacán and Guamúchil were marching to urge the Mexican government not to extradite Guzmán to the U.S. to face trial. The demonstrations violated a Mexican law prohibiting protests that support criminal activity, reported La Semana.
Guzmán was captured earlier this month in Mazatlan. Despite the violence that the drug cartels have wrought in Mexico, Guzman was seen as a Robin Hood-like figure to many. In the tradition of older drug lords, Guzman earned admiration from communities in his cartel’s terrain for his gifts and support for local businesses.
An earlier demonstration in support of Guzmán in February brought at least 2,000 people into the streets of Culiacán, Infobae reported. This protest was also met by municipal police force.