Mexican drug traffickers are doing after the news media with a vengeance in strategic border towns where drugs are smuggled across by the ton, reports the New York Times. They have shot up newsrooms, kidnapped and killed staff members and called up the media regularly with threats that were not the least bit veiled. Back off, the thugs said. Do not dare print our names. We will kill you the next time you publish a photograph like that. “They mean what they say,” said one of the many terrified journalists who used to cover the police beat in Reynosa. “I'm censoring myself. There's no other way to put it. But so is everybody else.”
When they are not issuing threats, drug runners are buying off reporters with everything from cash to romps with prostitutes. The news blackout along the border has amplified fears, as false rumors of impending shootouts circulate unchecked, prompting many parents to pull their children from school and businesses to close. A mother can huddle on the floor of a closet with her daughter as fierce gunfire is exchanged outside their home and find not a word of it in the next day's paper.