Second man convicted in murder of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez

A second man accused in the 2017 murder of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez, an AFP contributor, was found guilty on Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office announced.

The judge “issued a conviction against Juan Francisco ‘P’ for his criminal responsibility as a material co-perpetrator in the murder,” the prosecution said in a statement.

Juan Francisco Picos Berrueta, known as “El Quillo,” will be sentenced at a later date and could be jailed for up to 50 years as he denies any responsibility for Valdez’s death.

Another man was convicted and sentenced in February 2020 to 14 years and eight months in prison.

Heriberto Picos Barraza, nicknamed “El Koala,” served as a driver for two men, Picos Berrueta and Luis Idelfonso Sanchez, who shot Valdez outside his office in the northwestern city of Cualiacan, according to the prosecution.

A co-founder of the weekly newspaper Riodoce, Valdez, 50, was one of the most prominent chroniclers of Mexico’s deadly drug war in a state where notorious kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman once reigned.

The prosecution has said the assassination was ordered by Damaso Lopez Serrano, the son of a drug trafficker, who was furious at having been criticized in an article by Riodoce.

Lopez Serrano, who allegedly paid for the killing and supplied the weapons, has always denied the claims.

Picos Berrueta refused to plead guilty in exchange for a shorter sentence and was tried as the main perpetrator.

The murder, in one of the deadliest countries for members of the press, sparked international condemnation.

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