Veteran journalist Javier Valdez killed in Mexico's Sinaloa

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Mexican reporter Javier Valdez, who reported on Mexico's bloody drug wars for more than a decade, was shot dead today (May 15) in broad daylight near his office in the northern Mexican city of Culiacán.

A Sinaloa state government official said Valdez, 50, was shot dead in the early afternoon in the state capital, Culiacan, near the offices of the publication he had co-founded, Riodoce.

Website reported that several bullet casings had been found at the crime scene, and that authorities had not yet issued official information about the murder. Valdez was also a correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada, which reported that he was pulled from his auto and shot multiple times.

"Valdez was a nationally and internationally recognized journalist who authored several books on the drug trade, including Narcoperiodismo and Los Morros del Narco", The Associated Press reports.

He was the fifth journalist (link in Spanish) to be killed in the country so far this year.

Mexico is one of the most risky places to be a journalist, with the vast majority of attacks on the press unpunished.

Valdez released a new book past year, titled "Narco-journalism".

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Cárdenas was attacked in the state of Sinaloa, where he lived and worked.

Mexican and foreign journalists paid homage to Valdez on social media, describing him as a courageous writer and generous friend whose killers must be brought to justice to deter future slayings. President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned what he called an "outrageous crime".

The cartel is believed to be responsible for an estimated 25% of all illegal drugs that enter the United States via Mexico.

The attack "was outside the premises of Riodoce... he was shot", the judicial source said.

A special federal prosecutor's office tasked with crimes against freedom of expression said it had started the procedure for opening an inquiry and was sending a team to collect evidence. The latter chronicled the lives of young people swept up in Mexico's underworld.

Mexico ranks third in the world for the number of journalists killed, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders. The state of Sinaloa is the base of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, and has seen a surge in violence since his arrest, as rival members of his gang vie to wrestle control.

Like Valdez, Breach had reported on organised crime, drug-trafficking and corruption. Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, a lawyer with a background in global law and human rights, took over the post.