Two prominent Mexican journalists have been caught on camera taking money from the head of a drug cartel.
In the video, drug lord "La Tuta" can be seen giving Eliseo Caballero and José Luis Díaz cash while discussing how to improve his cartel's image, according to Fusion.
A new video showing two influential Mexican reporters taking wads of cash from a notorious drug lord suggests the long tendrils of cartel influence have established a grip in the country’s journalism industry, as has been rumored for years.
The video, which was published yesterday by Mexican news site MVS, shows two reporters from Mexico’s troubled Michoacán state appearing to accept money from one of the country’s most wanted drug lords, Servando Gómez, leader of the Knights Templar Cartel. The men then discuss a "communication strategy" to improve the cartel’s image and are heard asking for trucks and cameras.
The conversation in the video is clear and blunt.
In the 25-minute recording—of unknown origin—the drug kingpin known as "La Tuta," (the teacher) complains about the negative press that some Mexican reporters have given his criminal group, and asks the two journalists for suggestions on ways to "improve" media coverage of his cartel.
The journalists are from prominent media organizations.
One of the reporters, Eliseo Caballero, was the Michoacán correspondent for Televisa, Mexico’s largest TV network. Televisa said in a statement that Caballero was fired after network officials saw the video; network officials say they had no previous knowledge of Caballero’s meeting with the Knights Templar leader.
The second reporter in the video is José Luis Díaz, owner of Esquema, a news agency that focuses on crime news in Michoacán.
The two men are claiming that they were forced into meeting with the cartel leader and taking his money.
When contacted by MVS news, both reporters acknowledged it was them on the video, but said they were "forced" to attend the meeting and cooperate with La Tuta because they feared for their lives and the safety of their families.
Diaz and Caballero admitted to accepting money from La Tuta.
"It’s hard to say no to these people," Caballero told MVS radio host Carmen Aristegui.
The reporters didn't answer why they had made additional requests from the cartel.
However, during the meeting, Díaz and Caballero are also seen asking for additional favors. Díaz requests a new truck and Caballero asks for video cameras worth $6,000.
The reporters did not answer questions from Aristegui about why they made these requests. Mexican prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into both journalists.