La Opinión de Apatzingán
February 12, 2008, in Apatzingán, Mexico

Estrada, 38, a crime reporter for the daily La Opinión de Apatzingán in the central state of Michoacán, was last seen leaving his newsroom to return home to his wife and young son, his family told CPJ.

Local authorities found his car the next morning in the neighboring municipality of Buena Vista Tomatlán. The vehicle's engine was on, the doors were open, and several items were missing, including a stereo and Estrada's camera and laptop, La Opinión journalists said. The case was assigned to the state attorney general's kidnapping unit, and a helicopter search was conducted in outlying areas.

Estrada's relatives told CPJ that the reporter had a dispute in January 2008 with a Federal Investigations Agency (AFI) officer they knew only as "El Diablo" (The Devil). "The day he had that fight with the AFI agent, he came home shaking," Estrada's wife, María Dolores Barajas, told CPJ. A spokeswoman for the federal attorney general's office, which briefly took control of the case, said investigators could not identify any AFI agent known as "El Diablo" or make a connection between Estrada's disappearance and a federal agent.

Barajas said that she considers her husband dead and that she has requested a death certificate from local authorities. Víctor Arredondo, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said that a death certificate would not be issued because the case might someday be reopened.

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