The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the murder of a Mexican journalist under police protection who was gunned down on Wednesday in eastern Veracruz.

According to news accounts, Pedro Tamayo Rosas was working with his wife and two grown sons at a food stand outside his home in Tierra Blanca when two men approached and shot him after ordering a hamburger.

Despite the presence of a state police vehicle parked nearby, Tamayo’s family told investigators, the gunmen left the scene calmly after shooting him. Tamayo was taken to a hospital, but died from his injuries.

The journalist regularly reported on crime and the police in Mexico and his pieces were often published in local newspapers Al Calor Politico and El Piñero de la Cuenca. He sometimes used the pen name “En la linea de fuego” (“in the line of fire”).

Tamayo’s work led him to write about the Zetas drug cartel, which controls Tierra Blanca, and he received death threats for his efforts. Tamayo sought safety in Oaxaca, but returned to Veracruz after being promised police protection.

IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said the case highlighted authorities’ ongoing inability to tackle violence against journalists and others that continues to plague Mexico.

“We are extremely concerned, not only by the continuing murders of so many journalists in Mexico and the impunity with which they are often met, but by complaints by members of Mr. Tamayo’s family that police officers protecting him failed to do their job and let his murderers escape,” he said. “We urge authorities to bring the killers to justice and to ensure that journalists under threat receive the protection they need.”

Eight police officers reportedly voluntarily appeared before investigators yesterday to give their account of the murder and its aftermath.

Veracruz is notorious for corruption and drug-related violence, with three of the eight journalists reported killed so far in Mexico this year having died in that state. In February, Anabel Flores Salazar was found dead a day after she was abducted from her home at gunpoint. Authorities later confirmed that she was targeted by a criminal gang due to her work. Three months later, Manuel Torres González was gunned down. Local authorities were criticised for ignoring his journalistic work as a possible motive.

In 2015, two of 11 journalists murdered were killed in Veracruz. However, two more had links to the state. Ruben Espinosa, shot dead in Mexico City nearly one year ago, had fled Veracruz and Armando Saldaña Morales, found dead in Oaxaca after apparent torture, had been abducted there.