An armed commando carrying heavy weapons and wearing military fatigues broke into the home of Mexican reporter Anabel Flores Salazar at around 2am this Monday and bundled her into a car.
The mother of two small children, Flores covered the police beat for the newspaper El Sol de Orizaba in the central mountainous region of the southern state of Veracruz.
In recent years Veracruz has been the deadliest state for Mexican media workers with 14 killed since 2011, according to the Mexican chapter of the freedom of expression rights group Article 19. These include Rubén Espinoza who was killed in the summer of 2015 in Mexico City where he had gone to take refuge from death threats received in Veracruz.
The state level authorities said on Monday that they launched a search operation for Flores, including checkpoints on major roads in the area, within a couple of hours of the kidnapping.
"The search and rescue protocol was launched as soon as her relatives reported what had happened," Benita González, president of the state commission charged with protecting journalists in Veracruz, told VICE News. "These are the first crucial hours for finding her alive."
A journalist from Veracruz said Flores was known for writing stories that highlighted the presence of the Zetas drug cartel in the state. He said this was true of the work she did for El Sol de Orizaba, as well as the reports she previously published in another local newspaper called El Buen Tono.
"It was a planned attacked. She was already marked [by criminal groups]," the journalist said, asking that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. "The truth is we are all frightened."
The authorities in Veracruz have been widely criticized for failing to properly investigate attacks against journalists and routinely suggesting the victims were in some way responsible.
The state attorney general's office released a statement on Flores' kidnapping on Monday that appeared to be repeating the trend by announcing it would be investigating "all the possible links of the reporter." The statement then cited a meeting it claimed Flores had with an alleged drug trafficker in August 2014 who was later arrested by the army.
A report released earlier this month by the International Federation of Journalists ranked Mexico as the third riskiest country for journalists in the world, behind Iraq and the Philippines. The Federation said that 120 Mexican media workers have been killed in the last 25 years.
Follow Oscar Balderas on Twisster: @oscarbalmen