Gerry Aranda, who covered Mexican cartels for Breitbart News, died on October 4. He was 43 years old.
His employer announced his death earlier this week, revealing he drowned while swimming. At the time of his death, he was in Chiapas studying the spread of a group called Cartel Jalisco New Generation and the group’s local subsidiary, Los Machetes. Aranda’s investigative reporting for Breitbart, the outlet said, helped uncover the Machetes paramilitary tactics in their turf war against Sinaloa cartel allies.
Authorities told Brietbart eyewitnesses saw a strong current drag the journalist into the ocean.
Aranda’s career was long and successful. Before obtaining his US citizenship in 2012, he was a journalist in Mexico and was often threatened for his work on cartels. A central figure in the Los Zetas cartel even threatened him for publishing his name in an article. It was concern for his safety that led him to post under a pseudonym with Breitbart when he joined in 2016, although he eventually started using his own name.
He has worked at TV Azteca, El Norte newspaper, Reforma news group and various Telemundo stations.
In a statement, Breitbart News CEO Larry Solov said, “Gerry was on a courageous mission to shed light on what is happening at our border and in Mexico. His courage was inspiring and he will be sadly missed by his Breitbart family. Gerry and his teammates’ efforts to give a voice to the victims and the voiceless will continue unabated, and the cartels he worked so hard to expose will continue to be the target of Breitbart’s investigative efforts.
Ildefonso Ortiz, who partnered with Aranda on the Cartel Chronicles project, added that working with him “was a unique experience” and that he was “one of those rare people who was extremely motivated and who not only believed in to the work we were doing, but also enjoyed.