Ávila's body, which showed signs of torture, was found on a dirt road near the city of Guaymas, in the state of Sonora, according to the state attorney general's office. An autopsy revealed that he had been strangled, news reports said. José Larrinaga Talamante, a spokesman for the attorney general, told reporters that a written message associated with organized crime had been left with the body, but he did not reveal any details.
Armed men had abducted Ávila on the afternoon of May 17 in the Sonoran town of Ciudad Obregón, about 65 miles from where his body was found, according to news reports. Larrinaga said the journalist had been waiting for his car at a car wash when unidentified men armed with rifles forced him into their vehicle, according to a witness.
Ávila covered crime for the local daily El Regional de Sonora, and also wrote for the daily's sister paper, El Diario de Sonora, in the Sonoran city of Nogales, according to his colleagues. Eduardo Flores, director of both papers, told The Associated Press that Ávila wrote about drug trafficking but wasn't allowed to conduct in-depth reporting and had never even mentioned the cartels by name in his stories. The director said Ávila had never mentioned receiving threats.
Ávila's colleagues, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told CPJ they were unaware of any reports of journalists being threatened in that part of the state or of any being told by drug traffickers to cut back on their coverage of organized crime groups. Local journalists told CPJ they couldn't point to any particular story that would have angered criminal groups.
Flores said Ávila was married and had three children.