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Mexican police say drug hit men killed journalist

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March 1, 2010 09:04 PM EST | AP

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VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico — A long-missing journalist in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco was killed by a drug cartel's hit men who dissolved his body in acid, Mexican authorities said.

Rodolfo Rincon, 54, who worked for the newspaper Tabasco Hoy, was last seen Jan. 20, 2007, after he reported on local drug dealers.

Silvia Gil, a spokeswoman for the Tabasco state prosecutor, told reporters late Sunday that Rincon's fate was learned from an arrested hit man.

Gil said the man, who was not identified, admitted belonging to a gang of hit men known as the Zetas. The man said the gang killed Rincon over his articles and then dissolved his body, she said.

Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. Watchdog groups say that more than 60 have been slain since 2000.

In the drug-plagued state of Sinaloa, Red Cross workers in the capital city of Culiacan refused to offer ambulance service Sunday and Monday to protest the killing of a volunteer and the lack of government protection for emergency workers.

Red Cross volunteer Maria Rogers, 20, was killed Sunday by a stray bullet when gunmen went into a Red Cross hospital trying to finish off a man who had been shot minutes earlier. The man survived.

Culiacan Red Cross chief Jose Vidal said Rogers had volunteered with the group for five years.

"We will stop offering our ambulance services as a protest to the government and so that people know about the insecurity that we have been working under," Vidal said.

More than 400 people have been killed this year in Sinaloa, which is in Mexico's drug-smuggling heartland.

Drug violence has killed more than 15,000 people nationwide since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels after taking office in late 2006.