Organized Crime

He defended the sacred lands of Mexico’s Tarahumara people. Then a gunman cut him down

He defended the sacred lands of Mexico’s Tarahumara people. Then a gunman cut him down

Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, a son of the jagged and often lawless terrain of the western Sierra Madre, had no illusions about the threats he faced from sundry foes — drug traffickers, illegal lumber harvesters and other criminal elements who have infiltrated the remote highlands that are home to Mexico’s Tarahumara people.

But relatives and friends say the indigenous leader, who won global acclaim for his defense of the region’s ancient forests, could not be deterred from returning to Coloradas de la Virgen, his remote home village, a place cut off by mighty canyons and thuggish violence.

“Isidro felt like he had work to do, he had to help his people,” recalled his sister-in-law,...

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