MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A radio station host and manager in the Mexican state of Michoacan who went missing in late November has been found dead, officials said on Thursday, adding to the growing murder toll of journalists as violence escalates across the country.

Local media said he had been shot to death.

Mexico registered 10 killings of journalists in 2019, the same number as the year before and in line with Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders, making Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous places for media workers.

The body of Fidel Avila, of the “Ke Buena” station in the western state of Michoacan’s Huetamo municipality, was found on a highway earlier this week, 40 days after he was last seen at a cultural event in neighboring Guerrero state, Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights said.   

“Our condolences to the family and friends of Fidel Avila Gomez, journalist in Michoacan. We deeply lament his murder,” presidential spokesman Jesus Ramirez wrote in a post on Twitter.

Michoacan and Guerrero are two of Mexico’s most violent and lawless states, where rival drug gangs have battled to control smuggling routes.

The president of the Michoacan Association of Journalists, Alvaro Garcia, told local television that criminal activity in the area was at a peak.

“There is always a persistent risk,” he said.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; additional reporting by Sharay Angulo; Editing by Steve Orlofsky