Monday, July 18, 2011

Are Mexico Drug Gangs Drafting Hackers?

Recent claims that computer programmers are being forcibly recruited by Mexican drug gangs, if true, suggest that the criminal groups may be upping their efforts to reap the potential profits of cyber crime.




Written by Ronan Graham
In Sight


The story of Fernando Ernesto Villegas Alvarez recently featured in Mexican newspaper Excelsior. A 24-year-old intern at a research center in a Mexico City college, Villegas was, according to his parents, delighted to be offered an attractive job at company known as “Productos Foca.” However, things turned sour when he was enticed into working on an out-of-office project in Acapulco with the promise of a 10,000 peso bonus ($850), equivalent to his monthly wage. His final task in Acapulco was in a house in the Brisas del Marques area, where he was supposedly required to help set up email accounts for his client. However, he soon found out that this client was Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” an infamous, now-captured, drug lord from the Beltran Leyva Organization.

According to Villegas' mother, her son was gripped by fear and felt compelled to do as he was told, although he wanted to return home. However, Villegas, never did return home. On July 31, 2010, police raided the residence where he was working and sleeping. He was accused of carrying weapons belonging to the army and was told that the Mac computer he was using was stolen property. The exact nature of the work he undertook for Valdez Villareal remains unclear, and he now stands accused of possession of a grenade, with no charges relating to cybercrime. After spending 80 days in police custody, he was transferred to a federal prison in Veracruz State, where he remains. He is, according to his supporters, an innocent computer programmer who was held against his will by a violent drug boss.

According to some reports, Villegas claims that police forced him to throw a grenade in order to implicate him in being a member of the gang.

Dmitry Bestuzhev, a Latin American specialist with the global Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab, told news channel RT that he was not surprised by allegations that criminal gangs were coercing Mexican computer programmers. Bestuzhev believes these gangs are increasingly demonstrating a desire to make money from cybercrime but lack the technical knowhow within their ranks to do so. He said that they turn to computer programmers to help them to, among other things, steal information to clone credit cards and passports.

There are certainly many reasons why these gangs would be desperate to recruit programmers with the expertise to break into the world of cybercrime. Mexican drug trafficking organization are unsurprisingly attracted by the high profits and minimal risks, offered by cyber crimes like fraud, theft, and piracy. "I strongly believe that if drug dealers see [profit] in abusing kidnapped cyber-criminals, they will keep doing it,” Bestuzhev said.

It’s not clear whether Fernando Ernesto Villegas Alvarez is an innocent computer programmer, intimidated into using his expertise to help criminal gangs, but the story sounds plausible. As InSight Crime has noted, Mexico is becoming a global hub for cybercrime, due to its growing population of computer users and large number of pre-existing criminal networks. Many of these groups have seen their drug trafficking profits squeezed by President Felipe Calderon’s crackdown on organized crime, and are turning to other illegal activities to bring in income.

20 comments:

  1. Great, it's Revenge of the Nerds all over again.

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  2. ATF & NRA supports your local Drug Cartels by making it easier to get guns and the killing of women, children in Mexico and the killing of U.S. Border Agents.

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  3. please leave comments on the original article at insightcrime.org

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  4. Well it just had to happen! Linking up the nefarious Mexican drug pushing low life with supposed cyber crimes. What next? A report about how Zeta are eating babies?

    'Dmitry Bestuzhev, a Latin American specialist with the global Russian computer security company Kaspersky Lab, told news channel RT that he was not surprised by allegations that criminal gangs were coercing Mexican computer programmers.'

    Well whoopee do do, it must be true! Let's go to war now! There are so many reasons given to us all the time to do so, is that not so very true? Who can resist the rush for more?

    'As InSight Crime has noted, Mexico is becoming a global hub for cybercrime, due to its growing population of computer users and large number of pre-existing criminal networks.'

    Oh no doubt.... Send in the Pentagon now! First the 'advisors', then the drones and uniformed snipers, and then the death squads operated by DC! Cyber crime? WOW!

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  5. oh there we go again..if Mexicans used that imagination to be more productive. Mex would perhaps be more industrialized...you read, hear too many similar stories...why didn't he use his programming skills to contact the authorities?...why wasn't he more technology savvy to get himself out of that situation..come on...

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  6. This is a really old story. Not that they aren't doing it but I read this story over a year ago. Narco criminals force lots of people to work for them so why not programmers.

    Ardent as usual expresses his views regardless of whether they are relevant to the story.

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  7. That La Barbie had his hand in just about everything!! Gotta give him credit as a high school dropout from texas or whatever he is

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  8. Dunno, never says anything about whether he took the $850.00 or not! Plus, the alleged victim never states he was directly threatened by anyone. Sounds like he is crying "victim" after he was caught. He needs to "own up to it" and stop crying to his momma!

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  9. As usual, Ardent realizes the drum rolls for yet more war are being constantly pounded on by the compliant US commercial press and think tanks, Anonymous 3:43. This commentary is case in point. It really irritates so many when I, or others, express a negative attitude about all this. The pro war crowd just never can seem to get enough porristas on board... They feel nervous about getting continued US taxpayer support into the years that come.

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  10. WELL THIS EXPLAINS ALL THE SANAORIA AND GOLFA CARTEL SUPPORTERS THAT COME ON HERE

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  11. so where in any of this do you see ANY mention of war ard bark?

    you are such a cheap shill...pooh poohing the violence in Monterrey ..while making totally irrelevant comments on other articles..

    you are a one note source of misdirection , misinformation , outright lies ,and disconnected irrational thought...no wonder we ended up with ronny raygun ..two bushes ..and probably a third..(jeb)...and the obummer/obomber

    with incompetent morons like you running the opposition...the pawns /tools of the world bank boys can't lose

    and now you are talking in third person?...what are you? the fukn queen of england or something?

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  12. When did Mexico get internet?

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  13. I think God put Mexico on this planet to depict what Hell would look and feel like

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  14. Sure, he's innocent. He hacked against his will. He was powerless to do anything to stop this INCLUDING SENDING A FRIGGIN EMAIL TO THE COPS since he was on the computer all the time?????????????????????????/

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  15. @July 19, 2011 1:06 PM

    Are you fucking retarded? Send message to people who you absolutely can't trust, commonly speaken? Fuck off or try his shoes.

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  16. 'L 'B said...
    so where in any of this do you see ANY mention of war ard bark?'

    Oh, I'm so sorry, Brito. It's not like nobody here is advocating an increased drug war or anything???? My mistake then. I guess the Merida Initiative and all the propaganda (such as the so called 'In sight' commentary about cartel hackers) for increasing the military funding for Calderon's army and police is ultimately just my imagination... Stupid me!

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  17. Anonymous said...

    When did Mexico get internet?
    July 19, 2011 11:37 AM

    it is all hand cranked..like when i go to Monterrey and ride my burro ...down the middle of the street... well when the burro wags it's tail i have it rigged so i get internet...

    and when i go into a cantina..you know like in a clint eastwood movie...and the inkeepers sweet, lovely, long haired demure daughter brings me a earthenware jug full of tequila and a bowl of beans

    well she cranks a big wooden handle and i get internet

    deveras..

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  18. @LB

    Tons Ke? Aqui con mis cuates en la indepe escuchando rolas de Celso Piña y chupando caguamas de tu chela favorita; carta blanca ( a huevo) Y Ke o Ke o Ke? Ke P2?

    No sea OGT cuando te lanzas pa'ca?

    Te disparo unos privados en la Amnesia

    Lástima que ya no radiques en aca

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  19. @ anon...no...i don't go out any more ...just drink my chevys at home ...it is a shame ..the night life has changed in Monterrey..maybe forever

    no privados para me ..jajjajaja

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