Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

The Messenger

Friday, October 28, 2011 |

One wonders even now whether showing her picture could cause more harm, put more people in danger, spread the poison.

Her offense? She was an online chat room moderator in Mexico, using the Internet to crusade against her city's organized crime. On September 24, she became the first confirmed social media correspondent to be executed by criminal interests, as they sought to keep new media silent.

When she was found dead--with horrific embellishments--it was noted that she was from Mexico's area of “silent war,” at the border city of Nuevo Laredo. Though Nuevo Laredo is the busiest commercial port on the border, astride the Pan-American Highway, it suffers a special isolation. Its local news reporting has been so severely suppressed by criminal intimidation, for so long, that the outside world sees little of the city's gang conflicts. In the news, the half million people trapped at Nuevo Laredo can seem eerily quiet. Or simply absent.

The silence showed even as word went around the world about the social media killing--because half the world got her name wrong. Was she really Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro–or was she Marisol Macias Castaneda? In many global media she was one, but in many more she was the other, with no final word on which was right. Then the story vanished, for no further information was coming from the scene. Her personal details lay concealed in a half-million-strong citadel where even giving out a name could tumble you into the pit.

Online, she was known by a pseudonym, NenaDLaredo (GirlFromLaredo), keeping her identity veiled as she tackled issues the old-style media were avoiding. Notably, she denounced the Zetas, Nuevo Laredo’s dominant underworld cartel. Like a masked avatar, she urged fellow citizens to contact government tip lines with information about Zeta movements--though the dragons were closing in.

On September 14, ten days before she met her fate, Nuevo Laredo had produced two other corpses, of a young man and a young woman, who were pie-sliced and suspended from a pedestrian bridge, with a hand-lettered poster mounted beside the ropes. This gave first notice, saying that "Internet relajes (jerks, clowns)" should not disturb organized crime..


However, the two victims left as examples with the poster could not be verified as social media activists, for a dismal reason: They were never publicly identified at all. In Nuevo Laredo’s atmosphere of mystery, the two remained ghastly ciphers, their names and backgrounds unrevealed. Conceivably, their double murder could have been one more garden-variety underworld hit, dressed up post-mortem with a poster so the killers could use them as stage props for threats against the Web. In this vein, the male victim’s fingers were missing, as if fingerprints might reveal an identity unsuited to an anti-Internet message.

At every turn, the details of this story wreck the telling, overpowering with their horror--as the most primal savagery reacts against the quantum leap of electronic horizons.

Nuevo Laredo had come early to cartel violence, baptized in the Nuevo Laredo War of 2003 to 2007, well before Mexico's official "drug war" kicked off in late 2006. The city's traditional media were long accustomed to staying discreetly dark on cartel crimes, as they faced cartel threats: “get aligned” with what the gang wants, take the envelope from the spying paymaster right in the newsroom, parrot back the caricatured gang “press releases”–or suffer the beatings, and then worse. The information vacuum was partially filled by improvisers in social media--tweeting alerts on firefights, using chat-room bulletins to finger gang lookouts, venting the general frustration.

When the September 24 killing arrived, the killers left no doubt about the victim's identity. There was a new poster now, propped beside the obsessively assaulted remains. Sneeringly, it used her chat-room code name--though the atmosphere of mystery still won some points. Her Web work was a sideline, and on the matter of her day job the obituary again blurred. Was she really a newspaper editor (as many of the worldwide conduits announced), or was she a less dramatic ad vendor at a local newspaper, as in others?

Either way, the killers didn’t seem much interested in her old-media activities. The crude poster, this time propped against a cement flower planter next to a Columbus statue on a public square, cited not only her Internet handle but the name of the Web site where she had kept up the heat on the Zetas. For good measure, the poster addressed its warning to “Redes Sociales”—“Social Networks.”

The signature “ZZZZ” was a common Zetas tag, though naturally it could have been faked by some rival gang (some of the wording reminded vaguely of an old effort by the Sinaloa Cartel). Yet the Zetas never denied the killing, or sent indignant counter-messages claiming the message wasn't really theirs, as sometimes done elsewhere. The rules of murder-messaging left the boast to stand: We did do this. We are saying it: We own the Web.

So now it was confirmed. The killers were reaching through the glowing screen, to crush the messenger.


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15 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Zetas are a bunch of cowards and nothing makes me happier than seeing a death zeta...

Anonymous said...

...When a person or a organization acquires certain powers or certain positions in life thru hate, ignorance, and fear, thinking themselves as INVINSIBLE!!...WHAT FOOLS THEY ARE,... BUT ONLY A FOOL SAYS TO HIMSELF, THERE IS NO GOD!!!...

Slappy said...

I have been told that in Nuevo Laredo the military has a 'no live prisoners' policy when it comes to the Zetas.

Any zetas that are captured by the military are tortured and executed, no exceptions. The Mexican government needs to take this policy nation wide and start wholesale slaughter of Zetas and their support structure. Literally torture and execute them all on the spot, no judge or jury, no identification of the body, bury them and let them rot for eternity in hell.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a more info on the nuevo laredo war of 2003 2007 mentioned in the article.

Anonymous said...

The Zetas and all Mexican cartel members should be executed on sight, no arrests, simple eradication. These are monsters who murder daily and massacres of families, friends and children are as common to these thugs as going to McDonalds. It is normal and acceptable so they can never be rehabilitated. They must not be sentenced to Mexican prison as they are let out whenever they want they have to be literally shot dead on actual sight. These are all yellow backed punks who are gonna be in a world of hurt once the USA has troops to wipe them out sent to Mexico. BTW, Chapo Guzman you PUNK coward piece of trash your next but I hope they Mexican Feds do what Libyan people did to Gaddafi and that was to stick a sword up his rear end twist and rip the insides out...pure metal sodomy! These mass murderers are already convicted in the eyes of the world.....eliminate any cartel member on sight should be the Mexican motto

Anonymous said...

@2:36 am The war happened because Chapo asked his Cousin and back then friend Arturo Beltran to seize Nuevo Laredo,which Arturo was really not interested in,but he still did Chapo the favor,only to later on after he had wasted alot of money and alot of people,Chapo decides to betray his Cousin Arturo,by ratting on his brother and turning him in to the goverment,causing the war between Beltran Leyvas and Chapo that is still going on.
You could say Chapo backstabbed the Beltran Leyva Family.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Nuevo Laredo war between 03-07 shes talking about is when the Sinaloa cartel sent "La Barbie" and over 200 men to take over the plaza after Osiel Cardenas was arrested, but the Zetas held it down for the Gulf cartel and sent Sinalao back beat n battered.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious,that a so called friend,or workmate,must have outed her to some naughty people.Man,did you see the shit they did to this woman,keep a gun,and if any motherfucker tries any shit on you,kill him,quietly.I would rather go out killing these clowns,than be caught by the gang of them.Maybe the whole Mexican people need a gun,to start killin these rats.

Anonymous said...

October 29, 2011 7:16 AM Obviously you haven't read how el Mochomo was arrested. According to what I read his group was infiltrated by SEDENA and it was also thanks to two people who got arrested from his team that he was located.

Anonymous said...

Rest in Peace. You died for your country.

Anonymous said...

Isn't el chapos sister wife to one of the beltran brothers if el chapo really betrayed them its pretty fucked up

Anonymous said...

M A L D I T O S C O B A R D E S!

D A M N C O W A R D S!

Anonymous said...

I say people of Mexico remember Don Alejo he should serve as a figure to look up to and admire. Think about it he was only one man. Gather your family and town people plan and execute.
God bless

Anonymous said...

Thanks to those that answered my question regarding the war in laredo.

It seems this lady has had more juevos than most of the men in Mexico to stand up to the cartel. More balls than i have really. I sit in the US pissed at the cartels but don't do anything.

As for how they found her identity you can find people via their ip address. Mine and everyone posting on here is known to the Borderland beat people. we are only anonymous to each other.

Anonymous said...

Zeta's are scum. They deserve death. They are pure sub-human garbage.

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