Monday, November 14, 2011

Mexican Drug Cartel Kills Blogger

This post originally appeared at Mobiledia.

Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel killed another blogger, continuing its unrelenting war against persistent citizen journalists fighting the underground organization on social media at any cost.


Zetas’ latest victim, a man who moderated the Nuevo Laredo En Vivo whistle-blowing website, was found beheaded at a busy intersection with a nearby note reading, “This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks.”

The blogger is the fourth citizen journalist in the last months to suffer the same fate as others reporting on Zetas’ activities. In September, the cartel posted similar signs next to two men’s bodies warning, “This is going to happen to all Internet snitches. Pay attention, I’m watching you.”

Zetas, infamous for its brutality, has contributed significantly to the approximately 45,000 deaths resulting from Mexico’s drug wars since 2006. The cartel also threatens media outlets with unpleasant consequences unless they report news as directed, prompting citizens to read blogs for more reliable information.

The high cost of speaking out against Zetas online has deterred many from attempting to do so, including Anonymous hacktivists, though some continue to resist.

On November 1, the collective announced #OpCartel, a plan to unmask 100 of Zetas’ government collaborators in retaliation for their kidnapping of an Anonymous member in Veracruz.

Security company Strafor, however, warned Anonymous, “Los Zetas are deploying their own teams of computer experts to track those individuals involved in the online anti-cartel campaign, which indicates that the criminal group is taking the campaign very seriously.”

Anonymous called off the operation on November 2. Two days later, according to the group’s informal spokesman Barett Brown, the cartel returned the kidnapped hacker with a note saying Zetas would kill 10 people for every one collaborator exposed.

Most Anons decided to back away from the planned attack, but others are still fighting against Zetas. After its moderator’s death, Nuevo Laredo En ViVo posted, “Let’s continue denouncing them, now that we’ve seen it burns them, hurts them. We have to continue. We can’t give in.”

Others share the same sentiment, like Borderland Beat, a reputedly reliable website that functions like a terrorist cell to prevent its members from learning each others’ identities for safety purposes.

Blog del Narco, a popular citizen journalist page, has survived because it doesn’t take sides, even allowing Zetas members to post murder videos on its site.

The online fight against corruption continues, albeit more clandestinely than Anonymous’ planned #OpCartel. But with such high risks, more bloggers may die before Zetas ever topples.

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