Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico's Blog del Narco Author is Revealed as a Young Woman

Friday, April 5, 2013 |


Borderland Beat

Vaya Con Dios, "Lucy!" y Blog del Narco!

This story was produced in partnership with the Guardian, where a version of this story also appears.

For three years Blog de Narco has chronicled Mexico's drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations – and speculation about its author's identity.

Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a "front-row seat" to Mexico's agony over drugs, has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, the horrific violence censored by the mainstream media.
The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.

Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and the Texas Observer – and has revealed that she is, in fact, a young woman.
"I don't think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this," said the blogger, who asked to use pseudonym Lucy to protect her real identity.
"Who am I? I'm in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I'm a journalist. I'm a woman, I'm single, I have no children. And I love Mexico."

This is the first time Lucy has spoken directly about the motivations for running a blog which could cost her her life. In the early days, her male colleague who manages the technical side engaged in a few short, anonymous email exchanges with reporters, but neither has spoken out since.

The telephone interview was arranged through an anonymous intermediary. The Guardian then took steps to verify that Lucy was in control of the blog.


She said she wanted to show the truth of what was happening to help turn the page. "I'm in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that's going on. Because we're not all bad. We're not all narcos. We're not all corrupt. We're not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many (foreign) people think otherwise."

She and her colleague live in daily fear of retribution, either from the cartels or government forces. She revealed that a young man and woman tortured, disembowelled and hung from a bridge in September 2011 – murders which shocked even atrocity-hardened Mexicans – were collaborators on the blog. "They used to send us photographs. That was very hard, very painful." The threats, she said, have recently become more serious.

Despite those fears, however, Lucy has written a book that gives an inside account of the blog and provides the most gruesome, explicit account yet of the mayhem that the cartel wars have brought to Mexico. Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside Mexico's Violent Drug War, is now on sale in English and Spanish, and documents a full year of killings from 2010, a pivotal year.

"I did the book to show what was happening," she said. "When I finished, I was able to breathe, because I had worried about being killed before finishing. But the book is there, it's there on paper, a testament to what we have suffered in Mexico in these years of war."
Adam Parfrey, head of the independent Washington-based publisher Feral House, which specialises in taboo topics, said the book would be bound in a police-tape type band as warning of its contents. "It's gruesome and horrible. It goes far beyond anything I've ever dealt with. It's an important element of what's happening in our southern neighbour."

The inside account of Blog del Narco comes at a sensitive time. President Barack Obama is due to visit Mexico in early May for talks with his counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, who since taking office last December has tamped down confrontations with the drug lords and the ensuing media attention.

Even so, drug-related violence claimed nearly 3,200 lives in his administration's first three months, according to government figures, and in recent weeks killings have spiked along the border, and even in the tourist city of Cancún. Cartels are increasingly sending agents to live and work in US cities such as Chicago, according to recent AP investigation

The legalisation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has intensified pressure on the US government to review its four-decade-old "war" on marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics, much of it trafficked through Mexico.

After President Felipe Calderón declared his own war on Mexico's drug cartels in 2006, sparking turf battles between groups like Sinaloa, La Línea and the Zetas, and bloody interventions by the police and armed forces, who have been accused of siding with criminals. More than 70,000 people died and 27,000 disappeared by the time he finished his term last year.

Intimidation of journalists – dozens have been murdered, often sadistically – neutered news coverage by newspapers, radio and television stations. Massacres, kidnappings, corruption, even pitched battles in city centres, often went unreported.

Blog del Narco sprang up three years ago to fill the vacuum left by cowed journalistic colleagues who could not even report vital information such as narco roadblocks and kidnappings.
Over time, Blog del Narco acquired multiple sources, including drug gangs, and became indispensable reading, drawing more than 3m hits monthly. It provides bulletins, pictures and video of abductions, shootouts, executions and the discovery of bodies as well as severed human heads, limbs and torsos. One video showed cartel members interrogating a captured rival and then decapitating him.

Critics accuse the blog of being a public relations forum for drug dealers, but Lucy said the material showed reality and helped families identify missing relatives. "If it wasn't for the blog often bodies wouldn't be identified."

Narcos occasionally sent photos of them partying with pop stars, but the blog refused to publish such material, she said. The blog takes advertising from car and mobile-phone makers, among others. Lucy has told no friends about her clandestine activity. "My close family knows. No one else."

The blog had come under repeated cyber-attack – the government was more aggressive than narcos in this regard, Lucy said – but the main concern was being identified and captured, either by narcos or government forces who have been accused of multiple abuses.
"We change where we live every month. We've been in basements. It's very difficult. We hide our equipment in different places. If the authorities get close we run."

A sign left by the young couple disembowelled in 2011 in the state of Tamaulipas said the bloggers were next. Lucy had not met the couple but received material from them via email. A few days later, another contributor was killed. A keyboard, mouse and sign mentioning the blog were strewn over the corpse. "It's very painful. But they believed this work was necessary." 

Lucy said it was too soon to judge Peña Nieto's administration but that she had already noted one change. In contrast to Calderón-era officials, who cowed journalists with threats and bribes, the new government appeared to want to do it through repressive laws, she said. The government denies wanting to stifle the media.

"We have thought about quitting the blog thousands of times. But we haven't, because we have to get the message out. They have stolen our tranquility, our dreams, our peace." Lucy said she was tired of living in fear but had no plans to give up the blog. It has spawned other anonymous blogs carrying similar material.

The revelation she was female would surprise many, said Lucy. "It's a strong blow to Mexican machismo and the idea women are weaker, more delicate. There is an expectation for women to always look pretty. But we're much more than that."

She tried to relax, she said, with music, coffee and cigarettes. She missed having a normal life. "My only boyfriend is the blog. A whole phase of my life – boyfriends, going to parties, hanging out with friends – I've missed it. Getting married, having babies – there's not been time to think of any of that."

Lucy hoped the book, which focuses on 2010 and 2011, will stand as a historical record. In addition to stomach-turning photographs, it includes a glossary of terms such as encintado – the binding of a victim with duct tape – and encobijado – wrapping a murdered person in a blanket or sheet. It will initially be on sale only in the US but the publisher, Feral House, hopes Mexican booksellers will stock it.

Lucy said she had recently take a paying job but would continue the blog.
"My plans for the future? To live. That's my hope for the short, medium and long term."


Social media has become an increasingly important source of information on Mexico's drug war, as traditional media have resorted to self-censorship to protect themselves. However, those reporting online also face very serious risks. The dangers faced by bloggers like Lucy is illustrated by the deaths in Tamaulipas, as well as recent threats against sites like Facebook page Valor por Tamulipas, which seems to have been taken down in recent days.
report last year by US NGO Freedom House found many journalists using social media were not taking adequate privacy precautions online. Nearly 70 percent of the journalists surveyed had been threatened.


The book is called "Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexico's Violent Drug War" and will be released in Spanish and English on April 16. 


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60 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Havana is putting herself in the crosshairs showing goodwill towards BDN. Shows she knows she is no better than BDN. A realist.

Anonymous said...

"I'm in my mid-20s,
I live in northern Mexico,
I'm a journalist.
I'm a woman,
I'm single,
I have no children"

that's a lot of information

Anonymous said...

Chivis running two sites??

Anonymous said...

In my mind I always thought it was run by twenty something guys. Not shocking at all to find this out. I mean seriously why not a woman. I had no idea Chivas was a woman when I first started with this board.

Anonymous said...

hang in there Lucy. the world is watching. Shame on the Mexican Gov for looking the other way. One day the criminal elected officials will stand trial for treason by a jury of their peers.

Anonymous said...

Good one BB! Showing solidarity for the cause of Mexico! I am glad to see it! That is the whole point. You've risen a step in my opinion!

Anonymous said...

Sounds good! Thanks for the tip. Good idea. I hope they don't get them. They'll probably kidnap them next year after they move into new corporate offices with new computers and fatter bank accounts from royalties. The publishers need to watch getting hacked.

Highest Yoga Tantra said...

2013 ▪ 04 ▪ 05

It is still very risky for «Lucy» to reveal her identity as these cartels have a number of IT Specialists who are able to find out the IP address, location, etc . . . reminder that several bloggers, journalists have been kidnapped & found decapitated in N.E. Mexico in the past 2 yrs. Blessings from Dharma protectors to Madame Chivis et al to stay safe and sound . . .

/\__/\
(=';'=)
(")_(")

Anonymous said...

I never thought about the narco blog being a girl or boy. I guess a a couple of techies is more what I thought. I hope this doesn't get her caught or blood is on your hands, Havana!

another bullshit blog del narco story said...

too bad this story is bullshit. The blogger was outed by a guy who was pissed that blog de narco stole all his work and passed it off as blog del narco. the guy is in monterrey mexico and is almost 30 years old. his photo and name were printed. this is another of narco's bs games and you fell for it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

No, that was a false story about guy from Monterrey. BDN likes a good game though, I agree. This may be legit. If not whoever is pretty, pretty smart on this one. I wish her/ them buena suerte

whatever said...

Chivis why would you put this up on the main page when you've called B.S. on it numerous times on the forum. You said it is a dude ruinnings it and his name and location were outed last year as revenge for plagiarizing someone's work? I'm confused.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I'm a journalist. I'm a woman, I'm single, I have no children. And I love Mexico."
From what I've seen on BDN and if I fit this demographic, I would flee the area now. These sick bastards will kill you if you meet only one of these qualifications and "loving Mexico" wont be enough to save you.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the interview is with the "Mother Jones" of Texas, so only twenty hippies in Austin will see the headline but they'll be too stoned to read an article/interview without National Geographic style pictures. Of course, the Guardian's editorial staff will hang mexican drug violence on the Cowboy Bush and the Texas Observer editor will blame it on NAFTA, Reagan, all the Bushes, Perry, Walmart, gun manufacturers, oil, man-made global warming and the Tea Party.

Anonymous said...

cartels pay good money to chinese or russian hacckers to trackdown blog admins.

Anonymous said...

@12:41 PM I guess that means it hit quite the wide variety, cross mix of people then? Well, all the better for their stereotyped demographics. A pretty smart plan.

Anonymous said...

Really, 1:05, why would they hire foreigners when they have a network of hackers with just as good hacking capabilities as Russians or Chinese hackers do?

Anonymous said...

No, not a dude outted last year. That story was actually bullshit. It was planted as a red herring. That is true, 100% true.

Anonymous said...

BDN takes plenty of hard work. Just observe these blogs for a week and u know it isn't one guy in a basement in Montrrey. More like four in Nuevo Laredo.

Anonymous said...

Hasta parese que soy yo jajajaajjaja

Anonymous said...

a person on bb forum posted truth

http://borderland-beat-forum.924382.n3.nabble.com/Blo-del-Narco-Plagiarism-at-it-s-finest-td4045564.html

Anonymous said...

10:40 AM- u r right. That is why I'm thankful for every story/article because they take a risk posting for us! And I appreciate each and every one of them. I fear for Chivis especially. She let's it all right out there. Nothing better happen to her or I might lose it.

Another thing 10:40 AM - I love your enoji cat-thanks for including it and others before ( I assume they are yours). - C U!

Anonymous said...

Haha, I have got to admit, Chivis is a good writer but anyone who knows her knows that "Lucy" IS NOT chivis

whatever said...

@1:55


ding ding ding! we have a WlNNER!!!

Anonymous said...

It may be the truth, but who really cares who wrote a piece as long as the infirmation gets out there? The writer may care, but this is the internet 2013 and it is not like they think they're publishing great literature working for a mexican daily covering narco fatalities. They are working fast, fast fast with sometimes no editting and we sometimes are quick to point out. Isn't the point getting the news out to the greatest number of people? And I think BDN does that. It may not always be pretty bot they do that.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest comments on the forum from years ago was a really snobby one at that from Havana. And a funny way of looking at the situation. She said, "You won't catch me not leaving sources-god forbid anyone would think I wrote the inarticulate shit! I put links to show I didn't write it! I'm happy to post it though!" Twisted way of looking at it. I look at her posts with all the darn links and I think back to that remark.

jusme said...

Good if it is. The more confused people are about her/his identity, the better. It'll make that person all that much harder to find.

Anonymous said...

Interesting is all I have to say and the Trib and Guardian wouldn't go out on a limb lthis much unless they had verification. Good read.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Lucy, she gave away too much information.

K_Mennem said...

You can read more on the Blog del Narco controversy here, on the BB-Forum

http://borderland-beat-forum.924382.n3.nabble.com/Blo-del-Narco-Plagiarism-at-it-s-finest-td4045564.html

Anonymous said...

Ive been following blog del narco since it started and from a remember the person who runs the blog is a guy and is from new mexico

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for Lucy, the only thing the world is doing, is watching...

Anonymous said...

I hope Lucy is not located in Reynosa Matamoros area.

Anonymous said...

Wrong blog! Got 'em mixed up, dude.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the erased comments? Someone picking on "Lucy" or Chivis, Havana or all three?

Anonymous said...

BB wishes "Lucy" well. She should know no matter if we love or hate or are complerely indifferent to Blog Del Narco ( which is impossible), we wish no harm to come to Lucy or her collegues.

Anonymous said...

Where is everyone? Left for the the forum?

Anonymous said...

And who is the author of Borderland Beat, how about reporting on that?

Anonymous said...

For real.they might as well put it in an ad in the newspaper or on a billboard damn

Anonymous said...

She gave too much info which leads me to believe that its made up.

Anonymous said...

But this just can`t be smart, it says "I'm in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I'm a journalist. I'm a woman, I'm single, I have no children". She`s lying, right? All this has to be random made-up info or else she should be worried right now. Why would she share all that, it`s just stupid.

Havana Pura said...

to 8:12 PM

You can read these posts in the forum that DD put up in the forum about Borderland Beat.

Birth of Borderland Beat

http://borderland-beat-forum.924382.n3.nabble.com/The-Birth-Of-Borderland-Beat-td4045530.html

The Sheepdog who is Buggs

http://borderland-beat-forum.924382.n3.nabble.com/The-Sheepdog-Who-is-Buggs-td4045529.html

And 1:05 AM- It is said she has been verified a woman. But all the other information like being single, no children, living in Mexico, etc. may not be true at all.

TX in MTY said...

I would also like a report on Buggs and Chivis. And the other reporters. BB is the first narco English blog that I am aware of, I think late 2009?

Buggs has an interesting story I just read on forum. I also read an interview with him in an American newspaper. Chivis' is unique she is an anonymous reporter who is a humanitarian working with disadvantage children in Mexico I read her story in the post here on BB about her journey into San Miguel Tamaulipas to take relief to the Mier Refugees. Some of the reporters live full time in Mexico.

Money is not the motive of BB that I can see. Money has been the motive of bdn and mundo from the launch. and like someone says on forum no woman is going to allow the nasty stank degrading photos of women on her blog like there has been on bdn.

This is fake. give them credit their goal was to make a lot of money and they worked the pr with fiction and made it happen first with advertising and now this. these are a group of guys around 28 years old grads from Tec all come from wealthy families. They care little about the war. a book on ValorXTamps or the #Reynosa group should be done they are real and the heroes of mexico. Not this made up Lucy.

Many of us tried post on Tex Observer-guardian so they check the facts and sent evidence and they took it down.

They want the story not the truth.

Anonymous said...

"Lucy said she has taken a paying job but would continue the blog. Her plans for the future are "to live."

I think she is out of there and her collegues are running it. Or they are all out of there N of the border temporarily.She may be somewhere safer while her book creates publicity spurring hackers etc. to compete looking for them. She hasn't stayed alive this long by letting her guard down now. Just a thought. I don't know. She may be like the Girl with the dragon tatoo ir a middle age housewife relocated to Chicago. I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Chivis did not put this up, Havana did. It tells you at the bottom

Havana Pura said...

11:48
All I can say is it is still there on the Texas Observer and the Guardian. The link is to their main page. I didn't link you to the story. They didn't take either down as of 6:35 PM

http://www.texasobserver.org/

and

the Guardian
http://www.guardiannews.com/

But look fast because this is getting to be an old and stale story.

Anonymous said...

.
For any of you who want to know something more about Blog del Narco ask yourself HOW something like these following 4 fotos are PERMITTED to be posted and remain online for everybody to see. We read from left to right ¿¿and how do these fotos read, what story do they tell you??

Look for "No soy seucrates" as blog member who posted the 4 fotos:

http://www.blogdelnarco.com/2013/04/un-narcotopeton-deja-un-sicario-muerto-y-dos-heridos-en-villa-de-cos-zacatecas/#more-18517

Is it an invitation to PROMOTE 'Pedophilia'?

Link number two:
Now go toward almost the bottom of this new page ¿and what do you see? The same child and the foto series End With Bestiality!

http://www.blogdelnarco.com/2013/04/ejecutan-a-un-policia-auxiliar-en-guerrero/#more-18475

If you search for Blog Del Narco Terms of Use it lists the terms, one of which is -->> "Your community must not be focused on or around pornographic, sexual, vulgar, racist, abusive or obscene subject areas" <<--

On that page I sent them an e.mail with the links I've shared with you folks here yet the fotos remain for all to see!! Is somebody or some agency trying to demoralize Mexicans? (war tactics)

Anonymous said...

I think Tex-MTY is saying people have tried to post comments with information about Blog del narco and what they truly are and the papers have removed anything about those things. People have been complaining about that. the last sentence says "Many of US TRIED TO POST on Tex Observer-guardian so they check the facts and sent evidence and they took it down. They want the story not the truth" that what i got from the comment not that the story was taken down. That is what many people are saying is they posted comments and they were taken down.

Anonymous said...

5:43 why even go there?

Anonymous said...

7:36
Who would want to look that closely, dude? You weird or something?

Anonymous said...

Hey my friend has written two comments and she knows Blog del Narco and mentioned maybe you don't know all the circumstances and not everything appears as it seems. She is reliable and you should let her comments on because they are legit, smart with private knowledge. She wrote two yesterday and two today. They never get on! Then she heard you censor. Is that true? I said no.

Chivis said...

That is very hard to believe. We did have to delete quite a few nasty comments. and there is more but there are only 80 left to mod so I can check. We moderate comments and not all get on, and sometimes there is not enough time. Today there were hundreds. Blogger format has the oldest displayed last so they can be out of sequence in posting them. Don't know..but your friend can try again or email me and I can post it, if it is that important. I am trying my best but I am swamped. My apologies to your firend I will look now to see if there are any for this post still waiting.

Chivis said...

ok...just for you I checked. There were 3 one was deleted because it was just an attack on forum, that can be done in forum. and the other 2 I posted

Anonymous said...

borderlandbeat is a lot better than blog del narco..

Anonymous said...

6:56 PM, let us Work Together in making this world a long lasting healthy place / planet to live on, Let Us CELEBRATE 'Life' in whatever way we can and make this miracle of being born here (with such an abundance of blessings) available to the OUR New Born Babies, let us inspire one another and play any small part we can in trying to establish what we ourselves want as a world based on healthy desires that lead to INNER Freedom

Wishing all of you the best,

Salva P.

Saludos!!

Chivis said...

To the reader writing after 1AM :)
I cannot grant your request to remove the comment because I have no way to determine that you actually wrote it. Perhaps you did not like it? You are welcome to write a comment expressing your disagreement with it, but that is all I can do to be fair. Saludos, Chivita

Anonymous said...

Chivis im a borderbeat blogger fan.lol but many of us post comments for the publics and readears own good &2help em with their expierience if they ever step or visite our neihbor country mexico like what parts of town to visite or just know what their exposed 2&by u not posting them is like u helping zetas&cdg keep a secret and collaboration lmfo u guys are corrupt2 us americans wont put up with this type of action

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