Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico's Drug Cartels Love Social Media

Friday, November 8, 2013 |

Borderland Beat
 
Not new but thought important to post on main.
 
By Joseph Cox 
"Broly", an alleged member of the Knights Templar Cartel, posing for a selfie with his handgun. (All images courtesy of Antoine Nouvet / Open Empowerment Initiative.)

Members of Mexico's drug cartels are really starting to harness the power of the internet, using it to run positive PR campaigns, post selfies with their pistols, and hunt down targets by tracking their movements on social media.

Antoine Nouvet from the SecDev Foundation, a Canadian research organization, has been working with drug policy think-tank the Igarapé Institute on a project called the Open Empowerment Initiative. The project looks into "how cyberspace is empowering individuals and rewiring relations in Latin America" and has uncovered a wealth of information about how cartels are using the internet to their own nefarious ends.

Some gold weapons posted on a cartel member's Facebook page.

The first point Antoine touched on was how cartels have utilized cyberspace in much the same way as a TV company's PR department might: "They advertise their activities, they conduct public relations initiatives, and they have basically turned themselves into their own media company," he explained. "Colombia's cartel groups or drug traffickers in Myanmar in the 1990s were very sophisticated at public relations, but they didn't have this massive broadcasting platform."

Not all cartels want to be seen as the bad guys these days. After Hurricane Ingrid tore across northeastern Mexico in September, the Gulf Cartel uploaded a video to YouTube that showed them distributing aid to those in need. It quickly went viral and has racked up nearly half a million views.

The video-sharing site has also been used as a platform for cartel announcements that, for obvious reasons, aren't usually broadcast by mainstream media. For example, a speech by a leader of the Knights Templar Cartel—a guy known as "La Tuta"—has had over 900,000 views, 60 times the amount of hits received by the Mexican president's September 2013 State of the Union Address (which is dragging its feet at around the 15,000 mark).

The Knights Templar Cartel's Facebook page

The Knights Templar (or "Caballeros Templarios," in Spanish) are particularly seasoned when it comes to social media. The group used to run a Facebook page under the immediately transparent pretense of being a "small business," which gathered over 10,000 Likes and regular messages of support until it was shut down earlier this year.

Of course, there's another way of garnering attention online when your group page gets closed by the mods: incessantly posting selfies of yourself with guns. Antoine pointed me in the direction of a guy calling himself "Broly," who lists his employment history as Knights Templar and has posted photos of his high performance 4x4, his gang of weapon-toting colleagues, and many, many more that are just him pouting and holding firearms.

"Broly" pouting

Other cartel profile highlights include a Twitter account of a prominent member of an "enforcer gang," which contains photos of his gold-plated machine guns; a profile purporting to represent the Sinaloa cartel with pictures of what looks like a pet tiger; and an Instagram photo of a cartel member holding an AK-47 out the window of a sports car. All of these cartel profiles are public—something that must be starting to get slightly humiliating for the law enforcement agencies pumping millions of dollars into catching them.

"Broly" and his friends

Cartels also have analysts working for them, monitoring social media "to find out what Mexicans are saying and keeping an eye on the movement of troops in and out of a city," according to Antoine. Doing so means the bosses can direct their own forces appropriately without picking up any unwanted attention on the ground. Cartels are also using encryption techniques like Onion routing to stay one step ahead of the law. "They are aware of the need to cover their tracks in cyberspace," Antoine said.

It's important to note that the cartels' application of this kind of approach, while relatively new, is far from crude. In May of this year, one half of the duo behind Blog del Narco—the most read and influential blog on Mexico's drug war—disappeared. His partner, who goes under the pseudonym "Lucy," told the Guardian he had called her phone, before saying "run" and hanging up immediately. The pair had agreed to use "run" as a codeword for fleeing the country when things got really dangerous, but it's unknown whether Lucy's partner ever made it out as he hasn't been heard from since.

If the cartels did get to him before he made it across the border, they wouldn't have done so easily. "It has been done by advanced means: reverse hacking and finding out the identity of the people who are behind what are often anonymous posts online," Antoine explained. "It takes some technological savvy to find out who's behind them and then to track them down and kill them in real space."

It's similar technology that would account for the rise of a whole new kind of crime: "express kidnappings," which are typically planned and carried out in a number of hours rather than days and usually don't involve anyone being taken hostage at all.

A car filled with weed.

According to Antoine, "New technologies such as smart-phones are leaving people very vulnerable to kidnappings." After hackers have compromised a device belonging to a target, the target receives a call telling them that their relative has been taken hostage—a claim legitimized with location data and other information taken from the phone. They're also told that they're being watched, with the criminals tracking their whereabouts through GPS. The victim is then told that they must not hang up, before being directed to an ATM and getting in a taxi to head to a meeting point where they've been told to hand over the money.

Once they arrive, the criminals can simply take what they want and drive away, all without leaving the comfort of their keyboard. Of course, this technology could also be used by cartels to very easily trace an assassination target, or even for the hitman to take the lazy approach and lure the mark out to wherever they wanted, before putting a bullet between their eyes and driving off without undertaking any of the traditional legwork.
    
Whatever the outcome, it's achievable with very few resources and was impossible before the increase of cheap, readily available smart phones.

A photo of a cartel member's suped-up 4x4.

However, with the cartels becoming more reliant on the internet, it could also easily become an Achilles' heel. "At the moment it gives them an edge," Antoine told me, "but it could backfire very quickly."

This vulnerability was already demonstrated when Anonymous conducted attacks on the Zetas cartel in 2011, accessing their private data and threatening to reveal members' names. However, the cartel quickly retaliated by "hiring" its own security specialists, and Anonymous backed down after one of its members was allegedly abducted.

Clearly, cartels aren't packing their members off to computer science evening classes at the local community college, and it's likely the more specialized experts have been kidnapped. "They may be engaging young computer scientists in Mexico and giving them a good salary, but if they still require a skill, they just kidnap someone who has it," Antoine explained. "As of 2012, we had at least 36 cases of engineers who were snatched by the cartels, including an IBM employee, never to be seen again."

But even if they're kidnapping the best of Mexico's technological talent, this greater dependence on the internet could be the cartels' eventual downfall. "Technology that benefits the cartels suddenly turns out to be one of their key vulnerabilities," said Antoine. "And that could be the case in Mexico if the government adopts better skills and laws to counter them in cyberspace."

Follow Joseph on Twitter: @josephfcox

Buggs:
There are reports that Antonio Olalde or as he is better known "Broly Banderas" of the CT was either captured by Mexican authorities or killed/injured by sicarios of the CJNG when his right hand man Cesar Lupercio Torres "El Niño de Oro" was found executed.

Picture below of Broly Banderas (Facebook Account) with what appears a captured person behind him.

 Picture of Broly Banderas where he was alleged to have been tortured (seen with apparent injured ear and swollen eye) or wounded:

With patch to his ear, posted on his FB Page yesterday: 
 


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69 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow its as simple as that interesting .

Anonymous said...

This so called broly banderas is not his real name he was reported killed and captured but the last report was was niether killed or captured he still out there kidnaping and killing inocent people unfortunally

Anonymous said...

Acavan de matar al puto del broly

Anonymous said...

Fb status update.........¿porque mamo? Arriba NAFTA culeros

Anonymous said...

All the instagram accounts of sinaloa members r interesting to look at

Anonymous said...

what do you expect when most of the cartel members are under 25.perfect example of this is El Chino Antrax but he has his face covered.@jamesbond5_7 if you care to look...

El TRiple6

Anonymous said...

A family menber was almost Kidnap because od Facebook. Be careful. But this will probably kick the catels asses

Anonymous said...

there's a pic in his facebook account showing a man with a cowboy hat and a woman dressed in leather getting out of a car with bodyguards..are they cartel bosses or something?

Anonymous said...

I hope you govt cheerleaders understand this. You can be tracked down so stop talking shit.

Anonymous said...

I know this is no laughing matter but that broly guy is just too much :) He`s got his duckface on, using colored contact lenses, sooooo feminine, and I suspect he has his own personal hair dresser following him around 24/7, just in case. I have a feeling this is the guy the other narcos laugh at.

Anonymous said...

The photo with his ear and blood, you can see the fear in his eyes.
The old saying, what comes around, goes around.

Anonymous said...

los del caf les dan en la madre a estos putos michuacanos

Anonymous said...

Pinche punal este, que se Las mama alos que rapta ese templado

Anonymous said...

i just realized that he named him self after a dragon ball z character and is even trying to look like him. with the long hair and blue contacts. how pathetic

Anonymous said...

he's probably going to dye his hair blond at one point and think hes a super saiyan. (dragon ball z)

Anonymous said...

What a metro sexual hahaa I bet he rocks a pink scarf and accessories to match his hair ribbons lol the real felony here is his fashion sense. Yea the fashion police need to execute him on the spot

Anonymous said...

ese broly es massss putooooo!

Anono said...

It doesn't exist( make sure spelling and capitals are correct)

Anonymous said...

Fag selfie pics...

Anonymous said...

What next? They gonna start their version of match.com next? As far as tracking me goes i have a solution for that.ill just throw out all my electronics.what they gonna track then? This includes the gvt

Anonymous said...

He really likes that purple shirt.

Anonymous said...

Yep, that fucker is dead.

Anonymous said...

Well, there he is. Fucking puto bragging off the money that he steals from the poorest of the poor, who spend their lives picking avocado and lemons just so that these fucking bastards spend it on fancy cars. The woman that appears blindfolded behind this prick was decapitated, probably by this asshole and his buddies.

Anonymous said...

Hola estupido pendejo, u live by da gunn, ju dy by da gunn!! Pendejo wei!!!Pasa con el diablo!!

Anonymous said...

Pretty boy got his ear cut off. He ain't so pretty now, is he?

Anonymous said...

Lol !!!!
Pobre pendejo...ruega por attencion...lol
Can someone with fb please give him a big wet "like".... hahaha
--Dont believe EVERYTHING you see in pics--

Anonymous said...

Dude looks like he pulled his sexuality bus onto the freeway without bothering to look which was traffic was headed! About as feminine looking cartel member as you will ever see!

Anonymous said...

He must have gotten bored after his stint on "That 70s Show" ended. Nothin' like a little murder and mayhem to break up the monotony.

Anonymous said...

I laugh at all these cartel members with their online pictures of them with guns trying to look tough.

Anonymous said...

He wears eye makeup in many pics on his facebook page. Pinche puto.

Anonymous said...

So, how is cartel members posting stupid shit on face book any different than all the rest of the normal world who also is infatuated with posting incredibly stupid shit on Facebook? Dumbass article.

Anonymous said...

These guy's are exactly the same type of Gangsters that are up here where I live. They tweeze their eyebrows, get leg waxes and carry around man purses with handguns in them they are totally laughable yet ultra violent scumbags.

They are the new breed of gangster known as heatbags. Everywhere they go they give off so much heat the cops and informants flock to them. They never last more than 2-3 years in the game before they are dead or in jail no surprise this guy was already killed. Next time don't be such a heat seeking missile, and stop kidnapping and extorting the people.

I see he is using encrypted radio, but I bet the camera he is using is a smartphone camera which means he can be easily traced, and easy to turn on mic to listen in the car to what they are saying. Bunch of fall down goofs wannabes.

Anonymous said...

Just go on Facebook and search for broly, you'll find him.

Anonymous said...

Ya vez guero de tijuana aka gente de tijuana aka gallo de tijuana que SI pueden dar contigo por andar de manguera.La neta compita que me causan risa tus comentarios.Yo vivo en la Zonaja y creeme que lo que comentas son puras fantacias tuyas parejita!Diciendo que los Chinolas le mandaran flores a la familia del recien caido!Acaso tu las llevastes personalmente?La neta parejita,los que SI andan saben y conocen lo que pasa aqui en Tijuas se quedan callados.NADIE,pero NADIE tiene autorizacion de dar informes a la prensa!Asi que ya sabe como corren los galgos por la Zonaja.

Anonymous said...

I heard Broly was captured and beat up by CJNG. They cought him in his suped up suv blasting mana while taking selfies. The only reason they didn't kill him is that they felt he was honoring Jalisco while rocking to rayando el sol?

Anonymous said...

That raptor

Anonymous said...

@5:18am

Not really if you know what you're doing, tracking is overated.

Anonymous said...

@4:26 p.m because most of the ppl who post stupid shit on fb dont go around stealing from poor ppl and decapitating them.theyre just idiots posting stupid shit not like the narco assholes!

Anonymous said...

El changuito tambien tiene uno. Tambien el mayito gordo, mini lic, la liebre, tito guzman beltran, chavo felix. Casi todos tienen

Anonymous said...



Culeros facistas , and where is their bandera? Puro criminal culeros that would potentially rape You, Your wife , Your daughter or whoever. And hide behind the tri color of Mexico that protects them and their evil. Some real sick azzholes.Better souls died on ALL sides in the trenches of WWI . These are pure satanic fascists that worship satan. Said it before ..... all they care about is the new Ford 4x4. & $$$$$$ Mexico is a whorehouse where revolutionary ideas of your forefathers are sold in alleys by vendors of capitalism. These bastards are fascist satan worshippers That have no opposing force to stop them .

Anonymous said...

Can anyone confirm if his dead or alive?

Anonymous said...

Don't throw your shit away sell it to an FBI agent lo

Anonymous said...

He's alive

Anonymous said...

http://www.debate.com.mx/eldebate/movil/detalle_noticia.asp?idArt=10009128&IdCat=6109

Random. But wanted to share thid about pancho arce. This was before 3 months before he wss killed. Notice his antrax ring too.

Anonymous said...

These guys are gay actors. The real Cartel does not show their faces.
You think Chapo wants pics of him all over the inter net.

Anonymous said...

I thought Broly was Tuta's boy toy? Any info on that?

Anonymous said...

@November 10, 2013 at 10:22 AM

She is. And she's proud of that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous didn't hack into zetas network, they have annonymous in mexico & they spoke to people who knew who they were & they were going to reveal the names but obviously never did for the fear of bloodshed of innocent people.

Anonymous said...

Ahh man u made my day...jajaja funny than a matha cracker..he looks so fuckin gay in those piktures las lokas templarias they will suk yo pipi to death lol kool man,

Anonymous said...

Not pics but fake ass corridos yes!!!!fuk sinaloa and all u hipocrites

Anonymous said...

The picture of Broly with the ear wound was when he was shot by CJNG.

Anonymous said...

ha ha dile al broly que el goku lo anda buscando para partirle su cara. ha haha

Anonymous said...

ja ja ja good one

Anonymous said...

Very dangerous trend...It's like a P.R page for showing to others how much money, power and fun these guys are having being narcos . I bet the cartel used a useless dispensable asshole to be the so called" Fun Guy Prop" .
It's a sham and bunch of lies to attract new recruits so that they can become Cannon Fodder for Narco Cartel leaders like Tuta.

Anonymous said...

Queer eye for the narco guy.

Putito.

Anonymous said...

Pinche Broly, esta chapetuda la huerca, se me hace que yo si le clavo todo el tronco hasta los aguacates! Arriba Michoacan!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

U from Canada bro where the goofs do the same heaty shit

Anonymous said...

I'm telling you peeps, go onto youtube and type in mexican pointy boots for the true cartel badasses, these boys take stupid to the next ten levels of insanity

Anonymous said...

@November 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Chapo snitched their boots.

Anonymous said...

******LA BITCH*****

.........like in 10 seconds or die a horrible death!!!! Lol! !!

Anonymous said...

12:33 mamas porque te gusta,pinchi broli,y que?no eres la unica,mamacita,dress toda una mariposa monarca de las que hay nomas en michoacan con tus alototas como las de Walter Mercado.lo malo es que ahora todos los policias "quieren" contigo pero todo sea por la belleza...sorry que te mataron al puchacacas,el nino de oro,ya te hallaras otro...

Anonymous said...

Joseph Cox . I bet you made his death warrant when you don this article. Na he made his own . He looks like a fool because he is a fool . I would be really surprised if he makes another couple months. Probably be disappointed . I am a gringo but I am on the side of the good people of Mexico . I hope the government purges all these rats that rob extort steal rape and kidnap . They will never take control permanently . I don't believe there is justice in the universe but I think these dirt bags like this will pay with his life . Is that justice ? No a single worthless rat isn't worth a fraction of one of the many good people they kill . I say just exterminate them and forget about justice .

Anonymous said...

Broly is still alive..although thats not his actual name.
I've reported his account to FACEBOOK several times.
Yet he is posting all kinds of crap.
The massacres that occur in mexico are truly tragic.
Humanity the world needs to see what is really going on.


PANCHO

Anonymous said...

There is a website where the only thing it does is track what devices are online, as soon as the device is in the net it is "sniffed" out, it tells what kind it is, what the ip is etcetera. It can be a phone, a home security system, a power grid, a traffic light system wherever something is on the net it has to go through a server and all of that can be seen by whoever.

Anonymous said...

LmaO definitely not your typical bastard thug... his rivals probably get a few good laughs at his expense!!

Anonymous said...

This is so stupid...feel bad for everyone. I feel that central Americans have, ofcourse, native American blood-Aztec and Mayan. These people were still wild 500 yrs ago... I believe they are still very emotionally undeveloped. Even some responses of the readers which are Mexican are shouting cartel names and death wishes. this truly shows the ignorance of the Mexican people submitting themselves to the clever minds of a few that have a knack for business, even though this happens everywhere (u.s. oil war for example). I cannot believe that this is planet earth and this is what people inherently are given the right circumstances. If there is a god, and if you made us in your image please forgive us we are only human.

Anonymous said...

Can't lay all the blame on the Aztecs or Mayans. The bloody Spaniards had plenty of dead bodies on their hands, both before and after Columbus.

Archangel13 said...

Broly if you are reading this I would love to talk to you I'm not on facebook but if you respond we can contact directly

Anonymous said...

Yea me too. Azul lotto for eave yahy yah yahy

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