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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the hashtag-i'm-the-one-who-knocks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The drug cartels operating in Mexico have often been compared to large corporations, with their own codified leadership hierarchy, recruitment methods, and accounting practices. But part of any big corporation's playbook is a marketing/PR plan. The cartels have long operated a version of those, too, by threatening journalists and killing civilians who speak up. Like any corporation these days, the drug cartels have recognized the power of social media, and they're using it more and more to propagate their messages of intimidation and violence. Quoting: 'Six days after Beltran Leyva's death, gunmen murdered family members of the only Mexican marine killed in the apartment complex siege — including the marine's mother. That same day, a fire was set at a nearby school where a banner was flown, warning that more killings would follow if the federal government made any further attempts to interfere in cartel actions. Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.'"
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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @02:13AM (#46636921)

    Sometimes good folks have something to hide. Their identities from bad folks.

  • I hope the local police / government doesn't give in to this intimidation. What's next?

    • Demands for more funding and more prison space, of course.

    • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @03:36AM (#46637171) Homepage Journal
      I have wondered how far the Cartels will push the government before they just decide to cut the military loose with a death list that includes anyone even remotely involved with the Cartels. At some point the society as a whole is going to get scared/angry and demand a harsh crackdown. When tanks start rolling your million dollar estates, all the AK-47s in the world aren't going to save you.

      In any event, it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        The cartels are armed with much better weapons than AK-47s...

        And the Mexican Army lacks much in the way of a modern tank force, nor would tanks do that much good in cities anyway. They are useful, but not as much as you'd think...

        What might be more helpful would be a US Army invasion, but that is another matter... :)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Without the cartels there to provide the evil boogyman of 'drugs'...

          We're going to wise up that we employ millions of law enforcment people who provide no useful thing for our country.

          You think we're going to give up that cash cow anytime soon? The US goverment is one of the drug cartels biggest supporters.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          To my knowledge, Mexico possesses an air force. Air forces are used to drop bombs on enemy locations using airplanes (and to use other airplanes to protect the ones carrying bombs).

          It really can't be that hard to figure out where these cartels operate from. Once you know that, the solution is simple: drop bombs on them. You can't have an operating cartel if their mansions and other bases are blown to smithereens.

          • by mjwx (966435)

            To my knowledge, Mexico possesses an air force. Air forces are used to drop bombs on enemy locations using airplanes (and to use other airplanes to protect the ones carrying bombs).

            It really can't be that hard to figure out where these cartels operate from. Once you know that, the solution is simple: drop bombs on them. You can't have an operating cartel if their mansions and other bases are blown to smithereens.

            The Israeli's try this all the time. Assassination by rocket fired from AH64.

            Despite Israeli intelligent being quite good (I.E. identifying when the target is home and vulnerable) quite a few of the assassinated turn up a few months later alive and well.

            The point here is, bombs and rockets are very imprecise weapons and killing a specific individual you need to be 100% accurate.

            Beyond this, after the first assassination happens the drug barons will just put the military chiefs on the payroll... if

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              The Israeli's try this all the time. Assassination by rocket fired from AH64.
              Despite Israeli intelligent being quite good (I.E. identifying when the target is home and vulnerable) quite a few of the assassinated turn up a few months later alive and well.

              There's some problems with this comparison. Israel is fighting against "terrorists" (or whatever you choose to call them) who live in an economically depressed area, and don't have a lot of money (or if they do, they don't spend it on fancy mansions, they s

              • by mjwx (966435)

                The Israeli's try this all the time. Assassination by rocket fired from AH64.
                Despite Israeli intelligent being quite good (I.E. identifying when the target is home and vulnerable) quite a few of the assassinated turn up a few months later alive and well.

                There's some problems with this comparison. Israel is fighting against "terrorists" (or whatever you choose to call them) who live in an economically depressed area, and don't have a lot of money (or if they do, they don't spend it on fancy mansions, they spend it on rockets and bombs instead).

                I'm happy calling them terrorists (well a spade is a spade).

                But the analogy stands because you have a standing military force facing a powerful paramilitary force. Further more, after you begin bombing and killing civilians (yep, there will be civilian deaths) you will turn the drug lords into saviours of the people simply because they now oppose the government that is now killing innocent civilians. The people who opposed them would now flock to their cause.

                That is, if any military operation was remo

                • by Grishnakh (216268)

                  Further more, after you begin bombing and killing civilians (yep, there will be civilian deaths)

                  No, there won't! This is the part you're not getting. There are no innocent civilians at remote gated mansions. You can bomb them with impunity.

                  You need to lose your hard on for war. They never work out as planned.

                  So what's your solution? Talk to the drug lords and convince them to change their ways?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When tanks start rolling your million dollar estates, all the AK-47s in the world aren't going to save you.

        A) The drug cartels have anti tank weapons.
        B) They aren't above going after the friends and families of the soldiers.
        C) The million dollar estates are likely to be empty by the time the tanks get there. It's not like the cartels doesn't have people both in the police force and in the military.
        D) Why would the government send the military loose on the cartels? That would just remove the bribes the politicians are receiving while endangering their friends and families.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        Easier and cheaper just to do it wild west style. Put up "Wanted, Dead or Alive" posters of all the top cartel guys. Offer big money for them and let the bounty hunters do the job.

        • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@carp a n e t . net> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:33AM (#46638015) Homepage

          If you think that is easy and cheap....I have this bridge in NYC for sale, and man is it a steal!

          You seriously think someone putting up those posters wont be found hanging from a brige with posters nailed to his corpse? These Cartels are not street gangs like we have street gangs now. They are better armed, better funded, and in some cases....are the police.

          Shit the Zetas, ever heard of them? They were started by police.

          There is no easy way out now that these monsters have been created. Created by naieve people seeking simple solutions. People who thought they could enforce away drug problems.... they failed to change addiction rates (their basic goal) and instead, created violent street gangs...here and around the world.

          Now this is the result. The same result as alcohol prohibition gave us, except amplified because instead of a short 15 or so years, its been going on for generations now.

          Frankly, every single one of those drug warriers who created this situation deserve to be strung up from their necks in appreciation for the mess they made while trying and failing to control people's desires.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by meta-monkey (321000)

            The zetas scare me shitless. I've heard people say there's no such thing as "evil" in the world, but those people have never read up on the zetas. Cold, cold sweat shit.

            The way to win the war on drugs is to make drugs legal so there's no longer that 17,000% profit motive, but that isn't happening any time soon because the American prison, weapons and law enforcement industries make too much money off illegal drugs.

            • by operagost (62405)

              You'd think the people who are for prohibition based on the deaths and illness caused by illegal drugs, would realize that shifting the deaths from the people who are responsible for their own fate onto the peaceful people caught in the crossfire is not a superior outcome.

              The results of the drug prohibition experiment, from the worldwide laboratory, prove that government meddling in the human right to self-determination results in evil.

              • Oh yeah, you'd think. "But what about the children?!?" Yeah, what about the children in Mexico who's parents get their damn heads chopped off and delivered to them in a box?

          • by rahvin112 (446269)

            There is a very simple way out. It's called the end of prohibition.

            In no time at all the cartels will be starved of the money they need to operate, without the millions in cash they can't pay the security and they cant bribe the government officials. The result will be a massive loss of the men that make up their force and a government suddenly willing to tackle taking down the key players.

            • by TheCarp (96830)

              Except they already have the money. The real truth is likely that you are half right. However, they will not be "tackled". No, they will take their money, and existing expertise, and become the next version Kennedy and Rockefeller families.

              40 years down the line, Mexico will be electing their children to office.

              • by rahvin112 (446269)

                They won't be the next Rockefeller, Kennedy or Bush. The multinationals will run them out of business overnight. As soon as pot is legal Philip Morris is going to start selling machine rolled joints in handy cellophane wrapped packs and cartons just like they do cigarettes and in the process nearly every boutique pot grower/seller will be out business overnight. The cartels don't have the expertise, nor will they wind their organizations down quickly enough that the existing profits won't be eaten alive.

                Unl

      • by crtreece (59298)

        how far the Cartels will push the government before they just decide to cut the military loose

        Using some of their giant stream of incoming cash to bribe top govt and military officials means the cartel leaders don't have to worry about this. I expect they just consider bribes as one of the costs of doing business.

      • by ikhider (2837593)
        Haha, silly children. The Mexican army is in on it too. So is the government. Drugs bring in more money than tourism, crops, and oil combined. So is the US government and a lot of civil servants. This is business. American style.
    • by Solandri (704621)
      A lot of the police/government are on the cartels' payroll.

      That's the problem with endemic corruption. If you try to fix just one part of it, the other parts resist. You have to somehow simultaneously fix all of it.
      • And they have to be. If you're a new cop who's gonna "make a difference!" and "fight drugs!" in Mexico, what happens right after you start walking your beat is a dude pulls you aside and says, "hey, friend, there's two ways we can do this. You take this money right here, and we'll make sure your block is safe, your home is safe, or, you refuse to take this money and we kill you, but not until we chop off the heads and rip out the tongues of every person you love. So, which is it gonna be, pal? You gonna be

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Local police?

      Government?

      The cartel killed the local police and turned the local government into slaves years ago.

      Mexico makes Somali look like a day care.

      The mexican military either works for/with them, or is deathly afraid of them ... because they'll kill you ... your mother and 3 generations in every direction from you, and then ... then they threaten to get nasty.

  • and use the content as evidence for criminal intimidation and the etc. !!!!
    To think of it ..social media ?? pfft .. the firey banner seems more "cartely" ..
    • by PPH (736903)

      Won't do much good. The social media officers in these cartels are expendable. Track one by their login credentials and apprehend them. And they'll just be replaced by the next one.

      They won't turn on their employers either. The cartel penalty for testifying is far worse then that for not cooperating with the authorities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @02:51AM (#46637059)

    All it would take is a single strike of the pen to remove the cartels' entire purpose for existing, along with the massive societal benefits of no more overcrowding in prisons, no more lives being ruined because of absurd and unjust laws, the possible breakthroughs which can never happen so long as the research is illegal, and the reversal of the militarization of police forces around the country. Prohibition is a proven failure, and factually creates criminals out of innocent people and problems where there were none before.

    There is absolutely no benefit to prohibition (and even if there were, they're negligible compared to all the problems it creates) - it should be repealed immediately.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @03:04AM (#46637089) Journal
      No, it's not about drugs, because Canada has all the same drug trafficking issues, but without the violence (really, look up the estimates of how much marijuana comes to the US from Canada).

      Mexico has had violence and gangs of some sort or another for hundreds of years. Just think of the legendary El Guapo [youtube.com] and Santa Ana, about whom songs have been written.

      When drugs are gone, you still have the kidnappings and the corruption. People in the US get upset when the police taze someone; compare that to Mexican police.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        they would still fight without the narco money.

        BUT and here is the big but, they would have to start farming something profitable and do actual business in their turfs(towns, really). try paying the henchmen in few bags of corn and see if it works out..

      • by pitchpipe (708843) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @04:19AM (#46637287)

        When drugs are gone, you still have the kidnappings and the corruption.

        I really doubt that you would have it on the same level as we have it today, but I don't think that is the reason to legalize drugs.

        We should legalize drugs because it is the right thing to do. The drug laws are a relic of the past when people thought that it was okay to legislate their brand of morality. We now know that drug prohibition causes much more harm than good, and so that makes it dangerous and wrong to continue down the prohibition path. The war on drugs is a failure, and to keep pushing for these laws either means that you're insane, or you want to manipulate the public or are being manipulated.

        I do think that as a side benefit of legalization we will see less violence and criminal activity by the cartels, less money to corrupt politicians, less money to buy arms, less money to pay muscle, etc. etc, but of course we won't see these benefits if we don't even try.

        • by hjf (703092)

          Opium was legal in China. How did that work?

          • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @07:31AM (#46637781)

            Opium was legal in China. How did that work?

            The same way it worked for hundreds of years in the United States before they started making things like laudanum(opium) and marijuana illegal. And these products weren't just sitting in your grandpas stash box. They were in the family medicine cabinet, and marketed as such.

            Moderation is key with anything in life, and we certainly try and make that statement with all other legal but highly addictive products like tobacco and alcohol. I don't see why legalizing other drugs would or should be treated any differently. Marijuana is already on its way to legalization, and opium is very much welcome in the United States in the form of the trillion-dollar industry that is opiate-based painkillers. They went straight past drug reform and just made it completely legal and controlled. A bottle of opium is only a government-subsidized $5 script away for most, which explains the growing problem with painkiller addiction.

            Moderation doesn't work very well for the ignorant.

            • A bottle of opium is only a government-subsidized $5 script away for most, which explains the growing problem with painkiller addiction.

              Exactly This.
              This is why the "war on drugs" exists in the first place. It's a knee jerk reaction to a justifiable fear of addiction.

              • by geekmux (1040042)

                A bottle of opium is only a government-subsidized $5 script away for most, which explains the growing problem with painkiller addiction.

                Exactly This. This is why the "war on drugs" exists in the first place. It's a knee jerk reaction to a justifiable fear of addiction.

                Uh, not quite. The war on drugs is about greed. Always has been.

                The war on drugs started with marijuana, and was about protecting profits then (the paper industry saw the growing hemp industry as a major threat), and it's still about protecting profits now (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Big Pharma would all be affected, and their lobbyists know this).

                And if there actually was a "justifiable fear of addiction", then the knee-jerk reaction by the government would NOT be to start subsidizing opiate-based painkillers

          • It was also legal in England, and most of the world at the same time. Why pick just one example?

            • by mjwx (966435)

              It was also legal in England, and most of the world at the same time. Why pick just one example?

              The thing was, the Chinese emperor at the time tried to make it illegal. The British started (and won) a few wars over the matter (which is how Hong Kong became a British protectorate).

              I cant tell you if that really helps or harms the assertion that legalising drugs is good... I guess it could be twisted into fitting either case.

              The more interesting part is the fact that opium was legal in many parts of SE Asia up until the 1960's when the US, coerced, sweet talked and cajoled many nations to shut the

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)

      Ah, yes, as soon as I saw this topic I knew someone would be along to blame it all on America.

      Can you imagine a world without America? There wouldn't be *any* problems, anywhere. Especially in Mexico, all of whose problems are entirely caused by the "gringos" (foreigners). Amazing, eh? When America blames its problems on foreigners, it's a ruse to divert attention from the real problems...but when Mexico does it it's different. Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to America.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Ah, yes, as soon as I saw this topic I knew someone would be along to blame it all on America.

        As Mexico is technically in America, if America disappeared so would Mexico (and the problems contained within).

        At that point I think Europe and the ROW would be more concerned with the giant gaping hole where two continents used to be.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You don't understand the nature of organized crime. It is not about legality or illegality of its merchandise, it is about establishing and keeping a monopoly over any highly lucrative business, using pressure by force and terror. Once you remove the nominal reason to keep them outlawed, they will own governments openly and keep upping the oppression over population. They will only grow in strength by having on their payroll not just their trusty henchmen but also their former adversaries, payed from other

      • So, they kill people, they extort, they threaten, etc.. but if drugs are legal, they'll suddenly be able to do all those things legally?

      • by Copid (137416)
        The point is to make the business less lucrative by injecting competition into the system. Start with marijuana and go from there. It looks like about half of cartel revenue is marijuana. If you crash the price of marijuana by letting US producers start to produce it, you essentially turn it into the paperclip business. Yes, the paperclip business has a lot of money sloshing around in it and big producers could make quite a lot of money, but margins are so thin that there's no incentive for criminal act
    • But, where's the money in that?

  • I feel like the place where the bullets are flying through the air, and people are dying, is the real front.......
  • by cayce (189143)

    This has been ongoing for at least a decade in Mexico. From the infamous blogdelnarco to twitter. I don't see how this is news today.

  • Didn't all this happen 5 years ago? Why bring it up now and call it "The dark side of social media"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      Didn't all this happen 5 years ago? Why bring it up now and call it "The dark side of social media"?

      It will become clear when you look at the surrounding news of NSA agreeing they spy on Americans who are "socially connected" to terrorists by a few degrees of separation.

      There has to be a good reason lying around for the public mind to latch onto in order to manufacture consent. [youtube.com] I'm going to keep posting this link until you watch it and stop asking silly questions about news.

  • Twitter as well (Score:5, Informative)

    by barlevg (2111272) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @06:21AM (#46637621)
    Just saw a talk about the Narcotweet project. [aaai.org] The interesting part about Narcotweet is that it's documenting the emergence of a new kind of "journalism:" the "tweet curator" who aggregates local social media reporting. These people are routinely followed by bigger news media (CNN en Espanol) yet maintain extremely strong ties to the people witnessing these things first-hand. The power of this entire project is that it's a way of getting information from places where the conventional news sources have decided it's too risky / too expensive to send *actual* reporters.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Make drugs legal, collect taxes and this idiotic war is over. Addicts will use drugs no matter what.

    1g of cocaine will cost 1 USD or less where it's made. Sell this shit at 10-50 USD a pop in local pharmacy and cartels will fall fast.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Go ahead and try to do that.

      They'll kill you too.

      You aren't going to ruin their perfectly massive money supply any more than some guy trying to rat them out or take them on.

      They not only kill anyone (police, military, whatever) who fucks with them, but they'll kill you for just mentioning the name of their gang on a blog. Then your mom, dad, son, daughter, wife ... all the way through your 11th cousin twice removed.

      They'll wipe out every person they can find in your blood line, and then DARE the police or

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      Typical naivete. Organized crime didn't disappear with the end of prohibition. Why the hell would it go away with the wholesale legalization of drugs? Best case is you're not arresting people for possession. But as studies on decriminalization has shown all that happens is that the money is redirected towards distribution, treatment and medical care. And Mexico will go right on fighting the cartels like nothing has changed.

      • by operagost (62405)

        Typical naivete. Organized crime didn't disappear with the end of prohibition.

        Correct. It shifted from the newly-legal industry of alcohol to the still-illegal opiates and marijuana and heavily-restricted (and illegal in most places) gambling industries.

  • Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.

    I wonder, why the cartels can't think of anything positive to say? They can, for example, emphasize the fact, that their products are primarily targeting the rich, while providing well-paying jobs for the impoverished youth, funding ample charitable donations [bbc.co.uk], and investment in local communities [wikipedia.org]...

    By poisoning the "1%" (also known as the "golden billion" [wikipedia.org]), th

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @10:05AM (#46638717) Journal
    Seriously, we need to legalize all drugs, BUT, require that NONE cross state borders. In addition, all production will obviously be limited to the state where it is consumed, and heavily regulated. Finally, we then focus on keeping the drugs our of those under age 21.

    By doing this, it remove the money from the drug lords and the gangs. Right now, there is plenty of money for them to share. BUT, if we do the above, they will kill each other, rather than innocent bystanders.
    • From a personal liberty POV, I agree. Your body, your temple, your choice. But (and there's always a but), drug addicts not only abuse themselves, but those around them. Specifically, the environment oft he children they're supposed to be caring for. We can always have CPS take the kids away, but that's a pretty fucked up situation for them to be dealing with in the first place.

      I know "for the children" is way over abused in politics, but if there was ever a reason to espouse it, it's to combat drug abuse.

      • I agree with you about the drug addicts. No doubt about it. And as you said, there is a BUT. BUT, they will do it regardless of legal or not.
        As such, we should NOT allow Ads for the stores, no using it in public (i.e. ONLY AT HOME), no driving, etc. In addition, strict laws for adults buying it from illegal source ( 5 years prison with no plea bargins ), stricter laws for selling it (10 years), and even more if it involves underage.
        The point is to stop the flow of drugs into our nation is only possible b
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I agree with you about the drug addicts. No doubt about it. And as you said, there is a BUT. BUT, they will do it regardless of legal or not.

          As such, we should NOT allow Ads for the stores, no using it in public (i.e. ONLY AT HOME), no driving, etc. In addition, strict laws for adults buying it from illegal source ( 5 years prison with no plea bargins ), stricter laws for selling it (10 years), and even more if it involves underage.

          The point is to stop the flow of drugs into our nation is only possible by legalizing it and putting up hard blocks against gangs/drug lords. Also, we need to offer a helping hand to those that want off the drugs. And it can all be funded by taxes on these.

          Why it is almost as if you have completely failed to learn a lesson here. The war on kids isn't a success either.

  • 'Down by the River' and 'Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields' by Charles Bowden are good starting books on the topic. Journalist, Bowden has illuminating things to say about the topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com] He researched this topic for years, interviewing both the DEA and cartels.

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