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Mexican Cartel Beheads Another Blogger 536

Posted by timothy
from the more-effective-than-a-slapp dept.
sanzibar writes "The Zetas killed and beheaded an Internet blogger Wednesday in Nuevo Laredo, the fourth slaying in the city involving people associated with social media sites since early September. '"This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn't report on the social networks," advised a note left before dawn with the man's body at a key intersection in the city's wealthier neighborhood. The victim, identified on social networking sites only by his nickname — Rascatripas or Belly Scratcher — reportedly helped moderate a site called En Vivo that posted news of shootouts and other activities of the Zetas, the narcotics and extortion gang that all but controls the city.'"
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Mexican Cartel Beheads Another Blogger

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  • by atari2600a (1892574) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:58PM (#38030928)
    It'll just piss off Lulzsec more, who will cease doing it for the lulz & seek revenge...
    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:06PM (#38031008) Journal

      Just out of curiosity, what would constitute this revenge?

      Certainly outing and naming/shaming gang members is a good start, but perhaps breaking into and emptying certain gang-run bank accounts would be another?

      If ever there were opportunities for spear-phishing, this is certainly one of them.

      • Just out of curiosity, what would constitute this revenge?

        I'm not so certain lulzec or any other group will seek revenge. Most people rant and threaten behind the security of anonymity, if suddenly real world consequences such as beheadings start happening as a result of these rants I think you will find most of the kids will suddenly loose interest, especially if its theirs or that of their l33t friends.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syousef (465911)

        These criminals wouldn't hesitate to hunt down every last one of them for daring so much as to troll on a web board! What makes you think they'd sit by idle while their bank accounts were emptied. They'd probably start going after not just the bloggers but their family and friends to teach others a lesson. Even cops hesitate to fuck with these guys, and they are already well known, so the idea of shaming them is incredibly stupid and unworkable. What else are these hacker groups do exactly? Release a can of

  • by Foxhoundz (2015516) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:59PM (#38030934)
    These cartels don't seem to understand the size and complexity of the internet. They're not going to get very far if they think they can silence every blogger out there.
    • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:04PM (#38030980) Homepage

      They don't need to... no need to rule the world, happy to be king in 'their' corner of it.

      • corner ? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by unity100 (970058) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:09PM (#38031030) Homepage Journal
        anon/lulzsec member in china or russia can harm them. what will mexican drug cartels do ? send a mexican to xiyghuan province, to behead the hacker ?
        • anon/lulzsec member in china or russia can harm them. what will mexican drug cartels do ? send a mexican to xiyghuan province, to behead the hacker ?

          Yeah, right. Somehow it's hard to see how these "anon/lulzsec" script kiddies are going to harm the Zetas.

        • Re:corner ? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:29PM (#38031178)

          anon/lulzsec member in china or russia can harm them. what will mexican drug cartels do ? send a mexican to xiyghuan province, to behead the hacker ?

          Not at all. They will pay the Triads or Russian Mafia to take care of the person for them. Assassinations are a source of revenue too. The better question is do the Mexican drug cartels care enough to pay the going rate?

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          Ask Parejo Gonzalez about it. He thought he was safe behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary.

          http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/18/weekinreview/the-world-ambassador-shot-by-cocaine-ring.html [nytimes.com]

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:05PM (#38030986) Journal

      I don't think they care all that much about bloggers who aren't in the local area watching them.

      OTOH, maybe a means of helping those bloggers who are left down there set up VPN tunnels and encryption, so that anonymous broadcasts of gang activities can get out to the public Internet and be broadcast anyway to all interested parties. That way the reporting is perfectly anonymous, but the targets of that reporting are not.

      • by ed1park (100777) <[ed1park] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:43PM (#38031292)

        "On another note, the intelligence company known as Stratfor mentioned that if Anonymous sticks to its promise and actually publishes the names of those involved, it will "most certainly" lead to more deaths and could leave bloggers and others open to reprisal attacks by the cartel.[54] Mike Vigil, the retired head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, mentioned that "Los Zetas should take Anonymous seriously."[55] Moreover, Stratfor mentioned that Los Zetas also has experts in computer intelligence who are believed to track down the "anti-cartel" campaigns online,[56] which has made experts understand the high rate of journalist executions.[57] In addition, they mentioned that the Mexican drug cartels generally have people monitor forums, news websites, and blogs to help them be in touch with what is being published and with what could affect their interests.[58]"

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Zetas_Cartel [wikipedia.org]

        Being a group comprised of Mexican Special Forces, politicians, judges, police, etc. with untold millions at their disposal, with no fear of leaving mass graves of hundreds of people (decapitated, tortured, etc), it seems that compromising a few ISP's or killing any outlet of information would not be difficult if they chose to focus on it. Nationally or internationally.

        Legalize drugs, and let their income of blood money vanish.

        And go watch Cocaine Cowboys 1 and 2. If we can't even keep drugs out of prisons, what the hell is the point?

        • Legalize drugs, and let their income of blood money vanish.

          If you think legalizing drugs will stop their reign of terror, you've got another thing coming. They'll just find some other extremely lucrative (and therefore most likely illegal) market to attempt to corner, and their thuggery will continue.

          • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:07AM (#38034372) Homepage Journal

            Legalize drugs, and let their income of blood money vanish.

            If you think legalizing drugs will stop their reign of terror, you've got another thing coming. They'll just find some other extremely lucrative (and therefore most likely illegal) market to attempt to corner, and their thuggery will continue.

            There is no other market of the same scale available to them. Legalizing drugs will cut off the money supply, and within a few years they'll shrink to a tiny fraction of their current size.

          • Legalize drugs, and let their income of blood money vanish.

            If you think legalizing drugs will stop their reign of terror, you've got another thing coming. They'll just find some other extremely lucrative (and therefore most likely illegal) market to attempt to corner, and their thuggery will continue.

            Such as?

            What "extremely lucrative" market is there, which Zetas can reasonably adjust itself to supply?

            Here's a hint, whatever that market is, it isn't in Mexico. Not enough per capita income. The only market that could possibly bankroll an organization like Zetas is America... and what product or service other than narcotics is there such a passionate, unmet demand for in America?

          • by CptNerd (455084)
            The next most lucrative thing is IP piracy, and they'd have to fight the whole US government then. With the new laws almost passed now, militarizing the RIAA/MPAA enforcers won't be too far away. Other than IP piracy, sex and gambling are all that are left, and they're most likely getting all they can out of that.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:09PM (#38031032) Journal

      What I don't understand is why these bloggers aren't using the tools available to them to remain anonymous.

      • by djsmiley (752149)

        Why be anon when you can be "cool" ?

        Of course its why most people do anything, money, power, revenge...

        Now, if Mr. Wikileaks guy had never let his name be known, he too may of escapped and never got in so much trouble ;)

        )Its late and i've forgot his name, but people LOVE the fame).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When the cartel controls the city, it can always control the infrastructure... how do you know these guys aren't being monitored? I'm sure the people with internet in their homes isn't so vast that they couldn't so a process of elimination and then spying on some people to get some corroboration. It's awful what they are doing and I hope some internet white knights come and kick their ass, but in reality, these guys are controlling the real world for that city .. they don't need to control the internet.

      • by BetterSense (1398915) on Friday November 11, 2011 @11:33PM (#38032354)
        I don't know either way, but it is possible that the "blogger" that was killed just some unlucky sap picked out to be an example. Bloggers giving your cartel bad publicity? Why go to the trouble of tracking an individual down when you can just kill someone and put a note on him? It's not necessary that he be the/an actual blogger; as long as people think he was killed for being one. Power perceived is power achieved.
      • Subject says it all. Even among CS grads, I'd bet that only small minority have ever heard of Tor. What's worse is that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing--I'd hate to go to Nuevo Laredo Online and spam it with links to Tor [torproject.org], only to have someone download it and get beheaded because they used it incorrectly. So, there needs to be a push to educate the bloggers about the basics, benefits, and pitfalls of anonymizing tools. This means that we nerds actually have the power to help Mexicans defeat t

    • by Kyusaku Natsume (1098) on Friday November 11, 2011 @09:25PM (#38031580)

      They don't need to, what they want is to keep control of the street, something that they manage to do by terror. They don't want to have secure communications, they want to leave people isolated. For example they cut the fibers of the phone exchange in the small town of my wife's grandparents. People was without phone service for 3 weeks, the phone company crew was unable to restore service until a Army's detachment went to the town and guarded them.

    • by Shoten (260439) on Friday November 11, 2011 @10:01PM (#38031834)

      I think you're missing the real point. These aren't random bloggers on the Internet, the sort that would say "oh wow, those Mexican criminals are bad," these are people who are local to the region, commenting on facts...in effect, acting as journalists. Reporters have already been murdered and threatened; it just follows that bloggers would get the same treatment.

      And if you think that "the complexity of the Internet" is much help, let me break down this situation to you:

      Bloggers: "Dear Mexican crime syndicates: we will tell other people what you are doing, that you are killing, kidnapping, extorting and selling drugs."

      Mexican crime syndicates: "Dear bloggers: we will torture you to death, and then dump your body in a public place as a message."

      That doesn't seem like a very symmetric exchange to me.

  • Legalize Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:01PM (#38030950)

    Legalize and regulate drugs. Put the cartels out of business.

    • Re:Legalize Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tool462 (677306) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:11PM (#38031062)

      It would reduce a major form of funding, but there will still be a market in human trafficking and other activities. It will help, but it won't put them out of business.

      • Re:Legalize Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tmosley (996283) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:36PM (#38031234)
        They get the vast majority of their money from drugs, and use the smuggling networks they build for the one to move the other. The whole thing would collapse in a big hurry, and it would certainly get a LOT less violent.
        • by timothyf (615594)

          I get the feeling that corrupt organizations (and, lets face it, if your organization requires the death of a blogger for reporting on your activities, it is corrupt) won't be particularly eager to legitimize themselves. There's more to organized crime than drugs, and I think they're likely resourceful enough to move onto the next lucrative illegal activity in the absence of an illicit drug trade.

          • Re:Legalize Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

            by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday November 11, 2011 @10:37PM (#38032050) Homepage

            If you eliminate 80% of their funding, they can only be 20% bad -- not enough revenue for as many machine guns, not revenue for as many grenades, not enough revenue to pay off all the cops, not enough revenue to pay all the "troops". This last one could be especially juicy because they'd have a little internal power struggle to keep what is left and hopefully would go nuts offing each other.

            Cut out most of the money, and they'll shrink drastically. Once they get down to a certain size, they'll be easier to deal with. Suggesting that cutting off their funds would have no effect though, is nuts.

    • Re:Legalize Drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:11PM (#38031068) Journal

      It's too late, the cartels are already exploring other business ventures, such as collecting a 50% "income tax" [neglectedwar.com]. Legalizing drugs will not help deal with them at that point, they need to actually be physically exterminated.

      • Reducing their income means that they have less money.

        And money is the reason that they're taking money from the people in the areas they control.

        The problem is that bullets are cheap. It's going to be a long, bloody war no matter what happens. But reducing their income means that it will be shorter and less bloody.

        Mexico is falling into warlordism.
        The central government is ineffective / complicit.
        Legalizing drugs would move the money FROM the cartels TO the legal growers AND the government (taxes).

        There's

    • it would be worse than ever. they would be finding 'scientific research' that proved cocaine was good for you, and then make money investing in for-profit addiction treatment clinics, selling 'addiction recovery bonds' to investors, etc etc etc.

      thats basically what they have done with fat and sugar... make delivery as efficient as possible and profit from the problems it causes (obesity etc).

      not that im all against it. but it should heavily regulated.

  • Possibly not (Score:5, Informative)

    by cappp (1822388) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:02PM (#38030954)
    Wired updated their story [wired.com] with an important caveat

    Our original report named “Rascatripas” as a forum moderator for Nuevo Laredo in Vivo. That’s now appears to be off-base. At least one local reporter says there’s “no proof” yet that the decapitated man found Wednesday was actually murdered for his online activity. And administrators for Nuevo Laredo en Vivo now say that “Rascatripas” wasn’t one of theirs. “Negative,” they tweet (thanks to Xeni Jardin for the translation, and for the tip). “He was not our partner, he is confirmed to have been a scapegoat to scare others. The person executed is not a collaborator with our site, but this was without doubt an attempt to silence the voices of Nuevo Laredo.”

    • by esocid (946821)
      The person murdered was not a moderator for (or affiliated with) the site, as many seem to report. Neuveo tweeted [twitter.com] "Negative, is not our partner the person executed, but no doubt this attempt to silence the voices of Nuevo Laredo." At least that's what google translate says. An employee of the site was killed in September, but this appears to not be affiliated, and only some sort of scapegoat to disseminate the message to others who inform on Zetas.
    • Re:Possibly not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by n5vb (587569) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:38PM (#38031248)

      Wired updated their story [wired.com] with an important caveat

      Our original report named “Rascatripas” as a forum moderator for Nuevo Laredo in Vivo. That’s now appears to be off-base. At least one local reporter says there’s “no proof” yet that the decapitated man found Wednesday was actually murdered for his online activity. And administrators for Nuevo Laredo en Vivo now say that “Rascatripas” wasn’t one of theirs. “Negative,” they tweet (thanks to Xeni Jardin for the translation, and for the tip). “He was not our partner, he is confirmed to have been a scapegoat to scare others. The person executed is not a collaborator with our site, but this was without doubt an attempt to silence the voices of Nuevo Laredo.”

      Which raises a very important and much lower-tech question: why would cartels be deterred by technical obstacles keeping them from identifying the real bloggers? Grab some random techy-looking guy off the street and kill him, and pin a note to him claiming he's a blogger with a warning to others not to report on cartel activities, and who'll know the difference locally? (And even if the actual bloggers are so thoroughly anonymized as to be undetectable .. that's got to make anyone on the street nervous about whether or not they're really anonymous..)

      Because there's more to real life than tech [xkcd.com] ..

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:03PM (#38030958) Homepage

    How else could they track them if their ISP wasn't cooperating?

    • by zlel (736107)
      "coorperating"? you mean like when RIAA tried to persuade the court to give an order to release names of people with certain traffic patterns?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      fellow employee, landlord, etc.
  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:03PM (#38030962) Journal

    Now I'm not saying that anonymous internet nerds are going to be a threat to these guys. But, the more news reporting there is of how completely evil they are, the more outraged people get at their behavior, the more likely it becomes that either the Mexican or American authorities take them more seriously and launch an all-out war against them. If/When that happens, they'll wish they had learned the lessons of the Mafia: stay hidden, stay quiet, and don't call any attention to yourself.

    • Maybe you haven't been paying attention, but it's already a war. In the few years of Calderon's term, enough Mexican population has been wiped out over the drug war that if you were to extrapolate the rate of murders to the American population, there'd be 400,000 dead americans. There's daily military activity -- hell, they just had to force mexican military past our border back into mexico last week. Check out the Mexican Drug War update on DRCNet.org.
    • by decora (1710862) on Friday November 11, 2011 @08:17PM (#38031102) Journal

      the drug cartels have infiltrated the local police, the federal police, the media, and the politicians. the mexican authorities arent going to 'launch war' against their own agents.

      as for the US authorities... i just... they are utterly incompetent. you have to realize the guys we are supporting in afghanistan "against the taliban" are drug lords (the taliban are also drug lords).

      we are basically propping up the same guys we want to kill in mexico, its called 'realpolitik'. in other words, nobody cares if a bunch of bloggers get beheaded as long as the 'larger US strategic interests' are protected.

      for Mexico, that means cheap labor in mequilladoras (for products we can ship) and cheap immigrant labor (for labor that has to be done on site).

    • But, the more news reporting there is of how completely evil they are, the more outraged people get at their behavior, the more likely it becomes that either the Mexican or American authorities take them more seriously and launch an all-out war against them.

      They have had an all-out war for three years now [wikipedia.org] - and by "war" I don't mean the kind of war that's "war on drugs" in U.S., I mean actual war with military personnel, fully equipped, directly involved in operations - and cartels using IEDs, machine guns, grenade launchers, mortars, and improvised but still impressive armored vehicles [washingtonpost.com].

      So far it doesn't seem to be working all that well, because, in those southern states, cartels are often more powerful than the government, and their manpower is, to a large ex

      • by tsotha (720379)

        But that hardware isn't to fight the government. Like any good criminal organization they're not interested in fighting battles against an army. When the army shows up they hide their guns and act like normal people.

        The hardware is for the other gangs.

  • Maybe it's obvious, but I'm clueless. Why did they not want him to report on "shootouts and other activities"? I would have guessed they rather wanted their brutal behaviour to be known. What activities was it they did not want reported on?

  • by Alyssey (994477) on Friday November 11, 2011 @09:26PM (#38031592)
    Mexican here... My brother was "taken" (they burst into his house, got him, his girlfriend and his roomie into the the trunk of a car) and we have not hear any news about him (or the others) in more than two years. I have heard grenades and shots outside my and my boyfriend's homes. Four days ago, my friend's neighbor was shot in the head because she was in the way between a cartel and something while leaving her kids at school. The secretary of defense, Domene, says it was a BIG coincidence this was just outside an ex-secretary's home. Law enforcement decided that they would not let this stuff be publicized, not in TV, not in Radio, not in Newspapers as to not scare the people... we get our information from Twitter, mostly... there's a small bunch of people that help with that. Felipe Calderon has made an even greater mess of this. And he thinks he's doing an awesome job. And I'm not even in Nuevo Laredo.
  • Dramatic Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Friday November 11, 2011 @10:10PM (#38031902)
    This is one from the Osama bin Laden book of terrorism -- make every kill a spectacle. They probably know that people will find anonymous ways to replace Rascatripas. You can kill a person, but not an alias. In the mean time, they will try to scare everyone, a tactic of desperation.
  • by iONiUM (530420) on Friday November 11, 2011 @11:11PM (#38032242) Homepage Journal

    Mexico is basically in a state of quiet civil war at this point: the government vs. the gangs. I read somewhere that the US is moving more men to the southern border, and expects a collapse of the Mexican government in 5 years time (unfortunately, I can't find the article again, so maybe it was incorrect).

    In any case, while I completely agree that legalization of drugs in both the US and Mexico would solve this (in the short term; who knows what the gangs would move on to), the real answer is for Mexico to just hurry up and collapse into total civil war. That way the whole world can acknowledge the crises, and help re-build the country from the slum that it currently is.

    As for me, I refuse to travel there, and I tell everyone I can to do the same. I realize lack of tourism dollars may hurt non-gang industries, but quite frankly I don't care. I know that if I go there, at least some portion, if not a large portion. of any money I spend will end up in the gangs hands, and I'm not willing to give them anymore than they have already. I suggest everyone does the same, and let the country collapse.

    • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:03AM (#38032480) Homepage Journal

      This is an utter lie.

      The real economy in Mexico keeps moving and the immense majority of the population does not experience any violence at all, politics proceeds as usual, and even today's tragedy of losing the Government Minister to an accident (and the Education Minister having been diagnosed with cancer) won't bring things to a standstill, other people people will be named, and the business of government will continue as usual.

      Of course the environment is tense and the situation is unacceptable and horrific, but Mexico is a big country and most of it leads a normal life.

      I am not trying to minimize the situation: it is pretty bad, but it is a bad situation happening in a civilized country which is fighting back (scores of policemen are being fired if corruption is found, the army is on the streets since its command structures and loyalty are more reliable than the police's).

      It is also noticeable that foreign governments, international organizations (G20 for example) and sports bodies (FIFA for example) see Mexico as a safe enough place to make business with.

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Friday November 11, 2011 @11:35PM (#38032360) Homepage

    Many of the people reading and commenting here are Americans, so you might be missing something rather important.

    These bloggers were careful. They probably used every type of encryption, all kinds of VPNs, proxies and tons of security software. But the one thing you cannot avoid in almost every nation other than the US and most of Europe, is the non-virtual social network, where everyone knows everyone else.

    Here in America and most of Europe, humans can communicate without ever seeing each other. We build so-called "social networks", but in reality we've never met nearly 50% of the people we associate with online. In places like South America, where the Internet is not quite as prevalent, people still talk to each other. Families still sit down to dinner, share meals with neighbors, chat over the fence, gossip here and there, all face to face.

    So when you talk to someone about a gang member, they remember you. Perhaps they mention it to a friend, and a neighbor overhears. However it happens, if more than one person knows that someone talked about something, it *will* get to the other interested party eventually. And if that other interested party is extremely powerful, with a reputation for slaughtering anyone who hides info, and richly rewarding those who supply it?

    You can't even hide in your parent's basement, because all the neighbors will know you're down there, and will gossip about how you never come out except to ask strange questions.

    Here in the US, in our connected-yet-disconnected society, anonymity comes from a mixture of software and our physical isolation. In places like Mexico, where physical isolation is akin to Excommunication, anonymity in such a profession is all but impossible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:25AM (#38032818)

    rasca = to scratch tripas = guts. rascatripas = gutscratcher. which is Mexican slang for guitar player.

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