September 20, 2021

Mexican Drug Wars Spread to the Internet

Mexican drug warWith the ferocious drug trafficking war impacting their lives, large numbers of Mexicans check social networking web sites every morning to find out if they will come across any problems on the way to school or work.

While ordinary citizens log in to advise others where a body has been discovered in their local area or whether they should be expecting disruptions from drug cartels or the military, the drug traffickers also also use internet tools to affect public opinion through warnings and threats.

The distribution of critical information prior to the daily commute using social networks like Twitter and Facebook is particularly valuable in the northern area of the country near the U.S. border, an area that has become a bloody battlefield during Mexico’s drug war.

Over 28,000 people have been murdered in cartel-related violence in Mexico in the last four years after Mexican President Felipe Calderon unveiled a government crackdown, making citizens  desperate for methods to stay away from the bloodshed.

Recently, northern areas of Mexico have been overwhelmed by yet another round of violence with 47 murders attributed to drug cartels from the border region and a string of grenade assaults  that injured a dozen people around the border city of Monterrey.

At least ten reporters have been murdered by drug cartels this year. With journalists now targeted by the gangs, news organizations have, at times, self-censored their news stories in order to keep their workers safe, making online news even more essential.

“People on the streets in town have heard gunfire… has anyone else?” wrote a user of an information site in Guadalajara that popped up to serve the city in an attempt by residents to distribute news of  turmoil in the streets.

Some local authorities official networking sites, including Twitter page and Facebook accounts, have also been created by local authorities.

Leonardo Hernandez, a university researcher who is working on a paper about online terrorism, said that sometimes more can be learned about a crime online than in other media nowadays.

“It happens sometimes that the first news about something breaks on the social network sites,”  said Leonardo Hernandez, a university researcher, commenting on the case of a former  candidate for president, kidnapped last June and whose status remains a mystery.

The kidnappers posted the abducted man’s photos online, using Twitter.

“We learned more about it on the social networks than we did in the media,” Hernandez said.

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