Online hackers threaten to expose cartel’s secrets
An international group of online hackers is warning a Mexican drug cartel to release one of its members, kidnapped from a street protest, or it will publish the identities and addresses of the syndicate’s associates, from corrupt police to taxi drivers, as well as reveal the syndicates’ businesses.
The vow is a bizarre cyber twist to Mexico’s ongoing drug war, as a group that has no guns is squaring off against the Zetas, a cartel blamed for thousands of deaths as well as introducing beheadings and other frightening brutality.
“You made a huge mistake by taking one of us. Release him,” says a masked man in a video posted online on behalf of the group, Anonymous.
“We cannot defend ourselves with a weapon … but we can do this with their cars, homes, bars, brothels and everything else in their possession,” says the man, who is wearing a suit and tie.
“It won’t be difficult; we all know who they are and where they are located,” says the man, who underlines the group’s international ties by speaking Spanish with the accent of a Spaniard while using Mexican slang.
He also implies that the group will expose mainstream journalists who are somehow in cahoots with the Zetas by writing negative articles about the military, the country’s biggest fist in the drug war.
“We demand his release,” says the Anonymous spokesman, who is wearing a mask like the one worn by the shadowy revolutionary character in the movie V for Vendetta, which came out in 2006. “If anything happens to him, you sons of (expletive) will always remember this upcoming November 5.”
The person reportedly kidnapped is not named, and the video does not share information about the kidnapping other than that it occurred in the Mexican state of Veracruz during a street protest.
Anonymous draws its roots from an online forum dedicated to bringing sensitive government documents and other material to light.
If Anonymous can make good on its threats to publish names, it will “most certainly” lead to more deaths and could leave bloggers and others open to reprisal attacks by the cartel, contends Stratfor, an Austin-based global intelligence company.
“In this viral world on the Internet, it shows how much damage could be done with just one statement on the Web,” said Fred Burton of Stratfor, which published a report Friday that probes the implications of the cartel drawing the activists’ ire.
Mike Vigil, the retired head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the Zetas must take Anonymous seriously.
“It is a gutsy move,” Vigil said. “By publishing the names, they identify them to rivals, and trust me, they will go after them.”