THIS PAGE Serafín Zambada has regularly posted evidence of murders committed by men linked to his father’s cartel. Vice reported one photo from Serafín’s Facebook page showed a man whose mid-section was sliced open – just punishment for being a ‘rat’, he wrote.
While the cartels might be seemingly happy to use social media for their own purposes, they have reacted violently when opponents have used these channels to criticise them. In 2011, police in Nuevo Laredo found a woman’s decapitated corpse with a sign saying she had been murdered as a reprisal for posting on a social media site, reported The Guardian. The note was signed with the Zeta cartel’s ‘Z’ trademark.
Citizen reporter Dr Maria del Rosario Fuentes used an anonymous Twitter account to post information about cartel action in her hometown near the Rio Grande. On 15 October 2014, the 36-yearold was kidnapped by armed men and a warning was tweeted to her followers: ‘Close your account. Don’t risk your families as I have. I ask for forgiveness.’ It was followed by two images: in the the camera. In the second she is on the ground, with a bullet in her head.
‘Cyberspace and social media offer cartels a free “soapbox” that can’t be controlled in the same way as traditional media like print and TV,’ Antoine says. ‘When increasing connectivity in places like Mexico is paired with high rates of violence and crime, cartel presence online is no surprise. What’s more, lack of effective law and order can lead cartel members to feel invincible online.’
Independent journalists are not the only ones to attract the cartels’ ire. After El Chapo was recaptured in January, current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto was quick to claim the victory, taking to Twitter to announce it was ‘mission accomplished’. El Chapo’s son Iván replied directly with a series of clear warnings: ‘You don’t know what you’ve done or the mess you’ve gotten yourself into,’ said one. ‘Just as we put you in the presidency, we can just as easily take you out,’ read another. Younger son Alfredo tweeted the government, warning they would ‘know of the Guzmáns very soon’.
The Mexican Drug War shows little sign of waning. Yet as authorities struggle to contain the violence that continues to ravage their country, the cartels’ newfound online savvy means authorities
Images posted on the Instagram accounts of Claudia Ochoa Félix and brothers Iván and Alfredo Guzmán show the wealthy and dangerous lifestyles into which they were born