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Cybersecurity

Mexico's Drug War Takes to the Blogosphere

With the press cowed by gang reprisals, posts and tweets fill an information void

Anonymous, a global group of hacker-activists, has had a remarkable string of successes lately, from helping Occupy Wall Street to taking out government websites of repressive regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. But when the group this month launched a plan called OpCartel, threatening to release stolen data exposing 100 collaborators of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most savage drug cartels, the U.S. security firm Stratfor, among others, warned the hackers they were out of their depth. In September, the Zetas showed their displeasure with a blogger who contributed to an anti-cartel website by dumping her decapitated body near a monument in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. The victim’s detached head was wearing a pair of headphones, and a computer keyboard lay next to her torso.

Releasing information on Zeta collaborators, hacked from police data banks, would likely put the suspects on a “kill list” of rival cartels, security experts warned. Anonymous’s usually boisterous followers were divided on the wisdom of the confrontation, which was announced as a response to the alleged kidnapping of an Anonymous member in the Mexican state of Veracruz sometime before Oct. 6. “Won’t be tweeting on #OpCartel going forward,” messaged a member going by the name AnonyNewsNet. “Excuse me, while I go chainsmoke and/or feel like a coward.”