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The Mexican branch of Anonymous have threatened to expose members of Los Zetas unless the drug cartel releases a kidnapped member of the hacking collective.

In an ultimatum posted on YouTube, Anonymous threatens to publish data on cartel members and affiliates in Veracruz unless an unnamed male victim is freed by 5 November. The kidnapping happened during a street protest in the Mexican state of Veracruz, according to the video. The hackers threaten to expose journalists, taxi drivers and corrupt cops that have collaborated with the cartel.

The Zetas are one of the most notorious of several rival gangs of drug traffickers that have plagued Mexico over recent years. Over recent months, turf wars and escalating attacks have increased the death toll.

The Monterrey casino attack in August, which claimed the lives of 53 people, and the the 2011 Tamaulipas massacre, involving the mass murder of an estimated 190 plus abducted bus passengers back in April, were both blamed on the Zetas. Some Zetas members are former Mexican Special Forces soldiers, the US Department of Homeland Security warns. A woman from Nuevo Laredo, Marisol Macias Castaneda, 39, was beheaded for posting about the Zetas on a local online discussion forum last month just days after two bloggers were found hanging from a bridge in the same northern Mexican border city.

If Anonymous follows through on its threat to expose details of the Zeta's operations, it will almost certainly result in further bloodshed. Analysts warned the Houston Chronicle that outing cartel members would leave bloggers and others more vulnerable to reprisal attacks by the cartel. ®

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