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Anonymous backs off in clash with Mexican drug cartel

'Kidnap victim released' claim backpedalling hacktivists

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On-again-off-again plans by the Anonymous collective to publish details of the infamous Zetas drug cartel and their associates were finally cancelled over the weekend, following the supposed release of a kidnapped member of the hacktivist collective.

A statement from Anonymous Iberoamerica states that the still unnamed member of the collective was freed, adding that "although bruised, we can say he is safe and well". Los Zetas are as well-known for kidnap and murder as they are for drug running in their native Mexico. They kidnap victims for money and those they can't turn a swift profit on are usually killed.

The idea that the narcotraficantes may have responded to the threat of being outed by Anonymous by releasing a kidnap victim strains credulity to breaking point. The lack of details on when the supposed kidnap victim might have been taken makes the whole story even less plausible. The kidnapping supposedly happened during a leafleting campaign in the Mexican state of Veracruz but, as The Guardian reports, the last such protest occurred months ago and there's no evidence of any police reports of an abduction.

Anonymous Iberoamerica claims that it has permanently dropped plans to expose names of associates of the Zetas drug cartel (#OpCartel) after threats that the drug lords would kill 10 people for every member of the cartel named. Los Zetas has already claimed responsibility for the murder of three bloggers from the northern Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo in two separate incidents in September. One of the victims, Marisol Macias Castaneda, 39 – known online as “The Laredo Girl” and “Nena de Laredo” - was beheaded for posting about the Zetas on a local online discussion forum.

Mexican members of Anonymous told local media that they had decided to cancel #OpCartel, following a debate 10 days ago over fears that the operation could place innocent people at risk from reprisal attacks. However prominent members of the collective outside Mexico, including AnonymouSabu, said the operation would go ahead anyway. Anonymous Iberoamerica has acted as an outlet for information about #OpCartel but it is unclear who runs its operations. ®

Bootnote

The story has a curious footnote. Anonymous Iberoamerica posted an update on Sunday claiming that a suspected undercover agent of CISEN (the intelligence agency of the government of Mexico) entered its chat rooms in an attempt to provoke an administrator into reversing the decision to discontinue #OpCartel.

"This little incident that could have gone unnoticed in other circumstances but confirms what we already suspected: the Mexican government is behind infiltrating #OpCartel for purposes unknown (possibly to neutralise Anonymous' war against criminal groups," it said, adding extracts of the chat log to support its claim.

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