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Mexican drug runners torture and decapitate blogger

El Mod of social network ritually murdered

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The moderator of a Mexican social network has been tortured and ritually murdered by local drug lords in the latest cartel-related killing in the country.

The victim, identified in an accompanying message as "El Rascatripas" (The Fiddler/Scratcher) was tortured and decapitated before his body was dumped in the early hours of Wednesday morning beside a statue of Christopher Columbus near the Texas border and outside the town of Nuevo Laredo. A blanket placed near the body featured a chilling message, scrawled in ink: "Hi I’m ‘Rascatripas’ and this happened to me because I didn’t understand I shouldn’t post things on social networks."

Local reports suggest the man was a moderator on the social network Nuevo Laredo en Vivo. His death brings the death toll of bloggers and social media activists in the town – all apparent victims of the ultra-ruthless Zetas cartel – to four over the last two months. A man and a woman, who was disembowelled beforehand, were found strung from an overpass in the town in mid-September. Less than two weeks later, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo moderator Marisol Macias Castaneda, also known as The Laredo Girl, was decapitated and dumped – like the latest victim – by the Christopher Columbus statue. More details, including a grisly picture of the crime scene, can be found in local media reports here and here.

A bloody turf war between the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and their former enforcers, Los Zetas, is at its bloodiest in the states of eastern Tamaulipas, around the northern city of Monterrey and in Tamaulipas (the location of Nuevo Laredo). Some estimates suggest that as many as 40,000 Mexicans had lost their lives as a result of the escalating Mexican drug wars, which have included a terrorist-style attack on a Monterrey casino in August that claimed the lives of 53 people. The April 2011 Tamaulipas massacre, involving the execution of an estimated 190-plus abducted bus passengers, and the Monterrey casino attack had both been blamed on the Zetas.

Wired reports that locals are using social media tools to carry real-time reporting of firefights between drug runners and local police and cartel checkpoints on the region's dangerous roads as well as criticism of local drug lords. Drug cartels, in particular the Zetas, take a ruthless line on those reporting their activities online, treating them as snitches and murdering them as a grisly warning to others.

Recent plans by a faction of Anonymous to release details of associates of Los Zetas were abandoned last weekend amid confusion over whether the alleged kidnapping of a member of the activists collective, the incident that provoked OpCartel, had ever actually taken place. ®

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