16 November 2011

Drug gangs continue hunt for anonymous netizens with barbaric beheading

An armed group fired assault weapons through the windows of El Siglo de Torreón and set vehicles on fire in front of the building
An armed group fired assault weapons through the windows of El Siglo de Torreón and set vehicles on fire in front of the building
El Siglo de Torreón
The decapitated body of someone first believed to be the moderator of an online forum that reported on the activities of the Zetas drug gang was found in Nuevo Laredo province on 9 November, report the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The killing of the fourth pseudonym-using netizen in recent months shows just how merciless and relentless drug trafficking gangs are in seeking out citizens who are peacefully resisting gang violence by gathering and sharing information online, the IFEX members explain.

According to a report published on a local news site, the victim was a moderator for website "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" who went by the name "Rascatripas," WiPC, RSF and CPJ say. According to news articles, a banner on his body read, "This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn't report things on social networks."

However, a tweet sent later by the account of "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo" said the individual was not affiliated with the website but was scapegoated in an attempt to scare others, CPJ reports.

In September, two teenagers were assassinated and hung from a bridge for their connections to social media websites that denounced the drug gangs and news editor María Elizabeth Macías was beheaded for reporting under an alias on "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo."

Despite the barbaric attacks, RSF reports that the activist group Anonymous, along with several other online news and social media sites, continue to fight back. In early November, the group threatened to reveal the names of all people linked to the Zetas cartel but backed down when the Zetas released a kidnapped Anonymous activist.

Two separate newspaper offices were also attacked in November, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), ARTICLE 19 and CPJ report. On 15 November, unidentified assailants fired assault weapons through the windows of "El Siglo de Torreón" and set vehicles on fire in front of the building. On 6 November, gunmen vandalised equipment and set fire to the office of "El Buen Tono." No one was injured in the attacks and the motives are unclear, CPJ says.

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