Here is an excerpt from Dudley Althaus' article in The Houston Chronicle:
"Placards left with the tortured bodies of two people hanging from a Nuevo Laredo overpass warn that the same fate awaits social media devotees who keep information flowing by text, Twitter, blogs and other means as gangsters muzzle the news media in much of Mexico. 'This is going to happen to all the internet busybodies,' said one of the notes signed with a Z, presumably for the Zetas gang that controls Nuevo Laredo. 'Listen up, I'm on to you'... The messages found in Nuevo Laredo on Tuesday, with the bodies of a man and a woman in their 20s, directly threatened two popular blogs that specialize in reporting gang-related violence." Link to Full Article
Here is an excerpt from Rafael Romo's article, "Drug violence victims go unidentified in Mexico," on CNN.com:
"More than 48 hours after two mangled bodies appeared hanging by ropes from a pedestrian bridge in a Mexican border city, authorities had yet to identify the victims... The woman was hogtied and disemboweled. Attackers left her topless, dangling by her feet and hands from a bridge in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. A bloodied man next to her was hanging by his hands, his right shoulder severed so deeply the bone was visible.Posters found with the bodies contained messages mentioning two blogs and threatening users of social media, demanding they stop reporting drug-related crimes in the city, located across the border from Laredo, Texas. Mexico's notoriously ruthless drug gangs regularly hang victims from bridges and highway overpasses. And bloggers who specialize in sharing news about trafficking have been threatened in the past. But this could be the first time users of such social networks have been targeted... CNN tried unsuccessfully to get information about the grisly slayings at the local, state, and federal level. Officials were either unavailable or unwilling to release any information about the killings. Local media reported that the male victim was 25 years old and the female 28, without citing any sources." Link to Full Article
Analysis: This latest incident has caused a global uproar, with even huge European news outlets like BBC wanting to find out more about the murdered social media users in Nuevo Laredo. The thing is, how do we really know who these people were, or what they did?
Essentially, every media outlet is basing their story on the content of the messages posted with the bodies - presumably from Los Zetas, by their signature "Z." That means that Los Zetas - the bloodthirsty criminals and killers that they are - are being taken at their word, that these two people posted in some social media outlet some sort of detailed information about TCO activity in the area. The problem is, the authorities aren't talking - probably because they don't know anything, and/or are afraid to ask any questions.
So the media and Twitter are going nuts, telling the world that freedom of the press and freedom of speech (which were already being severely hampered in Mexico by the narcos) are taking the biggest historical hit because of this incident, and no one really even knows what happened. Who were these two victims? What social media outlet (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, a blog...) did they use? What did they say, and about which TCO did they say it? Did they even do what Los Zetas say they did? Did they post anonymously somewhere, or were they foolish enough to identify themselves somehow? And if they were indeed anonymous social media users, how did Los Zetas identify them?
There are two things that could have happened here. If what Los Zetas say happened is true, then this is one of the bigger salvos the TCO has launched against "civilians." But perhaps even that needs to be caveated. Were the victims members of a rival TCO and posting information that would hurt Zetas operations? Or were they innocents, warning others to get away from a potentially violent area due to Zetas activity?
The other scenario is that these two victims are rivals, fall guys, or random people Los Zetas killed and wanted to use to make threats and spread fear. Obviously, this incident has had that effect and more. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter who these people were (regarding TCO affiliation) or what they did or didn't do. Los Zetas are being taken at their word, and everyone is assuming the two victims did what Los Zetas are accusing them of. As a result, many social media users in Mexico are freaking out, and lots of people who provide useful information about drug war activity have probably just been silenced.
This is another one of those terrorist tactics Los Zetas have chosen to engage in. It doesn't matter whether or not you carry out what you threaten to do; the threat is often enough to persuade enough people to modify their behavior to suit your needs. Also, there's the well-worn adage that perception is reality. Whether or not these victims did what Los Zetas say they did, people are believing the message Los Zetas are putting out there. It's a perfect example of a successful psychological operation, and we'll have to chalk one up in the L column for the Mexican authorities - and a good number of media outlets.