VERACRUZ, Mexico — An Internet video threatens Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel with exposure of its allies in the local police and news media this week unless the gang frees a kidnapped member of the international hacker movement known as “Anonymous.”
The message, posted in English and Spanish versions, says Anonymous knows of police officers, journalists, taxi drivers and others working with the Zetas. It says Anonymous is “tired of the criminal group the Zetas, which is dedicated to kidnapping, stealing and extortion.”
Referring to an unidentified person kidnapped in the coastal city of Veracruz, the video warns: “You have made a great mistake by taking one of us. Free him.”
“We cannot defend ourselves with weapons, but we can with their cars, houses, bars,” the message adds, apparently alluding to properties owned by cartel supporters. “It’s not difficult. We know who they are and where they are found.”
It says the hackers group will act on Friday if the kidnapped activist is not freed or is harmed.
Three people have been killed recently in the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas by suspected Zetas who apparently believed the victims used the Internet to spread information about the gang.
The new message is presented by someone wearing a mask and speaking for Anonymous in “Veracruz, Mexico, and the world.” It was apparently uploaded to websites early this month, but there is no way to authenticate its origin. It was first reported Friday on the website of the global intelligence think tank Stratfor.
An official with the Veracruz state attorney general’s office, who would not allow his name to be used, said the office had not confirmed the video’s authenticity.
Stratfor, in its analysis of the video, said anyone exposed by Anonymous as a Zetas collaborator — accurately or not — would surely be targeted by rival gangs and the Zetas could respond by attacking Internet activists even if they are not affiliated with Anonymous.
This is at least the second example of high-profile online resistance to the Zetas, who have been blamed for a dramatic upsurge in violence along Mexico’s Gulf coast.
In July, a group of men dressed in paramilitary gear and heavily armed posted a video calling themselves the “Zeta Killers.” They later claimed responsibility for the murder of Zetas members, but authorities have insisted the group is simply a rival cartel.