Mexico: moderator of online discussion forum about narcos reported as tortured, decapitated by narcos (UPDATED)

UPDATE: One media outlet in Mexico reports that there is no proof that the man killed in Nuevo Laredo on Wednesday was a social media user. Police say they are still investigating. Unlike in previous cases involving administrators/contributors to the online message board in question, the newspaper affiliated with that forum has not come forward to confirm the identity of the dead.

UPDATE 2: Nuevo Laredo Live reports that the man killed is "not one of our collaborators," but "a scapegoat" whose murder serves to send a message of fear.

The moderator of an online discussion forum about local cartel-related crime is reported to have been killed in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Near the corpse, a "narco manta," or sign taking responsibility for the murder, was found and points to the ultraviolent cartel known as the Zetas.

Wired News reports that the victim was a 35-year-old man who went by the nickname “Rascatripas” or “Scraper” (literally, “Fiddler”) on the web-based chat network Nuevo Laredo en Vivo where he served as a community moderator. The body was handcuffed, with signs of torture, and was decapitated and was placed next to a monument for Christopher Columbus about a mile south of the Texas border. That same site has previously been used as a dumping ground for victims of this form of crime.

The discussion board in question is the same one at the center of the near-identical murder of two other Nuevo Laredo residents two months ago. They were outed as active participants in the site's crime-tip forum, and they were gruesomely murdered as "snitches." Their bodies were dumped in the same location, with a sign indicating that their killing should serve as a warning for others who share information about cartel activities on the internet.

Snip from

Below the man’s body was a partially obscured and blood-stained blanket. Written on the blanket in black ink: “Hi I’m ‘Rascatripas’ and this happened to me because I didn’t understand I shouldn’t post things on social networks.”

The discovery of the body Wednesday morning brings the total number of bloggers and social media networkers apparently killed in the past three months by organized crime in Mexico — and in the border city of Nuevo Laredo — to four.

One important caveat: some who cover this news beat point out that there are insufficient confirmed details to report the identity of the victim as fact just yet. Neither the police, the family of the deceased, nor the operators of the web forum have validated early online reports. It is possible that the victim's actual identity is not what the sign next to the body states. It is possible that the killing was staged by the Zetas or some other individual or entity for any number of purposes.

Given the nature of cartel-related crime in the region, those facts may take time to confirm. But the message delivered seems clear.

More at Wired.

(via Cyrus Farivar)

Related reports in Spanish: Univision, Milenio, Proceso, and Hoy Laredo (WARNING, GRAPHIC PHOTO).

Related reports in English: Houston Chronicle, AFP.



  1. This is a truly terrible tragedy, of course. However it is also a reminder that the bad guys sometimes are smart too, that they can figure things out, and that what you start online might follow you into real life.

  2. If only drugs were decriminalized at the least, and some (like pot) completely legalized.  Then, those with addictions could get help without the stigma of being a criminal, and those cartels would no longer be “needed” as much.  If only.  But it’ll never happen.

    The War on Drugs is probably the biggest reason why the cartels have so much power in Mexico.

    1. This is not true. California, Mexico’s largest drug market in the US, effectively decriminalized pot last year,  and pot has been legal for medical use for many years, and since then, the violence has gotten even worse. And even if we somehow waved a magic wand and decriminalized pot across the US, the drug gangs would just turn to other illicit products. And even if we somehow decriminalized *all* drugs, the gangs would  just increase their other revenue streams from kidnapping for ransom, prostitution, etc. etc. THERE IS NO SIMPLE SOLUTION TO THIS.

      1. This is not true. California, Mexico’s largest drug market in the US, effectively decriminalized pot last year,  and pot has been legal for medical use for many years, and since then, the violence has gotten even worse.

        Do you have any evidence that decriminalized marijuana caused violent crime to worsen in CA?

        I just hit my bong and found all this info while stoned out of my mind:

        As far as violence in Mexico goes, it’s not going to go down whatsoever by decriminalizing pot in just a few states in the USA… it needs to be decriminalized on a federal level nationwide. Case and point:

        And, I hate to break it to you, but even in my crippled state from the kine bud I just torched, I easily found this chart that…

        Shows violent crime has been going DOWN in California since pot was decriminalized:

        1. Cmon cowicide, you know it is much easier to post random, gut-feeling, knee-jerk reactions to things than it is to get all facty and evidency about it like you are always doing. If we are forced to make policy decisions based on verifiable facts and statistics what will the people that run the US government do for a living?

      2. How many times this week has the Alcohol industry decapitated someone? This year? This decade? How about in the 1920s? Yeah.

        They used to gun down *anyone* in their path back then. You sure don’t hear much about them now do you? We have alcohol abuse, we have people living on the streets because they’re unable to deal with their addiction, and those are bad problems. Tell me, would you rather trade that for the good ol’ tommy gun rum running days?

        Giant, highly profitable black markets create a secondary market for high risk taking violent people to carry out work within them. Get rid of one, and the demand will drop for the other.

        Unfortunately, the tertiary market is militarized police forces and prison systems. Both of wich need the secondary market to justify their current budget and staffing levels. The whole thing feeds itself, it’s an additive-feedback loop.

      3. It’s still not fully legal and regulated properly, though.  It’s in this weird not-quite-illegal-not-quite-legal state.  Also, being legal in a couple states isn’t the same as being legal on the FEDERAL level.

      4. California, Mexico’s largest drug market in the US, effectively decriminalized pot last year…

        Are you posting from an alternate universe where Prop 19 wasn’t defeated? If I wanted to buy pot today I’d have to deal with some kind of criminal, be they a street dealer or a shady doctor willing to write a bogus prescription I could take to a medical dispensary.

        Even so, treating marijuana possession as a low-level offense has still helped decrease violent crime in California.

      5. Decriminalizing pot and other drugs will only help if the price goes down. Even in a legal market, if the price is high enough because of taxes etc, criminals will move in to sell a cheaper product.  The solution is to sell legal, available drugs at a price that makes running a criminal enterprise to sell it uneconomical.

    1. What are they posting that has the drug lords so terrified?


      The most deadly “substance” known to humankind and, ironically, the most liberating as well.

  3. Just one more casualty due to prohibition like laws that feed the uber violence of Mexico.  The U.S. has spent a trillion dollars on mideast wars, and we turn our backs to the one happening to our neighbors.  That’s criminal in itself, but not surprising.

    1. In fact, it is. Being a mexican, living in Querétaro (About 200 miles north of Mexico City) I can assure you the state is functioning, if not perfectly, at least better than for the past 50 years. Yes, the narco situation on the borderline states is terrible, but hardly any government could stop the cartels: They grow powerful  having such an immense market for their products in the United States, a country whose government has proven incapable of coming with a better solution, other than disastrous programs like “Fast and Furious”. ( )
      United State’s government does not have the political intention of legalizing marihuana, nor implement a real weapon control program. Everybody knows it’s lack of action in killing thousands south of the border, but as long as the violence does nos affect it’s citizens, it is not really part of the agenda.”All men are created equal”, yeah, sure. (Sorry for the rant, it is a matter close to my heart, and for my too imperfect english.)

      1. That is actually very good to hear – thank you Manuel. Our news system in the US is built around only reporting the sensational and tragic – stories that are normal or peaceful never get told, and I am glad to be mistaken. I agree that simplistic drug policies are only making the situation worse, but just as there is too much money being made by the cartels in Mexico, there is also too much money being made in the US by people promoting the “War on Drugs”. It affects our citizens too, but even then it just becomes fuel for the next political campaign, never a reason to actually do something different. These tragedies never seem to affect the people who make the money – and therefore make the decisions – on either side of the border.

    2. Is there some reason Mexico should still be considered a functioning nation-state anymore?

      I wonder the same thing about the USA sometimes.

  4. I’m beginning to think that drugs will never be legalized. Not because governments believe them to be harmful (most evidence suggests otherwise these days), but because legalizing them would put violent psychopaths like these at the top of the supply chain, and make them legitimate businesses.

    1. I think legalizing marihuana in the United States and in Mexico would deprive the cartels of it’s main cash source. It would exchange a security problem, for a health problem that already exists,  that can be dealt with by other means.

      Other countries have already done it. I think is inevitable (a word that means the same in english and spanish)  

    2. You mean the way crime families came to dominate every brewery and distillery in the U.S. following the repeal of Prohibition?  

      Oh wait … 

      1. You mean the way crime families came to dominate every brewery and distillery in the U.S. following the repeal of Prohibition?  

        Oh wait …

        I’m all in favor of legalization, and I think it’s the best strategy of dealing with drugs. It would deprive criminals of revenue and allow drug problems to be treated as what they are: health issues, not legal ones. The sceintific and cultural evidence is clear: prohibition doesn’t work.

        But I think your…analogy… is a bit of a simplification. Criminals like illegal products; the profit margin is high; they have no regulation to deal with; competition is limited to other criminal organizations; etc. But the unsavory types will become involved in legal markets too if the profit is there.

        Take a look at Amsterdam, for example. Over the past decade or two organized crimes has taken up a strong presence — perhaps even a dominant one — in prostitution, despite it being a legal trade. The criminal cartels would perhaps prefer that prostitution were illegal, but let’s face it: they are practical people, not idealogs. If there is good money to be made in a market where their lack of concern over the law is a competitive advantage, they’ll take advantage of it.

        Legalization is the right answer for many reasons, and it will deprive the unsavories from some of their power and money. It would be good for both the US and Mexico. But don’t be fooled that they’ll just fold up shop and take  jobs at the nearest 7-11…

        And this happens in the US too. Organized crime often becomes involved in legal activities. Just ask Jimmy Hoffa.

        1. Corruption of a legit business isn’t new.  Look at what the Mafia in the US did to the olive oil importing business at first then the construction trades, unions, casinos, etc.

    1. No, no creo que México requiera una revolución en los términos de un refundación absoluta del estado, ni de crear un organo constituyente. La falta de un estado de transición ocasionaría una crísis social de la que dificilmente de puede recuperar cualquier nación.  Creo que el cambio político real no puede ocurrir por una elección, o de un día a otro, sino a lo largo de varias décadas, un proceso en el que de hecho estamos. 

      And maybe you meant “¿Está México listo para la revolución?”  ;)

      1. ¿Está México listo para la revolución?

        I asked for a revolution and all I got was this lousy Partido Revolucionario Institucional.

  5. if they dump bodies at the same spot and aren’t  identified, then obviously the local cops at least are coopted.  a narcocracy would seem in place.

  6. Not to belittle it but this is the fantasy of every person who has ever raged online.  “You already got some loot, I should get the Sword of Slaying!  I’m gonna find where you live…”

  7. We’ve learned nothing from our great experiment of outlawing intoxicants during Prohibition. Since we don’t learn, we are doomed to repeat it, like the movie Groundhog Day.

  8. What if everyone just, like, stopped doing drugs?
    I know it sounds crazy, but if you can boycott veal you could boycott pot, right?

    1.  They couldn’t do that!

      Pot isn’t addicting whatsoever of course, but they… just wouldn’t stop, you know?  Not necessarily ‘can’t stop’, but… you know.

      I’m all for legalization, by the way, I just think anyone who claims a narcotic substance isn’t addicting is a bloody twit.

      1. It’s not addictive in the commonly understood medical use of the term, in that there are no physical withdrawl symptoms and little tolerance develops from sustained use.
        It’s habit forming for sure, and can be a destructive influence in peoples lives, but the same is true for junk food and television.
        People who use terms like ‘addictive’ when talking about pot typically want to confuse it with genuinely dangerously addictive drugs like heroin, nicotine and alcohol.

        1. ‘ Habit forming’ and ‘addictive’ are similar enough to warrant being grouped together.

          I give you it isn’t anything like as bad as meth or heroine in terms of addictive qualities, but it is still addictive.

          I’d class alcohol in with pot in terms of ‘addictive’ qualities, though.  I like a fine scotch or a top-end craft brew every now and then, in the same way the average pot smoker likes to have the occasional puff.  It is perfectly acceptable and not at all dangerous to the health and frankly it doesn’t harm anything or anyone.

          If I started to drink every day, like a burnout smokes every day, well – that swiftly becomes an addiction, with the resulting brain rot being obvious in both cases.

          1. I’d class alcohol in with pot in terms of ‘addictive’ qualities, though.

            Are you serious?  Pot is not as addictive as alcohol.  I used to smoke daily.  I stopped cold turkey (I do smoke now, though not daily).  I had no ill affects, aside from a small craving that eventually faded (mostly I just missed the comfort of it).  If you are an alcoholic and stop cold turkey you could die.  You can’t just stop drinking cold turkey if you are a hardcore alcoholic.  Someone I know that was in rehab said that alcoholics were watched much, much more closely than even heroin addicts, because stopping alcohol cold turkey is far more dangerous than stopping heroin cold turkey.  Did you know that?
            You could never, ever smoke enough pot to overdose or die.  Never.  But it doesn’t even take that much to get alcohol poisoning.  One binge and you could die.  That would never happen with pot, even if you ate 20 magical brownies.

            I used to date a hardcore alcoholic.  It was scary. He wasn’t abusive or anything, but man … I was basically watching himself slowly kill himself, with every drink.  If he didn’t have a drink in the morning, he would shake and eventually have a seizure.  I’ve known plenty of potheads, and they weren’t slowly killing themselves by smoking, even the stereotypical stoners.  If they stopped cold turkey, on purpose or because their source dried out … they were maybe sad or irritable, but they didn’t almost die because of it.

            Alcohol and marijuana addiction are NO WHERE NEAR the same thing.

            If I started to drink every day, like a burnout smokes every day, well – that swiftly becomes an addiction, with the resulting brain rot being obvious in both cases.

            And that’s not necessarily true, either. I know a hardcore stoner who gets only the best stuff and smokes every single evening, and all weekend. He’s been doing this for over a decade. He has a wonderful, well-paying, high-responsibility job in the IT sector, a nice car, and just bought a fabulous house. He also plays music as a hobby, likes to paint occasionally, and is going to get a dog. He has no “brian rot”, and he smokes daily!

            Honestly, it’s all dependent on the person. Most stereotypical stoners would probably still be lazy bums, with or without pot. The pot didn’t make them that way; they were already that way.

          2. with the resulting brain rot being obvious in both cases.

            Also, the studies aren’t all that clear on how marijuana affects users long-term, and I’m not sure “brain rot” is the best way to describe it.  From what I understand, there may be some short-term memory loss, but even that seemed to be minimal, and there just really aren’t enough proper studies to say for sure.

            Still, the studies on how alcohol affects your ENTIRE body are pretty definitive (physically, emotionally, and mentally), and the affects are pretty horrible.  Much more horrible than how any pothead is affected by daily smoking.  And I think you know that.

          3. ‘Habit forming’ and ‘addictive’ are similar enough to warrant being grouped together

            No there is a reasonable and important distinction to be made between them in order for us to have a coherent conversation on the matter. You don’t seem to want such coherence.

            I’d class alcohol in with pot in terms of ‘addictive’ qualities, though

            Then you don’t know what you are talking about.

            If I started to drink every day, like a burnout smokes every day, well – that swiftly becomes an addiction, with the resulting brain rot being obvious in both cases.

            No, the alcohol would do far more damage. 

          1. Would you consider alcohol a narcotic? Alcohol, which is a million times more harmful for individuals and society as a whole, and also far more addictive.

            Also, hemlock berries are just berries, but they happen to be poisonous, right? Just like certain other trees and plants that really are just trees and plants … that happen to be poisonous, and which I would avoid. Your analogy is very, very weak.

    2. What if everyone just, like, stopped doing drugs?
      I know it sounds crazy, but if you can boycott veal you could boycott pot, right?

      The archaeological evidence suggests that people have been using drugs since, well, before we were actually people. So yes, this is just about as an insane strategy as prohibition.

      It’s kind of like putting all of your teenage-sexual-activity harm reduction efforts into the abstinence basket. If you want to teach abstinence that’s fine, but it’s not a harm reduction strategy of the first caliber.

    3. What if everyone just, like, stopped doing drugs?

      The irony of your plan is that only someone stoned out of his mind would think it sounded remotely viable. “It’s like… man… we could get rid of all the police TOMORROW if everyone just stopped committing crimes, man.”

      1. But couldn’t you personally say, “I feel like getting high today, but for the sake of those poor Mexicans I’ll go to the park instead”?
        What’s wrong with consumer action?

        1. The illegal drug trade from South America to the US is worth around $13 billion a year, and some estimates suggest around a third of the Mexican revenue goes to government in the form of bribes and corruption.
          But then, with poverty the way it is, the drug trade supplements every aspect of people’s lives there.
          So is there anything YOU could do to improve the living conditions for the people of Mexico, and remove the incentive for involvement in the drug trade? Does the US have any protective trade practices that might be harming Mexico?  What happens to the poor villagers when the drug money dries up because you persuaded everyone to give up grass?  What choices do you make that contribute to this problem? Couldn’t you personally say “I feel like consuming something full of high fructose corn syrup today, but for the sake of those poor Mexicans I’ll lobby congress to allow Mexican sugar into our protected market”?
          What’s wrong with consumer action?

          1. Those aren’t gangsters, they’re job creators!

            You raise an interesting point, if the US had huge fields of legal marijuana and broke the cartels’ business model, would Mexico as a whole be worse off without the export dollars, even if it meant that individual Mexicans didn’t have to worry about being internet-murdered?

          2. There’s no question. The problems they face are many, large, complex and unlikely to be resolved with any easy fix.

  9. i love Mexico (or at least the tiny fractions of it that i’ve seen) and this whole ongoing situation makes me sick. it’s beyond horrible that such an amazing place that’s so diverse and full of so many smart, wonderful people can be so over run by terrorism and corruption.

  10. Nuevo Laredo/Laredo is the largest land crossing for freight into the US from Mexico. You gotta know most of the drugs go through there.

    I support a harm reduction model for drug use. Decriminalization of many kinds of marijuana charges is a good first step. And if you wanna smoke crack, go to the local crack clinic and smoke some crack at the local crack clinic that flies the best crack ever from US govt sanctioned farms in Bolivia. But there will be a catch, you can’t get the rock until you get some drug counseling and sign a few waivers. And you still gotta pay five bucks for that government rock.

    Go for harm reduction that cuts out the Mexican gangs and the gangs are gone.

    1. Right that’s why everywhere there is cannabis use there are ultraviolent drug cartels decapitating innocent people and leaving their heads in front of primary schools. It’s that simple.

    2. What’s fueling the drug cartels are the people who buy the drugs.

      Yet another reason to decriminalize drugs and focus instead on rehabilitation instead of incarceration (where they also get drugs in prison).

  11. I’m surprised there has not been any vigilantes popping up in Mexico so far.  If a lot of the officials are corrupt and the gangs are killing people who oppose them left right and center I’m surprised some people don’t take matters into there own hands and try to take out some of the gangs themselfs.

    1. There are vigilantes in Mexico. The problem is that many of them seem to be from other drug gangs. It’s alleged, for example, that the group calling themselves the ‘Mata Zetas’ (‘Zeta-killers’) are part of the rival Sinaloa cartel.

      While there’s a certain appeal in the idea of the drug cartels exterminating each other, in practice they tend to be more efficient at murdering ordinary citizens and cops than other their own kind.

    1. Maybe because sometimes they might end up tortured and decapitated if they don’t?  Come on, now.  There are plenty of reasons someone might want to remain anonymous.  I’d say NOT WANTING TO BE TORTURED AND MURDERED is a pretty good reason, don’t you?

      1. I’m sorry — my post was not properly closed captioned for the sarcasm impaired. The good news is that we agree.

  12.   I use to visit Mexico for day trips and vacations.  I enjoyed the country and its culture.  That was twenty years ago.  I would not return there now due to the violence and the ineffectiveness of the police to curb the crime, drug flow and violence.   Something should be done to stop these gangs.  They kill without fear of reprisal or consequence.  This should not be allowed.  I don’t understand why the Mexican authorities and their citizens continue to condon this kind of violence. 

  13. Is it just me, or are comments not displaying right after they’ve been posted?  Are they going through some sort of mod queue?  Or is it just disqus being an asshole?

    1. Disqus has been slow lately. We are not amused. There’s no ‘hold’ queue unless something accidentally goes to the spam bin.

      1. That’s what I was thinking.  Thanks for the info.  And I know you guys get a lot of flack, but I think you do a great job, considering how tough it must be to wrangle a bunch of BoingBoingers.  So thank you.

  14. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

    Mild to moderate psychological symptoms: • Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness • Feeling of shakiness • Anxiety • Irritability or easily excited • Emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes • Depression • Fatigue • Difficulty with thinking clearly • Bad dreams

    Mild to moderate physical symptoms: • Headache – general, pulsating • Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or the face • Nausea and Vomiting • Loss of appetite • Insomnia, sleeping difficulty • Paleness • Rapid heart rate (palpitations) • Eyes, pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils) • Skin, clammy • Abnormal movements • Tremor of the hands • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

    Severe symptoms: • A state of confusion and hallucinations (visual) — known as delirium tremens • Agitation • Fever • Convulsions • “Black outs” — when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode

    (Not to mention death.)

    Marijuana withdrawal symptoms

    Kouri and Pope examined withdrawal symptoms over 28 days abstinence from cannabis[4], while Budney et al. looked at a time period of abstinence of 45 days.[3] Their study assessed withdrawal symptoms among chronic cannabis users who were assessed daily on various symptoms while on a hospital ward for 28 days. They rated mood, anxiety, depression and irritability and compared them to those of two control groups of abstinent former heavy cannabis users and non-users of cannabis. Chronic cannabis users showed decreases in mood and appetite and increases in irritability and anxiety and their scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scale increased. Both studies used urinalysis to ensure abstinence, and showed that withdrawal symptoms began within 1–3 days of abstinence and lasted for 10–14 days.[3][2][4] According to Budney et al., the withdrawal syndrome associated with cannabis use is similar to that for tobacco but of lesser magnitude than withdrawal from other drugs like opiates or alcohol.[3]

    So, some mild depression and anxiety, and no physical symptoms at all, while with alcohol … well…

    Sorry for how it displayed, but I don’t have to edit. Let’s just say the differences between withdrawal is huge.

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