Blog Del Narco, the anonymous tracker of Mexico's ultraviolent drug war
Interviewed by Raul Gutierrez for Boing Boing
* * *
The news arrives with disturbing regularity: 72 bodies found, a federal policeman killed, 4 men decapitated and hung from a bridge, 19 corpses found, 33 men executed, a massacre at a La Quinta Inn, Girl Assassin Squad Discovered.
This isn't news from Baghdad, it's a single week of headlines from Blog Del Narco, Mexico's rawest source of news on the ultraviolence engulfing the country. Until recently, the factional chaos was mostly confined to "Lost Cities" like Cuidad Juarez and Tijuana. Now, entire states are spiraling out of control.
Monterrey is Mexico's wealthiest city, its third largest, and until a few years ago, one of its safest. But in the last six months the metropolis has been turned upside-down. Drug gangs have set up scores of roadblocks on major highways, murdered the mayor of a prominent suburb, intimidated the media, and taken control of many neighborhoods. The military, federal police, and local police are everywhere but are almost as feared as the gangs. Systematic police and mayoral assassinations are causing entire towns to go dark. Nearly every day, newspaper editorials beg the government to save the city. All of this is happening just a two-hour drive south of the US border.
This hits home for me. I was born in Monterrey and when I call friends and family there, I hear fear in their voices. "Everyone rushes home at sunset," one friend said. "The vampires come out at night."
In this environment, the system of traditional press coverage has broken down. Reporters are often too intimidated or too exhausted to cover the daily bloodletting. Out of this vacuum have emerged a wave of so-called "Narco Blogs," documenting the widening war in graphic detail.
Blog del Narco (@infonarco on Twitter) is the most prominent and widely-read of these blogs, with about 3 million unique visits per month. The work of an anonymous twentysomething computer student, Blog del Narco shows photography and video and tells stories from the front lines of the war. Most of the photographs are images of death. Men being killed in cars, men blindfolded and shot in the desert, drug barons gunned down by government hit squads. The web pages virtually run red.
The blog's author agreed to a interview and answered a few questions via email.
Why did you start Blog del Narco?
La idea de crear Blog del Narco surge cuando los medios de comunicación y el gobierno intentan aparentar que en México NO PASA NADA, debido a que los medios están amenazados y el Gobierno aparentemente comprado, fue que decidimos crear un medio de comunicación con el cual podamos dar a conocer a la gente que es lo que pasa, redactar los acontecimientos exactamente tal cual fueron, sin alteraciones o modificaciones a nuestra conveniencia. Su propósito principal es ayudar a la población Mexicana para que tome las medidas necesarias en contra de la inseguridad.
The idea to create the Blog del Narco came because the media and government in Mexico try to pretend that NOTHING IS HAPPENING, because the media is intimidated and the government has apparently been bought. So we decided to tell people what is actually happening and tell the stories exactly as they happen, without alteration or modifications of convenience. The main goal of the blog is to help Mexican people to take all necessary measures against the insecurity.
Blog del Narco has only been around since March 2010. Did you blog before this?
Empezamos subiendo vídeos a Youtube, y comentando las notas desde @infonarco en Twitter, de hay nos me pude percatar que la población mexicana busca un medio que no digiera las noticias antes de publicarlas.
We started uploading videos to YouTube and commenting via @infonarco on Twitter. From there we could see that the population was looking for a medium that didn't pre-digest the news before publishing it.
Once you started posting, how soon was it before you started receiving information from the public, the cartels, and the various police factions?
La información que empece a recibir primero fue muy poca debido a que el publico no tenia confianza, pero en estos días recibimos mucha información.
I relieved very little information in the beginning because we hadn't won public confidence yet, but these days we receive lots of information.
Do you ever worry that you are being used for propaganda or misinformation?
BlogdelNarco solo es un simple blog; nosotros no investigamos, para eso esta la policía.
Blog del Narco is just a simple blog; we're not investigators, for that there are the police.
How have you been able to break major stories not covered in the traditional press?
México se a convertido en uno de los países mas peligrosos para la libertad de prensa, muchos reporteros han sido ejecutados o secuestrados.
Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for freedom of the press. Many reporters have been executed or kidnapped.
Recently, grenades were thrown into television stations in Monterrey as punishment for broadcasting news stories about the drug war. Have you ever been threatened?
No he recibido amenazas, y espero no recibirlas, nosotros no intentamos ofender o incomodar a la sociedad solo publicamos las notas de manera periodística.
We haven't received threats, and I hope we don't receive them. We never intend to offend or inconvenience society, we just publish posts in the manner of other journalists.
How many people know your identity? Can you stay anonymous?
Solo 2 personas muy cercanas. No tengo relación con narcotraficantes (Como muchos lo han dicho).
Only two people who are very close to me. I have no connection to the narcotrafficers (as many have alleged).
Have you ever received photos or video that you thought were too horrific to post?
No, tratamos de publicar todo, cada ves que recibimos algo que tenga contenido fuerte, advertimos antes de entrar a verlo.
No, we try to publish everything, each time we receive a communication that contains strong content. We tell people before they log on that the images are disturbing.
How do you respond to people who say that by posting images from drug gangs and hit squads, you are spreading fear and that the blog is irresponsibly violent?
Yo describiría como periodismo el echo de publicar las fotos o vídeos. La gente tiene derecho a saber cuales son los motivos de inseguridad que han incrementado notablemente en estos últimos años. La violencia que esta sucediendo en México no se debe a que el BlogdelNarco.com publica lo que pasa, lo que provoca la violencia en México son factores mucho mas importantes, y con un fin económico.
I would describe journalism as the act of publishing the photos or videos. People have a right to know why things have become so insecure in recent years. The violence that is happening in Mexico is not because the public reads about what is happening in BlogdelNarco.com, the factors that provoke violence in Mexico are much more important, and ultimately they are economic.
Following below are just a few of the leaked images published by Blog Del Narco. As many show the full horror of gang violence, we have blurred them here. Double-click to view the originals.
The brutal assassination of gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre and six others demonstrated that no-one is above the violence.
Bodies — and parts of bodies — are frequently discovered in Mexico, the victims of drug-related violence.
An SUV, holed in dozens of places following a gun battle.
Twenty-one gang members died in a shoot-out just 20 kilometers from the U.S. border.
Someone identified as a worker for the Zeta Cartel is captured and the video of his interrogation posted to YouTube.
A fight between prison inmates left 14 dead in August.
The body of Nacho Coronel, a leader of the Sinaloa cartel.
The aftermath of a massacre.
A leader of the Zeta cartel lies dead in Monterrey.
Text: Raul Gutierrez
Edits: Xeni Jardin
Design: Rob Beschizza
Headline Font: Pennyzine
More at Boing Boing
That Sinking Feeling: spooky new photos of the Titanic
By Rob Beschizza
Neominimalism and the Rise of the Technomads
By Sean Bonner
Death in Space
By Mary Roach