Early this morning in the northern Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, police found the decapitated body of a woman with a message saying she was killed because she posted information about cartel activities on a social networking site. The narco-sign indicates the Zetas cartel was responsible. It was placed next to her decapitated head, along with two computer keyboards and a CD player.
A photo of that "narco manta" is above, and a translation follows. There are photos of her naked, mangled body circulating online. They're linked further below for those who choose to view.
This grotesque murder is the third this week in Nuevo Laredo that targeted bloggers and social networking site users. As noted in a previous Boing Boing post, the similarly tortured bodies of two people were found hanging from a bridge just days ago in this same border town. Near those bodies, another handwritten message signed by the Zetas which threatened internet users, people who post info at social networking sites, and named three "narco blogs" as targets. Cartels have long threatened journalists with conventional news outlets (radio, TV, and newspapers), but the focus on "internet snitches" is recent, and notable.
The killing took place at a site located 1 mile from the international border with the U.S., and 3 miles from the city center of Laredo, Texas. The location is indicated by the red circle in the map below.
The name of today's victim has been reported as Marisol Macias Castaneda, and she is identified as a 39-year-old newsroom manager for the Nuevo Laredo newspaper Primera Hora. However, she was apparently targeted not for her work at the newspaper, but for what she posted at an online discussion forum called Nuevo Laredo en Vivo (in English, "Nuevo Laredo Live"). That website's ID banner is below (click to enlarge).
On a messageboard at that website, Nuevo Laredo residents share drug seller sightings, and publish eyewitness tips of cartel activity for the police and army to pursue. More from an Associated Press report follows:
The site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points — possibly the information that angered the cartel. The message found next to her body on the side of a main thoroughfare referred to the nickname the victim purportedly used on the site, "La Nena de Laredo," or "Laredo Girl." Her head was found placed on a large stone piling nearby.
"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours," the message read. "For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ."
The letter "Z" refers to the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel, which is believed to dominate the city across from Laredo, Texas.
Rubiosnews, anther Spanish-language narco news site, has extremely graphic photos of the dead woman's body. Think before you click, the images are gruesome.
The specific site in Nuevo Laredo where today's killing was found is a monument to Christopher Columbus unveiled less than a year ago. That monument has become a popular dumping ground at which warring cartels drop the bodies of their beheaded and tortured victims, to terrorize local residents. There is a tall statue of Columbus, and spherical concrete globes on the ground. Photos circulating online show that the head of today's victim was placed on one of those spheres. In February, four tortured, naked, headless bodies of people killed by the rival Gulf Cartel were found on those same spheres at the foot of the monument (News report, TV item, and graphic photos).
Here is a related report at Planext on the escalation of threats against social network users in Mexico by cartels.
And finally, an excellent piece by Andres Monroy H., which gets to the heart of something that's bothering me, too: how very little attention US media seems to be paying to the ever-escalating violence in Mexico. "How much is a life worth, in pixels?"