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Anonymous Threatens Zetas Family - Promises to Expose the Cartel

After one of their own was kidnapped while participating in Operation PaperStorm, Anonymous has threatened to expose the Zetas drug cartel unless the Anon is released. The comments, made in a video posted to YouTube, inform the Zetas family that they’ve made a huge mistake with the kidnapping, and give them until Saturday to respond.

Zetas Drug Cartel Goes After AnonymousThe first, and most obvious point to consider, is that the message to the Zetas Cartel stated that they had until November 5 to respond. This is the same date that Facebook, as well as other scattered actions were all supposed to take place. It is possible; the entire OpCartel related news cycle is a hoax, much like the planned attack on Facebook was.

With that said, assuming the video is legitimate, the Zetas Cartel (Los Zetas), is a risky target, and one that Anonymous has never encountered before. The crime family has been linked to drug trafficking, as well as trafficking operations focused on arms and people, mostly women and girls.

The U.S. and Mexican Embassies have noted the extreme violence used by the family, including public murder and beheadings. Members of the family are largely unknown, but the fact that many associates served in the Mexican Special Forces, and are corrupt law enforcement officials is common knowledge. On the other hand, the family is known for forcing others to do their bidding on the threat of death.

Anonymous has threatened to expose the underlings, those who work with the family to spread their control, including regional police, journalists, and common workers such as taxi drivers and business owners.

“For the time being, we won’t post photos or the names ... of the taxi drivers, the journalists or the newspapers nor of the police officers, but if needed, we will publish them including their addresses, to see if by doing so the government will arrest them,” a translation provided by the Houston Chronicle reads.  

“We can’t defend ourselves with a weapon, but if we can do this with their cars, houses, bars, brothels and everything else in their possession ... It won’t be difficult. We all know who they are and where they are.”

While Anonymous has threatened exposure in order to secure the release of the kidnapped person taken while spreading propaganda for Operation PaperStorm, the reality is that any released information will likely just lead to more bloodshed.

If the kidnapped Anon is released, that itself is a rare act of kindness from the Zetas family, who are more likely to see the video as a challenge and simply kill this Anon out of spite.

In turn, Anonymous will release information on Zetas collaborators as promised, but instead of arrests, Zetas rivals - such as La Familia - will target the people exposed as part of the ongoing war for territory and control. As the Zetas associates are killed by rivals, they could target activists online and offline regardless of their association with Anonymous.

Not to mention, the Zetas family is highly technical in some regards, so those supporting OpCartel could be singled out no matter what their level of involvement is. This was a fear that sparked discussion on Twitter over the weekend, as Anons entering an IRC chat were told to disguise themselves with false names, proxy services, and even altered speech patterns.

Again, this could all be a hoax. But if it is real, unfortunately there is no real win to this particular Anonymous operation, as the odds are that someone could be killed, and the Zetas family will remain just as violent and active as before.

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.