Earlier this month, the internet hacking group Anonymous threatened revenge on the ultra-violent, Mexican drug cartel called the Zetas. Apparently, the death wreaking Zetas kidnapped one of the uber-geeks’ agents in Veracruz, Mexico. Anonymous has given the Zetas until November 5th to release the agent, or it will attack the drug lords in the only way it knows how – through the interwebs: Anonymous claims to have the names and addresses of police officers, journalists, and taxi drivers in Veracruz that either work for or protect the Zetas, and promises to make this information public. “It will not be difficult. We all know who they are and where they are. You made a huge mistake by taking one of us,” it says. “We do not forgive. We do not forget.”
So what does Anonymous get out of this? The Zetas are former Mexican military operatives, and like most drug cartels, operate above the law. So there is little hope that the Mexican cavalry will come riding to the rescue. Instead, experts assume, Anonymous secretly hopes that by releasing the information, other drug cartels competing with the Zetas will do the dirty work. The “An enemy of my enemy is my friend” theory.
Compared to the over 35,000 deaths attributed to the Zetas since 2006, the Anonymous threat to post names and addresses on websites seems anti-climatic. But it is probably going to be very effective. Drug cartels are all competing for the same customers – you and me – and whenever an opportunity exists to break into a new market, they pounce. Without remorse. Most security experts agree that other drug cartels will definitely use the information to try and eliminate (no pun intended) the Zeta’s members.
Has Anonymous gone too far? Until this event, Anonymous toyed with groups over social injustices and claims of censorship: Shutting down Scientology, attacking Sony and Bank of America, and embarrassing the Westboro Baptist Church. These stunts were mostly annoying – and in the case of Westboro, amusing. But on November 5th, Anonymous essentially signs the death warrant for a group of people they have never met. I have friends and family that work in the US military – and all would rather quit their jobs before being sent to Mexico to do counter-narcotics work. The Zetas (like most drug cartels) are ruthless (See here. And here – but be prepared for gruesome). Believe me, I am not saying the Zeta’s deserve compassion, but part of me thinks this is like releasing Ebola virus to try and fight Swine Flu. No one is really going to win here.
Except for Anonymous, who will feel even more smug and self-righteous than they usually do – which is saying something.