Originally Published in the The Voice Of Russia
Only a few years ago, drug dealers were using pagers and pay phones to avoid detection from authorities in the illicit business. Now, with the advent of social media, many web-savvy Mexican narcos started using Twitter, Facebook and other online tools to run PR campaigns, post selfies, brag about their wealth and even target rivals.
Like any burgeoning business, Mexico’s drug cartels are using the web to conduct very successful public relations campaigns that put those of their counterparts in Colombia and Myanmar in the 1980s to shame.
“They advertise their activities, they conduct public relations initiatives, and they have basically turned themselves into their own media company,” Antoine Nouvet from the SecDev Foundation, a Canadian research organization, told Vice Magazine. “Colombia’s cartel groups or drug traffickers in Myanmar in the 1990s were very sophisticated at public relations, but they didn’t have this massive broadcasting platform.”
These pictures broadcast the drug cartel lifestyle to a captive audience, Mr Nouvet argued, which also helps the gangs’ recruiting efforts.
As quickly as pages are deactivated by Facebook, they reappear with the same song and dance – drugs and guns, girls and trucks.
Cartels have also begun to use social media to promote a more positive image, according to an analyst that spoke with the site.
YouTube has become the place for the cartels to show that they aren’t as bad as people thought they were…or at least that’s what they want you to think.
A video posted on the website after Hurricane Ingrid wrecked havoc on the country’s northeastern coast shows members of the Gulf cartel handing out aid to storm victims. The YouTube clip has garnered almost half a million views.
An august diatribe by ‘La Tuta,’ the leader of the Knights of Templar cartel has almost 1 million views on YouTube. By comparison, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s State of the Union address has less than 16,000 views.
But these cartel members aren’t just posting evidence of their good deeds – they are also following in the footsteps of Instagram icons like Kim Kardashian by posting “selfies.”
One alleged cartel member, who identifies himself as ‘Broly,’ lists his job as a member of the Knights Templar cartel and is notorious for photos of his high performance 4 by 4, his gang of weapon-toting colleagues, and a slew of him just him pouting and holding firearms.
Broly, the most prominent member on social media, has a bizarre cadre of selfies with guns or pouting or pouting with guns.
Also uncovered by MailOnline is the prolific use of file photos meant to make the cartel life look more dramatic.
Many pictures of massive firearms, men with ski masks, ski mask-wearing snipers with massive firearms and others, all turned up as stock images.
Much like their well-publicized beheadings and hanging dead bodies from bridges, cartels have used the web to publicize their more gruesome tactic.
Last month, a video allegedly from the ultra-violent Zetas cartel was posted on Facebook that showed the gory 40-second beheading of a young woman, causing international uproar when the social media site refused to take it down.