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Newspaper worker decapitated in Mexico for social network posts

The woman’s body was accompanied by a sign saying she was killed for posting on a social network.

State police and Mexican army soldiers
State police and Mexican army soldiers
Image: [File Photo] AP Photo/Felix Marquez

A WOMAN’S DECAPITATED body has been found in a Mexican border city, alongside a handwritten sign saying she was killed in retaliation for her postings on a social networking site.

The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said on the internet.

The victim has been identified as Marisol Macias Castaneda, a newsroom manager for the Nuevo Laredo newspaper Primera Hora.

The newspaper has not confirmed that title, and an employee of the paper said Macias Castaneda held an administrative post, not a reporting job.

But it was apparently what the woman posted on the local social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, or ‘Nuevo Laredo Live’ rather than her role at the newspaper, that resulted in her killing.

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. The message read:

Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I’m The Laredo Girl, and I’m here because of my reports, and yours. 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.

It was unclear how the killers found out her real identity.

By late Saturday, the chat room at Nuevo Laredo en Vivo was abuzz with fellow posters who said they knew the victim from her online postings, and railing against the Zetas, a gang founded by military deserters who have become known for mass killings and gruesome executions.

They described her as a frequent poster, who used a laptop or cell phone to send reports.

“Girl why didn’t she buy a gun given that she was posting reports about the RatZZZ … why didn’t she buy a gun?” wrote one chat participant under the nickname ‘Gol’.

Earlier this month, a man and a woman were found hanging dead from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a similar message threatening “this is what will happen” to internet users. However, it has not been clearly established whether the two had in fact ever posted any messages, or on what sites.

The Guardian reports meanwhile that on the bodies of two female  journalists were found dead in a park in Mexico City. Marcela Yarce founded the political magazine Contralinea and Rocio González was a freelance journalist.

Last week 35 bodies were dumped on a street in a Mexican gulf coast city. The killings are also thought to be related to the Zetas drug cartel.

Residents of Mexican border cities often post under nicknames to report drug gang violence, because the posts allow a certain degree of anonymity.

Social media like local chat rooms and blogs, and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are often the only outlet for residents of violence-wracked cities to find out what areas to avoid because of ongoing drug cartel shootouts or attacks.

Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence.

Mexico’s Human Rights Commission says eight journalists have been killed in Mexico this year and 74 since 2000. Other press groups cite lower numbers, and figures differ based on the definition of who is a journalist and whether the killings appeared to involve their professional work.

Mexico: bodies hung from bridge as warning to social media users>

35 bodies dumped on Mexican street during rush hour>

- Additional reporting by AP

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Emer McLysaght

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