Nobody Takes Selfies Like Mexican Cartel Members

The Knights Templar (or "Caballeros Templarios," in Spanish) are particularly seasoned when it comes to social media. The group used to run a Facebook page under the immediately transparent pretense of being a "small business," which gathered over 10,000 Likes and regular messages of support until it was shut down earlier this year.

Of course, there's another way of garnering attention online when your group page gets closed by the mods: incessantly posting selfies of yourself with guns. Antoine pointed me in the direction of a guy calling himself "Broly," who lists his employment history as Knights Templar and has posted photos of his high performance 4x4, his gang of weapon-toting colleagues, and many, many more that are just him pouting and holding firearms.

"Broly" pouting

Other cartel profile highlights include a Twitter account of a prominent member of an "enforcer gang," which contains photos of his gold-plated machine guns; a profile purporting to represent the Sinaloa cartel with pictures of what looks like a pet tiger; and an Instagram photo of a cartel member holding an AK-47 out the window of a sports car. All of these cartel profiles are public—something that must be starting to get slightly humiliating for the law enforcement agencies pumping millions of dollars into catching them.

"Broly" and his friends

Cartels also have analysts working for them, monitoring social media "to find out what Mexicans are saying and keeping an eye on the movement of troops in and out of a city," according to Antoine. Doing so means the bosses can direct their own forces appropriately without picking up any unwanted attention on the ground. Cartels are also using encryption techniques like Onion routing to stay one step ahead of the law. "They are aware of the need to cover their tracks in cyberspace," Antoine said.

It's important to note that the cartels' application of this kind of approach, while relatively new, is far from crude. In May of this year, one half of the duo behind Blog del Narco—the most read and influential blog on Mexico's drug war—disappeared. His partner, who goes under the pseudonym "Lucy," told the Guardian he had called her phone, before saying "run" and hanging up immediately. The pair had agreed to use "run" as a codeword for fleeing the country when things got really dangerous, but it's unknown whether Lucy's partner ever made it out as he hasn't been heard from since. 

If the cartels did get to him before he made it across the border, they wouldn't have done so easily. "It has been done by advanced means: reverse hacking and finding out the identity of the people who are behind what are often anonymous posts online," Antoine explained. "It takes some technological savvy to find out who's behind them and then to track them down and kill them in real space."

It's similar technology that would account for the rise of a whole new kind of crime: "express kidnappings," which are typically planned and carried out in a number of hours rather than days and usually don't involve anyone being taken hostage at all.

A car filled with weed.

According to Antoine, "New technologies such as smart-phones are leaving people very vulnerable to kidnappings." After hackers have compromised a device belonging to a target, the target receives a call telling them that their relative has been taken hostage—a claim legitimized with location data and other information taken from the phone. They're also told that they're being watched, with the criminals tracking their whereabouts through GPS. The victim is then told that they must not hang up, before being directed to an ATM and getting in a taxi to head to a meeting point where they've been told to hand over the money.  

Once they arrive, the criminals can simply take what they want and drive away, all without leaving the comfort of their keyboard. Of course, this technology could also be used by cartels to very easily trace an assassination target, or even for the hitman to take the lazy approach and lure the mark out to wherever they wanted, before putting a bullet between their eyes and driving off without undertaking any of the traditional legwork.      

Whatever the outcome, it's achievable with very few resources and was impossible before the increase of cheap, readily available smart phones.

A photo of a cartel member's suped-up 4x4.

However, with the cartels becoming more reliant on the internet, it could also easily become an Achilles' heel. "At the moment it gives them an edge," Antoine told me, "but it could backfire very quickly."

lol @ the war on drugs. For what?

No quantifiable positive gain.

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that really is a dope ass truck though

VUs to the first OGer who trolls that guy on Facebook. Phone Post



Whoa... Check out that 4x4...

If they friend you on fb are you fucked?

Jim_Kelly - Whoa... Check out that 4x4...

...That is hot. Someday, Jennifer. Someday. Wouldn't it be great to take that truck up to the lake? Throw a couple of sleeping bags in the back. Lie out underneath the stars.

during a time when the headlines are full of stories about the NSA reading everything, these guys are using social media to promote their drug cartel activities?

Moar Phone Post 3.0

That truck is damn nice. I'm willing to bet half a dozen people from this board could take all of those guys very easily.


Now this is some serious firepower. Eric Holder knows how to hook a brotha up

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that is a nice Ford.

NeoSpartan - that really is a dope ass truck though

They'd fit right in in the 909

I'll happily take any of those Steyr's off their hands Phone Post 3.0

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Fascinating Phone Post

D.A. - 



Nice gloves....

At least they keep him warm in ol' Mexico.

If I were to be raped and beheaded, I would like it to be done by such a handsome Latin cartel member as such.