Cartel web presence could be used against them: experts

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 19:07 EDT
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Colombian police chief Oscar Naranjo via AFP
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CANCUN, Mexico — Experts from 20 countries gathered Wednesday at the Mexican resort town of Cancun to discuss a strategy for battling organized crime, in an effort mandated by the recent Summit of the Americas.

Mexico drug cartels in particular have increasingly turned to the Internet to improve their communications, avoid detection, and recruit members, but officials say that reliance could be used in the fight against.

Quicker communication between countries to crack down on gangs is a must for regional security, officials said.

“Greater cooperation on information exchange in real time is necessary in order to make operations more effective,” Colombian police chief Oscar Naranjo told the gathering.

“Criminals take advantage of their networks… we must take advantage of our superiority as governments,” Naranjo added.

Groups like the Zetas — a brutal gang of former hitmen — have also been using the web not just to help their operations, but to terrify their enemies and normal Mexican citizens with videos of executions, images of victims after torture and killing, and to hunt down critics who denounce violence online.

An expert in military intelligence said those same methods could be used to obtain information on the gangs, notably to locate offenders using tracking methods that search through photos and messages from cellular phones.

Press freedom groups have condemned growing attacks and killings of people who use social networks to share information in violent areas of Mexico, where traditional media no longer dare to report on relentless drug-related violence.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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