OpCartel - Anonymous should - not - Dox Los Zetas

For those that don’t know, there are dangerous Mexican narco-criminal gangs running amok in certain parts of Mexico. Ordinary people suffer daily violence and on-going danger from competing gangs of ‘paramilitary enforcement groups’, as the FBI calls them. In addition to the usual issues of drugs, guns and killing of other gang members that we might expect, Los Zetas regularly kidnap people off the street. They then demand a ransom or worse, it seems people are variously raped, beaten, beheaded, forced to battle to the death for sport, dissolved in acid and skinned alive amongst other shocking activities. A nasty bunch that no right minded individual or group would take on, even the police and military have failed to stop them, being pretty much the only people who have tried.

Until now that was, yesterday the hacktivist group Anonymous announced, via their usual masked video style, that they had the Los Zetas in their sights. The reason being, a member of Anonymous was a victim of kidnap by the Zetas while on the streets of Veracruz. The unnamed Anon was taking part in ‘Operation Paperstorm’, a protest approach where members post flyers with various messages on the streets of given towns.

The Announcement
The first we heard of it was via a twitter announcement last night when a tweet came up via Chron.com. Since then other sources have picked up on the story too. Their article had a link to a video that was in Spanish and posted by a user called MrAnonymousguyfawkes, who has at the time of looking just 1 video, 53 followers and a 151k views. We checked out the Anonnews.org website and saw they’d posted a notice in Pastebin about the kidnapping.

Dox’ing Los Zetas supporters
Anonymous have stated that if their member is not released by November the 5th then they’ll take action. That action of releasing details of taxi drivers, police commanders and officers, journalists and their papers that support or comply with demands of the Zetas. This action commonly called Dox’ing (Documents > Docs > Dox) implies they have good knowledge of who these people are and have information that would be of use beyond just names. Typcial Dox’ing events have seen information such as addresses, workplaces, family members and so on being named in order to thoroughly identify whoever is being Dox’d. Interestingly they don’t say they’ll Dox Zetas themselves.

Then What?
This twist on the back of #OpCartel is an incredible up-scale of approach for Anonymous and a very worrying one. It’s obvious that if Zeta members or their associates are Dox’d there will be bloodshed as rival gangs get involved and take them out. Who knows what shape this will take, murders of individuals, destruction of property, attacks on organisations such as newspapers, investigations within police forces.

What’s more, do the Anonymous members who are doing this Op think they are completely anonymous? Either they are truly brave individuals with no fear or a passion for addressing the issues or their very secure in who or where they are. Interestingly the video uses Spanish Spanish with Mexican slang, so maybe the author isn’t even in the country. The plot thickens already.

Is it already cancelled?
The next day, on the 31st a story was published in Milenio saying that the action against Zeta had been cancelled. Two members were interviewed for the article, GlynissParoubek and Skill3r, who both stated that lives couldn’t be put at risk and Anonymous wasn’t about this kind of action.

To confuse things even more @anonymouSabu, the generally perceived leader of Anonymous (Sabu is Arabic for father), tweeted that #OpCartel was a go and the group were ‘at war’. Later in the morning a further blog post went up saying support had been received after the interview and people were encouraging the operation to go ahead.

Our opinion
We discuss Anonymous and other hacktivist groups a lot here at Test Hats. The like of @anonymouSabu , @th3j35t3r who hasn’t commented on the current story as at the time of writing yet has clashed with Anonymous before, @TeaMp0isoN, LulzSec and others. They don’t always agree with each other nor do we agree with them all the time. There are mixed views within the team, we like some of what Anonymous do and The Jester is to be commended at least for taking a stand against Jihadists, Lulzsec can be admired for their ability but their targets are questionable.

One thing we were clear on however – Dox’ing Los Zetas is NOT something that Anonymous should be doing. It’s like the boy scouts going after Al-Qaeda, they are not equipped or experienced to take on an operation of this kind. They cannot hope to resolve the current woes that this gang inflict by revealing names of people who might well support them out of simple fear.

As we saw with other operations Anonymous members get found and arrested all the time. Most are low-tech savvy teenagers who follow a core leadership who can remain hidden. However, even renowned members like Topiary and others across the world have been identified, arrested and charged. This and the fact there will be bloodshed if names are released means we feel it’s way beyond what Hacktivism is about. Anonymous should cancel their actions and if they have information, hand it to the authorities, in an anonymous fashion as possible.

Remember, these gangs have already warned internet based activists and ‘snitches’ of what will happen by the disembowelling, torture and beheading of two women and a man back in September. If they are Dox’d and suffer reprisals they absolutely will come after members of Anonymous, anyone who has worn an Anonymous mask and can be identified and any other internet group that might be perceived as a risk.

In summary, this is an incredible and unexpected twist in the world of Hactivism and the place of groups like Anonymous. We commend anyone making a stand against criminal gangs and those who disrupt the norms of society and the right to live peacefully.

However, we DO NOT agree that #OpCartel moving into Dox’ing Zeta is appropriate. We encourage Anonymous to cancel the operation and act at a level appropriate to the processes of Hactivism. We're very very worried about well intentioned individuals getting hurt, please be careful.

The Test Hats Team

Los Zetas on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Zetas
The Anonymous Video announcement: (Spanish): http://youtu.be/3ZL0E1J7wOg
FBI Statement on Cartel enforcement groups: http://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/combating-violence-at-the-u.s.-southwest-border
Chron.com Article: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Online-hackers-threaten-to-expose-cartel-s-secrets-2242068.php
Link about Operation Paperstorm and source of the Pastebin link: http://www.anonnews.org/
#OpCartel https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23OpCartel
Milenio – Anonymous cancel operation against Mexican cartel: http://www.milenio.com/cdb/doc/noticias2011/d66c3c523c60b03240b8c4d4c4d79de4 (Spanish)
Blog stating the operation is still to go on: http://anonopsibero.blogspot.com/2011/10/sobre-opcartel.html (Spanish)
Two murdered for online work: http://gawker.com/5840509/drug-cartel-strings-up-bodies-to-warn-social-media-users and http://gawker.com/5843711/mexican-drug-lords-decapitate-internet-commenter