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Story Publication logo November 7, 2008

Mafia 2.0: Mexican drug cartels take to the Web



By Mariano Castillo, special to the Pulitzer Center

Mariano Castillo's contribution is the result of a partnership between the Pulitzer Center and the Columbia University course "Wired World," taught by Anya Schiffrin, Tom Glaisyer, and Jed Miller. Mariano is the former Border Bureau Chief for the San Antonio Express-News, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in International Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairsat Columbia University.

In September, a Mexican drug cartel published a letter on the Internet vowing to kill a state governor, or so the rumor went. Was it true? To find the answer, a woman under the moniker "Calindiux," turned not to the media, but to Yahoo! Answers.

Within hours, fellow Internet users had posted not one, but two letters allegedly disseminated by the drug cartels that have been blamed for more than 3,500 deaths across Mexico this year alone.

Since his election in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has made the battle against the five major drug cartels that operate in country the centerpiece of his administration. Tens of thousands of troops were deployed, but successes have been few. Violence continues unabated, especially between rival drug cartels.

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