A Mexican blogger and social network moderator has been found tortured and killed by the Los Zetas drug cartel, the organised crime syndicate recently involved in a face-off with online hacktivists Anonymous.
The man, whose decapitated body was dumped in the early hours of Wednesday morning beside a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the town of Nuevo Laredo, near the Texas border.
A message scrawled in ink on a blanket left beside the body identified the victim as 'El Rascatripas' (The Fiddler/Scratcher), and said: "this happened to me because I didn't understand I shouldn't post things on social networks".
The victim is believed to have been a moderator on local social networking site Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, and is fourth apparent victim of the ruthless Los Zetas drug cartel to have been murdered in the town over the last two months.
A man and a woman were found disembowelled and strung from an overpass in September. Less than two weeks later, another Nuevo Laredo en Vivo moderator, Marisol Macias Castaneda, known as 'The Laredo Girl', was found dumped at the same spot as the most recent victim.
The drug syndicate has targeted online activists after local people have been using social media to report on gang activities or criticise local drug lords.
Online hacktivist group Anonymous recently abandoned 'OpCartel', a threat to release details of 75 Los Zetas collaborators - allegedly gleaned from 25,000 hacked Mexican government e-mails obtained by the group - after an unidentified Anonymous member allegedly kidnapped by the gang was released unharmed. The cartel threatened to kill ten people for every one of its associates identified.
Former Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown, who reportedly supplied the hacked emails to German newspaper Der Spiegel, is said to be in hiding, fearing for his life after outing a US district attorney alleged to be working with the Los Zetas cartel, reports Dallas-based news portal FrontBurner.