A man may have been kidnapped by Mexican drug cartels for his IT skills
March 5, 2015 9:00 PM   Subscribe

A telecommunications worker has disappeared, and there seems to be evidence that drug cartels are responsible. Missing man Felipe del Jesús Peréz García is one of about 40 IT professionals who have been taken in the region, possibly to maintain communications infrastructure for drug lords.
posted by averysmallcat (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
It seems like it would be far easier to just pay people to do this sort of work then it would be to kidnap and enslave them. I suspect there are a lot of people who would be happy to do it for the right price. Not to mention that a willing participant will actually speak up if there is something deficient in the plan, so it seems like it would be safer, also.

That said, who the hell knows what goes through the mind of cartel bosses. Or any bosses of any sort, for that matter.
posted by wierdo at 10:13 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can easily believe they'd kidnap someone. The cartels are engaged in human trafficking.

And besides which, there's the time they hijacked a passenger bus, ran it out into nowhere, forced the men to engage in a death match with hammers, raped the women and children, and finally ran the survivors over with the bus. Because it was amusing.

So kidnapping an IT geek? Not a problem. Expedient, even.

Wikipedia entry re: the massacre.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems like it would be far easier to just pay people to do this sort of work then it would be to kidnap and enslave them.

Once the technician knows the details of the cartel's network, antenna locations, and so on, then the cartel doesn't want them running around and talking to the police or competitors.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:41 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can easily believe they'd kidnap someone. The cartels are engaged in human trafficking.


Eh...not really. The cartels mostly extort smugglers (known in Mexico as polleros, or "chicken-farmers," because the migrants are the little pollitos). If you read Spanish, I recommend Óscar Martínez's read (free) or this paper by Simón Izcara Palacios (paywall).

Martínez's argument about the San Fernando murders is that they were done to send a message to polleros: Pay up, or the human "inventory" will be confiscated. Now, dealing with cartel messages/messaging is often tricky. However, this version has widespread acceptance among my contacts in the migrants-social-services world in Mexico.

More importantly, US politicians often intentionally conflate trafficking (coerced or involuntary movement) and person-smuggling (typically voluntary). This serves a political purpose of equating everyday people's movements across borders with sex-trafficking rings, drug cartels, and so forth. But those things are not alike, and it's important to recognize the damage that can be enabled by uncritical acceptance of those tropes.
posted by migrantology at 11:19 PM on March 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


More importantly, US politicians often intentionally conflate trafficking (coerced or involuntary movement) and person-smuggling (typically voluntary).

That conflation is done by more than just politicians, and it is incredibly irksome.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:57 AM on March 6, 2015


"Eh… not really" seems like a pretty casual dismissal. The cartel slaughtered a few hundred people in a horrifyingly cruel manner and you nag that it's "important to recognize the damage that can be enabled by uncritical acceptance of those tropes." Good god.

The cartels are engaged in everything that can make a buck, from drug-running to illegal large-scale mining and, yes, trafficking in slaves, children, prostitutes, and IT geeks.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


i don't think it's a trope when the cartels are engaged behavior that seems be more in line with Reavers than humans.

people can click on that wiki link themselves. it's bad enough that i don't want to even repeat what i read because it's pretty damn awful.

they don't just do gruesome things to people, they are fucking insane and do gruesome things to peoples' minds before doing the gruesome things to their bodies.

maybe they are a trope, but it's hardly an uncritical or casual acceptance.
posted by sio42 at 5:56 AM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Once the technician knows the details of the cartel's network, antenna locations, and so on, then the cartel doesn't want them running around and talking to the police or competitors.

If I were approached about working for a cartel I'd just assume the threat of, "Betray us to anyone and we'll rape and kill your whole family in brutal and horrifying ways," without them having to tell me.

My first thought was also that they should be able to just hire someone but maybe what we should be taking from this is the the cartels are so good at kidnapping people and enslaving them that it really is cheaper and easier for them to do it that way.
posted by VTX at 6:34 AM on March 6, 2015


"It seems like it would be far easier to just pay people to do this sort of work..."

...unless the work was so confidential for them, that you knew that the person in question could never, ever be allowed to leave their absolute control.

Cartels can afford to hire some people to do some things... but I would suspect the need to permanently silence employees purely for security reasons, as opposed to doing anything to actually cross them, could be bad for employee morale. It's bad enough that they don't offer everyone comprehensive health insurance!
posted by markkraft at 7:05 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you research, choose, and kidnap your employee, you can be pretty sure they're not a deep cover plant by the Feds.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is no retirement plan from working for a cartel. You work until you die or they kill you (and your family, if you make them mad). I'm not sure that an organization run on those principles can actually "hire" someone in a meaningful sense.

Even if you don't officially "work" for a cartel, if you and your family are under constant threat of kidnapping and torture, can you be said to be free?

I would love to visit Mexico, but it seems more dangerous all the time. The government seems either hapless or complicit.
posted by emjaybee at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2015


Because "plata o plomo" doesn't always work? Cartel employees are batshit crazy, but probably have to be.

I'd assume most working stiffs offered jobs within the cartel would be reluctant (because of the fear of death-by-failure-at-expertise), so kidnapping low-level people is just as easy.

As far as the massacre, it's well known around the part of the world I live in that cartel enforcers are often recruited after winning one of the random deathmatches....a random guy takes the bus, ends up killing the other men and winning the survival challenge, gets offered a job (or a bullet).
posted by GreyboxHero at 8:27 AM on March 6, 2015


I would love to visit Mexico, but it seems more dangerous all the time.

Parts of it are dangerous. The parts I've visited have felt perfectly safe, and the people are wonderful. I love Mexico and could easily become an ex-pat.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So yeah, the wiki link does talk about it a bit...as fucked up as it is, it seems like the cartels have figured out that kidnapping able-bodied (or able-skilled) people and seeing who has the "courage" to perform under pressure yields better results than open recruitment.

The gladiator fight though, man...fuck or be fucked as they put it.
posted by GreyboxHero at 8:54 AM on March 6, 2015


"Eh… not really" seems like a pretty casual dismissal.

I am actually an expert, and this is my exact area of expertise. What may look "casual" is the outcome of literally years of engagement in this area.

The major Mexican drug cartels only rarely, if ever, engage in human smuggling directly. It's a distributed business model, in which, again, they extort smugglers. That's why the US attempt at sanctioning them financially fell flat on its face: because the money takes a million different routes to get to them.

I would love to visit Mexico, but it seems more dangerous all the time.

It's safer than Louisiana. If you'd visit New Orleans or go on a swamp tour, you can go to Mexico.
posted by migrantology at 9:41 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Christ, I thought working in my IT department was difficult. Let me count my blessings.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2015


cartel enforcers are often recruited after winning one of the random deathmatches

The only way the pool cue scene in The Dark Knight could get any creepier is the thought of cartels going "full Joker" in their recruiting.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:57 PM on March 6, 2015


« Older Get ready to rumble, if you are furry and nurse...   |   "My name comes out of my mouth in English." Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments