Hackers with the online collective Anonymous say that they will press on with a war against their latest target despite threats of certain death. Anonymous says they are about to battle it out with the notorious Mexican drug cartel the Zetas.
Citing an abduction of a fellow hacker as the motivation for their upcoming assault, Anonymous members say that they will release thousands of names connected with the Zetas drug cartel if their comrade is not released by Saturday, November 5. According to Anonymous hackers, they’ve illegally obtained around 25,000 emails from the Mexican government which they will leak online to out people affiliated with the Zetas through a mission they are calling OpCartel. They say that the roster they’ve managed to put together by combing through the governmental emails identify at least 75 individuals affiliated with the Zetas.
Anonymous officials say police officers and other authorities are all connected to the violent drug ring. Given the notoriety of the Zetas and the seriousness of the ordeal, leading hackers with the collective say that only veteran “Anons” should participate in the online onslaught.
Unofficial Anonymous spokesperson Barret Brown of Texas has posted a video to YouTube in which he warns rookie hackers to sit out this sting, but despite acknowledging the possibilities of an attack on the Zetas, he says he isn’t scared.
"I mean, it's a drug cartel, they're violent people," says Brown. "But they're not going to come streaming up the street in downtown Dallas and kill me."
Others say that that might exactly be the case.
Stratfor, an internationally renowned security company, tells The Guardian that the Zetas have already hired experts in an attempt to hunt down the Anonymous users responsible for the rally. According to Stratfor, this could mean “abduction, injury and death" for any hackers that are caught.
Earlier this week disemboweled bodies were founding hanging from a bridge near the border city of Nuevo Laredo, where the corpses were accompanied with signage warning social network users to keep "funny things" off the Internet. Both of the deceased were young bloggers who wrote about the drug ring.
Earlier this week, however, Brown warned the Zetas via his Twitter account that he was serious himself. “Give us back our Anonymous participant or many of you die within a week,” he tweeted.
Another Twitter user aligned with Anonymous using the handle @Sm0k34n0n also called participating in the leak as a risky maneuver and warned new members to not partake. He added, however, that trying to stop the movement from happening would mean equivocate to pledging allegiance to the Zetas.
Brown adds that this attack won’t necessarily take down the Zetas, but it will pose a problem for the drug lords. He did say, however, that it could open the door for further Anonymous assaults in the future.
"Fundamentally, there's no way to stop the Zetas or any other cartel other than legalizing drugs, which is something that's more of a long-term ambitious effort that Anonymous could potentially pursue,” Brown says in his YouTube video.
In the meantime, however, Anonymous officials have confirmed that they do plan to go ahead with their attack on the Zetas, regardless of whether some hackers say it isn’t the best move for the collective to make. Many Anons have already retreated and given up on the cause and no hackers have yet to provide concrete proof that they have in fact obtained the 25,000 emails they say they have in their possession.
"Are we afraid? Clearly so. Do we fear for our lives? Obviously. Notwithstanding that, we think it is time to say 'enough,'" reads a statement posted by the group on the Anonymous IberoAmerica website. "We will go ahead with the operation, because people have asked us to."
Brown has appeared on YouTube unmasked speaking to the Zetas and Anons and shows no sign of backing down, even with his identity out in the open for a Zetas-ordered hit. When asked why he showed his face, Brown responded "because I was asked to do so by several Mexicans who are risking their lives for this, too."