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Police Bust Mexican Drug Gang For Recruiting Boys Via Video Games

The three victims, 14 and younger, were contacted while playing the online game Free Fire, and promised paid work.

Photo of two police members in Veracruz, Mexico

Municipal Police in Cordoba

OAXACA — Police in Mexico have intervened to rescue three minors, aged 11 to 14, from recruitment into a drug gang that had enticed them through online gaming.

A top Mexican police agency official Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, said the gang had contacted the youths in the south-central city of Oaxaca, chatting through a free-to-download game called Free Fire, which involves shooting at rivals with virtual firearms.


Calling himself "Rafael," another player of the same age, the suspected gang member offered one of the youths work "checking radio frequencies and watching out for police presence" in Monterrey, northern Mexico, reported national daily El Heraldo de México. The pay was unusually good — 8,000 pesos (almost $400) every two weeks — and the youth called two friends who also wanted to get in.

Criminals use gaming and social networks

The three boys were set to take the bait, but an anonymous Mexican intelligence agent following the exchange while also posing as youth playing Free Fire, ultimately led police to a safe house in Santa Lucía del Camino, outside Oaxaca. The three were held before their transfer to Monterrey. Authorities arrested a woman who was supposed to take them there.

Gangs recruit youth who like these game, firearms and adrenaline.

Mejía said "this is an important case for interweaving the virtual and real worlds," with criminals operating "through online games and social networks." The recruiter, he said, "pretends to be young, invites [youngsters] to private meetings early in the morning or when the parents are working, when there is no proper oversight."

He said recruiters were interested in youngsters they discerned as "interested in this type of game, in firearms and adrenaline, and gradually draw them in through communication."

screenshot of the fire fire online game

Screenshot of Free Fire

Emulator PC

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

Keep reading...Show less

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