Transcripts of newly released text messages between a crime boss and a deputy police chief have finally lifted the lid on the mystery of 43 students who went missing one night in southwestern Mexico.
The messages indicate that the cops and the cartel worked together to capture, torture, and murder at least 38 of the 43 student teachers who went missing in September of 2014.
The students had made the deadly mistake of commandeering several buses in order to drive to Mexico City for a protest. It now seems clear that those buses were part of a drug-running operation that would carry a huge cargo of heroin across the U.S. border—and the students had accidentally stolen the load.
It seems like the WSJ’s entire San Francisco bureau has been preoccupied lately with churning out a series of stories sourced from “leaked” internal Facebook documents exposing embarrassing internal reports on everything from Instagram’s deleterious impact on the mental health of its twentysomething and teenage users to political divisiveness to – today’s entry – how Facebook’s products are abused to facilitated human trafficking and terror recruitment in parts of the emerging world.
The gist of the piece is this: Facebook has a small staff dedicated to combating human trafficking around the world, particularly in countries where the rule of law isn’t as robust as it is in the US and Europe. In the Middle East, Facebook is used to lure women into sex slavery (or some other form of exploitative labor).
In Ethiopia, armed groups use the site to recruit and to incite violence against other ethnic minorities.
Facebook’s monitors have also sent reports to their bosses on everything from human organ trafficking, pornography and child pornography, and government’s cracking down on political dissent.
The documents leaked to WSJ show that while Facebook removes some pages, many continue to operate openly.
While some might sympathize with Facebook’s inability to whack every mole (after all, they’re fighting a never-ending torrent of misconduct). But the sad truth is that Facebook could do more to stop its platform from being abused by traffickers, criminals and abusers – particularly in the emerging world (we all remember what happened in Myanmar).
The reason it doesn’t is because that would be bad for business”, according to a former chief executive who resigned from the company last year. Facebook treats harm in developing countries as “simply the cost of doing business” in those places, said Brian Boland, a former Facebook vice president who oversaw partnerships with internet providers in Africa and Asia before resigning at the end of last year.
Facebook has focused its safety efforts on wealthier markets (like the US) where powerful government and media institutions can help keep it accountable. But in smaller countries, Facebook answers many problems with a shrug.
Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) has become one of the most feared paramilitaries in Mexico over the last decade. Images of the group have become the standard depiction of the Mexican cartel writ large. Their propaganda videos often feature groups of masked men bristling with enough small arms to make them formidable against even conventional armies.
In an interview aired on Mexico’s Telemundo network in May 2019, a former CJNG soldier described his experience at a training camp and claimed that the cartel employed U.S. special operations forces (SOF) to train their recruits. According to the former sicario assassin: there were Marines, there were Navy from the United States, there were Delta Force, there was everything there.”
The cartel dropout’s account is consistent with years of reports which show that U.S. special forces training is diffusing into the service of paramilitaries in Mexico.
The Special Forces training has been funded under the Plan Mérida, which has resulted in the U.S. providing more than $1.6 billion for fighting the War on Drugs, most of it in military aid.