Monday, November 8, 2010

Criminal PR

Interesting piece from Mike O'Connor, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, about the Zetas PR efforts in Tamaulipas:
The press releases began arriving about four months ago, she said. They come by email, often including photos, to a police reporter who, it is assumed for bribes, is the Zeta liaison with the press, Lopez said. The reporter sends them on to other reporters who file them to their papers.

There are two editorial lines in the press releases. According to Lopez, the Zetas write their “stories” to make the Mexican army look bad. The army is deployed in the state to help fight the Zetas. So the Zetas send stories about army human rights abuses. “Some of those stories are accurate in a small way, but they are exaggerated. Sometimes they are not true,” Lopez said.

And, then, Lopez said, the Zetas want to make the local police look good. “They protect the police because the police are their allies,” she said. “We get stories about how the police or the chief are so wonderful, especially the chief.”

At first, Lopez said, there were three or four news releases a month. Now it's two or three a week, and the releases are reaching into the society pages. Recently, there was one about the birthday party of a 5-year-old boy, apparently the son of someone high in the gang.
A similar, though not so novel, example of gangs focusing on their PR: Carlos Montemayor, La Barbie's alleged criminal heir, released a statement saying his group had nothing to do with the 20 murdered Michoacanos in Acapulco.

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