The Mexican drug war cannot be understood without reference to the virtual dimension. Cartels are seeking to aggressively shape the use of information within the drug war to promote an image of themselves as a source of unstoppable power and influence. Their methods range from the classic “propaganda of the deed” — killing for intimidation and effect — to psychological operations against Mexican police, military, and the public. By doing so, cartels struggle for information dominance. Civil society and press coverage of the cartel war have been quite literally silenced, pushing reportage to the margins of social media. However, the entry of cyber-vigilante organizations and use of new media by cartel gangsters have created a new dynamic that could change the rules of the game.
First, it is essential to understand that advances in information, while hailed as revolutionary, also tend to be excellent tools for facilitating the violent coercion and destruction of human life.