Anonymous made news recently when it went after underground child pornography rings. Now, the hacking collective is taking its crime fighting to a more dangerous level: It's attacking Mexico's Los Zetas. Last year, the "deadly" drug cartel sent a threatening message to critical bloggers by hanging a man and a woman from a freeway overpass, next to a banner saying, "This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the internet." Are the hackers in over their heads? Here's what you should know:
Why is Anonymous going after the Zetas?
The cartel runs a "ruthless campaign of killing, extortion, and kidnapping," says Robert Beckhusen at Wired. Anonymous got involved when one of its members in the coastal city of Veracruz was allegedly kidnapped during a demonstration, the reasons for which are unspecified. The hackers are trying to get their compatriot set free.
What is Anonymous threatening to do?
In a YouTube video, an unnamed person dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask — one of the hacker group's hallmarks — threatened to publish photos and other details of "police officers, journalists, taxi drivers, and others who aid the cartel" unless the kidnapped member is released, says the BBC. The masked spokesperson warns: "We know who they are and where they are."
What's going to happen next?
Publishing the identities of Zetas associates would be "extremely dangerous" for the gang, as they'd undoubtedly be targeted for murder by rivals, says Nina Mandell at the New York Daily News. Of course, the drug cartel would probably seek violent revenge against hackers, as it already has against bloggers and journalists. According to Wired's Beckhusen, some members of Anonymous are saying the risky attacks have been called off. Yet, perhaps as a testament to the group's decentralized spirit, another member warns the attacks are still very much on: "The dice are already rolling. It's not even possible for us to stop them."