Researchers: Drug cartels taking to social media to recruit - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Researchers: Drug cartels taking to social media to recruit, improve image

Posted: Updated:
Former Attorney General Terry Goddard Former Attorney General Terry Goddard
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
"Selfies" are no longer just for tech-savvy teens and celebrities. Drug cartel members are now snapping the self-portraits and posting them on social media to recruit young members and try and glorify their image.

According to Vice.com, Mexican drug cartel members are taking to social media to spread their message in a public relations campaign of sorts. 

"They're trying to recruit, they're trying to get a better image, especially among young people," said former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who has dealt extensively with combating the cartels. He said in the past, members have used social media to track what people were saying about them.

"There's one famous incident where a couple was hanging on a bridge, literally and figuratively, from a bridge, because they were saying unfavorable things on a blog about the cartels," Goddard said. 

Now, a Canadian research organization called the SecDev Foundation has found many are posting pictures of drugs, money, guns and even "selfies" on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

"[They] talk about how they're helping with disaster relief and to show flattering pictures with their gold AK-47s," Goddard said.

"It is one example of an organization using a communication tool like social media to build a following," social media expert Stephanie Riel said. She said putting this online activity out there for the world to see is brazen.

"I don't know if I would put something like that out there if I was involved in that kind of an organization," Riel said.

But Goddard said that's exactly what they want. 

"I think they want us to think they are overly confident and safe, so the social media posts make them look invulnerable," Goddard said.

We reached out to the DEA and they said they haven't seen any of these status updates posted here in Phoenix.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow