A man tortured, beheaded and dumped close to Mexico's border with the US in a gruesome cartel-style murder was not the moderator of a local online discussion forum, contrary the earlier reports.
The still unidentified victim was abused and decapitated before his body was left beside a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the town of Nuevo Laredo. A chilling message, scrawled in ink and found next to his remains, read: "Hi, I’m ‘Rascatripas’ and this happened to me because I didn’t understand I shouldn’t post things on social networks."
Last month a Nuevo Laredo en Vivo moderator Marisol Macias Castaneda – also known as Laredo Girl – was decapitated by local drug lords and dumped in the same location by the Christopher Columbus statue. This, together with the scribbled message, led to the assumption that El Rascatripas (aka The Fiddler or Scratcher) was also a moderator on Nuevo Laredo Live.
However Nuevo Laredo Live has since denied that the victim had anything to do with the site. It described the victim as a scapegoat and said the murder was an act to frighten off other members of its community, according to a tweet on its Twitter feed.
Nuevo Laredo Live reports firefights between drug traffickers and police as well as cartel checkpoints on the region's dangerous road, among other matters. Mexico's ultra-violent drug cartels – in particular Los Zetas, a group founded by Mexican special forces deserters who are engaged in a bloody turf war with their former bosses in the Gulf Cartel – regard contributors as little more than police informants.
The Mexican government estimates 35,000 people have died between between 2007 and January 2011 in Mexico's brutal and ongoing drug wars. Mexico’s military and police are guilty of multiple human right violations in their fight against the cartels, including torture, 39 “disappearances” and 24 extrajudicial killings since 2006, a report by Human Rights Watch out last week alleges.
On the other side, Los Zetas are accused of a string of atrocities, including the execution of an estimated 190 abducted bus passengers in Tamaulipas back in April and the Monterrey casino attack that left more than 50 dead in August. ®