[ISN] The Drug Cartels’ IT Guy

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/radio-silence By Brian Anderson motherboard.vice.com March 3, 2015 It could have been any other morning. Felipe del Jesús Peréz García got dressed, said goodbye to his wife and kids, and drove off to work. It would be a two hour commute from their home in Monterrey, in Northeastern Mexico’s Nuevo León state, to Reynosa, in neighboring Tamaulipas state, where Felipe, an architect, would scout possible installation sites for cell phone towers for a telecommunications company before returning that evening. That was the last time anyone saw him. Felipe’s wife, Tanya, is haunted by his disappearance. “All this time I’ve spent searching for his whereabouts,” she told me. Felipe was 26, with clear hazel eyes and a wide mouth, when he disappeared on March 19, 2013, just under two years ago. It’s a story, or lack thereof, that’s common across Mexico. People vanish, and the vast majority of cases aren’t solved for years, if they’re ever closed at all. Tanya is just one of the bereaved in an expanding web of loved ones and friends left with more questions than answers, and a collective resolve to seek justice for los desaparecidos. They’re waiting for the phone to ring. Only this story is, perhaps, not just another kidnapping. What happened to Feli​pe Peréz? One theory suggests he was abducted by a sophisticated organized crime syndicate, and then forced into a hacker brigade that builds and services the cartel’s hidden, backcountry communications infrastructure. They’re the Geek Squads to some of the biggest mafia-style organizations in the world. That’s how Tanya sees it, at least. She looks at the rash of kidnapping cases across Mexico, many of which have taken place in Tamaulipas, targeted specifically at architects, engineers, and other information technology types, and can’t help but think Felipe was one of them. Nearly 40 information technology specialists have disappeared in Mexico s​ince 2008, allegedly nabbed by one of the two dominant gangs in the region, the Cartel del Golfo or Los Zetas. […]