The hacktivist collective Anonymous is in possession of 25,000 emails stolen from the Mexican government, which they'll use soon to out scores of Mexican drug cartel collaborators, says a spokesman. This is insane, if it's true. (A big if.)
Anonymous' operation against Mexico's notorious Los Zeta drug cartel carries on despite confusion over whether the hacktivist collective had called off their risky attack, according to a blog post by Anonymous Latin America.
Anonymous' informal spokesman Barrett Brown confirmed this in an interview today, and also made the explosive claim that Operation Cartel hackers were working off of 25,000 stolen "Mexican government" emails to compile a list of at least 75 collaborators with the Zetas. Brown says Mexican Anonymous hackers stole the emails in unrelated operations but wouldn't give any other details about the supposed cache.
The group is planning to release the list on November 5th along with supporting evidence including emails, though it might be delayed to allow further vetting, Brown said. Who will be on the list?
"These are taxi drivers involved in kidnappings. There's obviously a number of officials. Police officers," Brown said.
Any names on the list could become the targets of the Zetas' enemies. In September, 35 bodies were found in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz along with a note claiming the victims were supporters of the Zetas.
But Brown said Anonymous is releasing the names with the goal of causing violent chaos among Zetas' ranks. "It's going to be a bloodbath," he said. It's payback for the kidnapping of an Anonymous member in Veracruz by Zeta members, according to Operation Cartel's planners.
So, these are some pretty spectacular claims about a very, very stupid plan. But there's plenty of reason to doubt the claim. Brown says he's working closely with OpCartel but admits he hasn't seen the emails—they've only been described by a trusted member of the operation. And while Brown mostly reliable about the Anonymous goings-on (he's been a well-known, if informal spokesman on-and-off for more than a year) he's prone to exaggerating the magnitude and influence of Anonymous' operation. Then there's the case of the much-ballyhooed 4GB of Sun emails, allegedly stolen by LulzSec hackers summer. Months later, there's still no evidence they ever existed.
But there's also the case of HBGary, the security firm whose emails Anonymous really did steal and leak, implicating enormous banks and corporations in an embarrassing scheme to smear Wikileaks.
Whether or not the emails exist it seems that Brown has a strong death wish. He tweeted yesterday "Zeta: Give us back our Anonymous participant or many of you die within a week." But he's not worried, even though he lives closer than most to the border, in Texas.
"I mean, it's a drug cartel, they're violent people," he said. "But they're not going to come streaming up the street in downtown Dallas and kill me."
We'll be looking for those emails. In the meantime, it's worth wondering how much of Brown's posturing has to do with his upcoming Anonymous book.