ONLY ON KOLD: Cartels on social media

Published: Mar. 25, 2014 at 2:39 AM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Chances are you have a Facebook page to connect with friends and loved ones.

You might be surprised to know drug cartels have pages as well and are using social media to expand their drug empires.

Their goal? To attract young recruits.

"They play to their greed, they play to their desires of making a lot of money," said DEA special agent Ramona Sanchez.

She said it's a campaign with big guns, big crews and lost of money.

"Boasting the criminal skills and the criminal possessions."

We found a Twitter account belonging to a man with ties to drug lord Joaqin El Chapo Guzman. It has pictures of tricked out trucks and even a pet lion.

Sanchez says there's also a fear factor: Videos on YouTube of masked men terrorizing rival gang members and a snapshot of an alleged hitman with a blind-folded hostage.

"They want to put that thought that they're untouchable, far from the hands, the reach of law enforcement."

Cartels will also use the Web to show their softer side.

"Even if we're holding arms up there, that doesn't make us bad people." One YouTube video claims to show one cartel delivering disaster aid to an area hit by Hurricane Ingrid.

"it goes back to the days of Pablo Escobar who was considered the robin hood of Colombia.  he provided all these drugs worldwide, he got very rich, but he also bought elementary schools for the kids."

Sanchez says the DEA is watching this type of online activity to track cyber crime.

"That is the future. That's evolving. It's not the investigations where you meet someone on Main Street in Tucson, Arizona and there's going to be a transaction or exchange."

She says it led to last year's takedown of an online market place selling everything from meth to pain killers.

While social media can help the DEA, it's not always reliable because in an online world, any image can be staged and lies can come off as truth.

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