Drug king pins don’t usually have much time for nerds. Unless, of course, those nerds happen to be incredibly bright engineers able to build out clandestine radio networks.
An alarming report in Wired Thursday (Nov. 1) highlighted the disturbing phenomenon of disappearing Mexican engineers, kidnapped by drug lords like the deadly Zetas to build shadow communication networks, which allow the cartels not only to communicate securely, but also to hack military radio systems.
According to the report, at least 36 engineers and technicians have been kidnapped over the past four years alone, disappearing without a trace and no word to their families.
Hidden in rocky, off-the-beaten-track terrain, powered by solar cells, “Radio Zeta” apparently thrives, despite the best efforts of the Mexican government to shut it down. Even the dismantling of over 167 illegal radio antennas last year alone did not make a dent in the organization’s capabilities.
Like a Medusa, the cartel simply stole more equipment and set up an even wider web.
Horror stories of masked gunmen hijacking radio antenna contractors from Nuevo Laredo, a border town and Zeta stronghold, an IBM engineer snatched from the wrong side of the Texas border and tales of others bundled into cars from outside their workplaces have become almost commonplace.
The Mexican government seems at a loss to help.
It’s an incredibly sorry and scary situation. But of course, kidnapping engineers is not exactly a new phenomenon. After all, weren’t the pyramids –one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world-- built by slaves?
If knowledge is power, by kidnapping engineers, the drug cartels have managed to forcibly enhance themselves from simply being a group of underworld thugs into something much, much more dangerous.
Having lived there for 5+ years, naively believing all that was missing was a shot at a practical education.... I just 'went out to get a paper', and walked away from everything...
My 'willing students' we're blood related to the Sinola chief. They we're using my condo on the water as a safe house...
Legalizing would definitely take most of the profit out of these operations and should help stem the violence. this is assuming no corruption in the government. And,instead of playing around with these people, they need to execute the leaders, and not let them live 15 years in prison going through the process.
There's a point. Legalize and regulate drugs, so that everything is under control, and the drug cartels lose their business. But with their resources already, the cartels would easily become like domestic terrorists, would they not? How strong and corruption-free is the government?
I agree, legalize drugs, require perscriptions, and use tax revenue to treat addicts...just like we do with oxycotin. BUT street heroin is now cheaper than oxycotin. So some underground drug traffic will always exist for economic reasons. But it would be a start.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.