Mexican Cartels Recruit Drug Runners Through GTA Online, Reports Show
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: (Alamy/Rockstar Games)
Drug cartels in Mexico are reportedly using the video game Grand Theft Auto to recruit people into working for them.
The game may incorporate working for criminal groups in a virtual world, but the lines between make-believe and reality are being blurred as recruiters are said to be taking to the game to expand their networks in real life.
Mexican police have revealed that the popular video game Grand Theft Auto Online is being utilised by drug cartels to source young adults into becoming mules for their organisation, exemplified by a previously unreported case in Arizona that involved the smuggling of meth.
In November 2021 Alyssa Navarro was stopped by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and found with 60kg of methamphetamine in her Jeep Cherokee, Forbes reports.
When questioned by officials, Navarro said she had met a man while playing Grand Theft Auto Online in January earlier that year.
A search warrant that was unsealed last week has since revealed the player to have gone by the name 'George'.
According to investigators, the pair first began speaking via the game, before moving to social media platform Snapchat, and later meeting person in Phoenix.
Navarro claimed it was over Snapchat that 'George' asked if she would like to be a 'runner' for him, and be paid up to $2,000 per trip to ship electronics that would later be sold in Mexico, as per the government report.
Electronics equipment is sometimes used by cartels to hide drugs while they are smuggled across borders.
Recovered messages from Navarro's phone showed promises of 'a lot of money' and the offer of a truck, which federal investigators think is the same vehicle that Navarro was stopped in.
Navarro then detailed her journey to Mexico, where she claimed she was asked to meet with a man named Alfredo, who gave her the Jeep. The man also reportedly told her which gas stations to use, before instructing her to drop off the vehicle to another individual.
One of the world’s most popular games, Grand Theft Auto Online, was used by a Mexican drug cartel to recruit a "mule" to haul methamphetamine across the border, as indicated by a previously unreported case in Arizona.— LifeFun🍀🎉🇺🇸 (@LnComp) January 25, 2022
CBP officers reported that the drugs were found not in electronics, but concealed in the Jeep's fuel tank.
When apprehended, Navarro reflected that the job offer had been strange but that she had continued with it nevertheless.
Navarro has subsequently been charged with possession of, and conspiracy to import and sell methamphetamine. She pleaded not guilty earlier this month.
Navarro's recruitment via Grand Theft Auto follows reports of three minors having been enlisted as cartel lookouts for crews such as the Sinaloa Cartel via the mobile phone game Free Fire in October 2021.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Rockstar Games
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Topics: News, Drugs, Grand Theft Auto, US News, Gaming