Smile! You're on narco-camera.
Mexican authorities last week discovered a network of 39 narco-surveillance cameras that were videotaping 52 vantage points in the northern border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The cameras, set up on electrical posts around Reynosa, were supposedly used by the Gulf Cartel to keep an eye on the city, especially the comings and goings of police and military.
It's not clear how long the cameras, some allegedly controlled remotely via Wi-Fi and equipped with a modem, video data encoder and memory card, had been recording before getting discovered. Authorities have not explained how the cameras managed to go undetected.
The Gulf Cartel is a powerful drug trafficking organization in northeastern Mexico that later spawned Los Zetas. The cartels played a major role in transforming the state of Tamaulipas into a key drug smuggling route to the United States.
According to state authorities, many of the narco cameras pointed at strategic military outposts and police headquarters.
Approximately 18 cameras were deactivated by cartel watchmen before authorities were able to remove them, indicating someone had tipped off the organization.
The "narco big brother" discovery came days before President Enrique Peña Nieto visited the city and after a series of bloody shootouts between state authorities and local criminal organizations had the citizens of Reynosa on edge.
Surveillance cameras are just one more way cartels are incorporating new technologies — including black-hat hackers and social media offensives — into their drug trafficking business.