By John P. Sullivan
Mexico’s cartels are increasingly using refined information operations (info ops) to wage their war against each other and the Mexican state, as noted in a recent post “Mexican narcos step up their information war” here at MountainRunner. These info ops include the calculated use of instrumental and symbolic violence to shape the conflict environment. The result: attacks on media outlets, and kidnappings and assassinations of journalists by narco-cartels to obscure operations and silence critics. Editors and journalists turn to self-censorship to protect themselves; others have become virtual mouthpieces for the gangs and cartels, only publishing materials the cartels approve. Cartels are now beginning to issue press releases to control the information space–through censorship and cartel co-option of reportage. Finally, the public, government and even cartels are increasingly using new media (horizontal means of mass self-communication) to influence and understand the raging criminal insurgencies.