Rumor mill inflames border debate

Aug 17, 2010 By Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News

The ominous reports have zinged around the Internet for weeks, raising fresh fears about border security: Armed members of the notorious Mexican criminal group, the Zetas, seized two ranches near Laredo, Texas.

But officials say the reports are false.

The latest incident, officials say, is one more cautionary tale of how bloggers are trying to influence the agenda over security by fanning fears based on stories that are going viral without first being thoroughly reported or confirmed.

The latest rumor began swirling the weekend of July 24, when editors and others received reports that the Zetas had invaded U.S. territory. The story was based on a law enforcement bulletin stating that officers were looking into a tip that the Zetas had invaded the two ranches.

The bulletin was leaked to freelancer Kimberly Dvorak, a conservative writer who lives in San Diego. On her blog, she describes herself as journalist dedicated to writing "fair free and balanced stories" about local, national and international news stories for more than 15 years. She could not be reached for comment.

The Internet report was picked up by other bloggers, and reporters made inquiries.

Laredo Police Department spokesman Joe Baeza told KGNS-TV in Laredo that the story is "just one of many unconfirmed rumors and threats that we get here on a daily basis."

One police investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "We're swamped with so many rumors that this takes away from us doing our jobs. The fears out there are unreal, and the ability of these bloggers to penetrate society is out of control."

As part of their illegal smuggling operations, criminal groups do control ranches on the Mexican side of the border, having either bought the land or intimidated ranchers into giving them access. This is possible because corruption in Mexico is endemic, and the rule of law is weak.

Many criminals hold dual nationality, and operating on both sides of the border is common. But the idea that they would try the same tactic on the U.S. side is unlikely, authorities say. Seizing land would be too risky because it would expose criminals to U.S. law enforcement.

Explore further: Judge won't free Russian accused of hacking in US

3 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Border Patrol seeks text on suspicious activity

Jun 08, 2010

(AP) -- U.S. Border Patrol agents often use horses to look for smugglers in the forested mountains along the Canadian border, but now will be adding a more modern tool to help them keep watch - text messaging.

Recommended for you

Social network challenges end in tragedy

8 hours ago

Online challenges daring people to set themselves ablaze or douse themselves in ice water are racking up casualties and fueling wonder regarding idiocy in the Internet age.

States debate digital currency

9 hours ago

Now that consumers can use digital currencies like bitcoin to buy rugs from Overstock.com, pay for Peruvian pork sandwiches from a food truck in Washington, D.C., and even make donations to political action committees, states ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3432682
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2010
Oops. This story should have been on Huffington Post, Daily Kos, or perhaps Daily Worker.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2010
'Seizing land would be too risky because it would expose criminals to U.S. law enforcement."
Why should they care? US law enforcement ignores illegal aliens.
scidog
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2010
the first two comments are examples of what the article is about.