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News video games 24 January 2022, 19:44

author: Jacob Blazewicz

Cartels Recruit Smugglers in GTA Online and Other Games

The popularity of games like Grand Theft Auto Online and Call of Duty is attracting more than just cheaters. Players in these titles have apparently found themselves targeted by cartels looking for „couriers”.

  1. Forbes magazine reports that the cartels used online games (Grand Theft Auto Online, the Call of Duty series etc.) to recruit "drug mules", among others;
  2. The article cites the case of an Arizona resident who was caught smuggling 60 pounds of methamphetamine.

One of the most important rules of Internet use is that "you never know who is on the other side". Apparently, Mexican drug cartels can be added to the list of suspicious online strangers. Forbes magazine reports that in online games like Grand Theft Auto Online it is possible to find people recruiting potential drug "smugglers".

As we read, first reports about this practice appeared last year, albeit without strong evidence. Now the editors of Forbes have reached information about a specific case. In November, border guards stopped a Jeep Cherokee in the state of Arizona, carrying 60 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Alyssa Navaro, who was driving the car, testified that in early 2021, she made the acquaintance of a player telling him to call himself "George" (at least that's according to the letter of appointment cited by Forbes last week). After some time, they started talking on Snapchat and finally met in person in Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. George offered Alyssa the opportunity to earn up to $2,000 for delivering electronics from Mexico in a vehicle he provided.

Such a generous offer should have aroused suspicion, especially when, after being returned to a contact in Mexico, Alyssa was instructed to refuel only at certain stations and then passed on to another "handler." The girl testified that she had doubts already on the way to Mexico, but - apparently - she took the assignment anyway.

This was not an isolated incident. Back in October, media outlets reported on a case of 11-14 year old players being recruited via free-to-play battle royale game Garena Free Fire as cartel lookouts in northern Mexico (via ABC News). The boys were stopped from boarding a bus, but there have been more similar situations, claims Mexican police. The recruits were said to have made contacts in the aforementioned online mode of GTA V, but also in games from the Call of Duty and Gears series, among other titles.

Jacob Blazewicz

Jacob Blazewicz

Graduated with a master's degree in Polish Studies from the University of Warsaw with a thesis dedicated to this very subject. Started his adventure with in 2015, writing in the Newsroom and later also in the film and technology sections (also contributed to the Encyclopedia). Interested in video games (and not only video games) for years. He began with platform games and, to this day, remains a big fan of them (including Metroidvania). Also shows interest in card games (including paper), fighting games, soulslikes, and basically everything about games as such. Marvels at pixelated characters from games dating back to the time of the Game Boy (if not older).


Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto Online