Mexican security officials are warning parents of a new danger in online gambling: kidnappings and the recruitment of cartels. The warnings come after three kidnapped minors were rescued from a cartel safe house earlier this month after being recruited into the cartel while playing the free online BR title Free Fire published by Garena.
The government released a press briefing on the situation on Wednesday, led by Mexican security official Ricardo Mejia Berdeja.
In this briefing, they revealed that in early 2021, a cartel recruiter established a connection with one of the online gambling miners. After months of trusting this miner, the recruiter offered this miner and two of their friends 16,000 pesos per month to inform the cartel of the whereabouts of the police.
The minors were finally kidnapped 1,300 km away by bus, after meeting a woman affiliated with the cartel identified as “Miran N” who paid for transport from Oaxaca to Monterrey. They were rescued from the cartel hideout earlier in October after logging into Free Fire, revealing their location to law enforcement. Mexican authorities also arrested Meriam during the raid.
According to Berdeja, it’s not only Free Fire that is used by cartels to recruit young people into the criminal world, other popular online games could also be used as recruiting tools. He also indicated that there is not just one cartel that uses this strategy, but several cartels are turning to video games for recruiting.