Mexican drug cartels have apparently taken to online games to scout for new recruits, as one woman arrested for drug trafficking claims she was approached by the cartel in the popular ‘Grand Theft Auto Online’ game.
According to a recent report by Forbes, a woman by the name of Alyssa Navarro (not the Disney producer) was arrested by Customs and Border Patrol officials in Arizona last November for carrying 60kg of methamphetamine in the fuel tank of the Jeep Cherokee she was driving.
When questioned about where she got the drugs, Navarro said that earlier in the year she had met a person named George while playing ‘GTA Online’ and, when they decided to meet in person, he offered her a job as a runner, transporting electronic goods between Mexico and the US. Navarro was reportedly provided with a truck to carry out the job, for which George promised to pay her as much as $2,000 per trip. Supposedly, the truck provided was the Cherokee in which Navarro was stopped.
The woman has pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against her. She admitted that she did question what she was doing when making the trip to Mexico, but claimed she was not aware of the drugs. She has been charged with possession of methamphetamine as well as conspiracy to sell.
However, Navarro’s case isn’t a unique one. Mexican drug cartels have been increasingly recruiting members through online games such as ‘GTA Online’ (which ironically lets players run their own cartels) due to the anonymity they provide. According to Mexico’s assistant public safety secretary, Ricardo Mejia, last October three children were reportedly recruited by a cartel in Mexico through the game ‘Free Fire’ and offered $200 a week to act as lookouts. The boys were found before they could board a bus in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.