|A screen capture of a billboard from KHOU.|
It appears as though a Mexican drug cartel has incorporated outdoor advertising in its arsenal of intimidation tactics in an attempt to further infiltrate the black market drug trade in the United States. Earlier last week, as motorists in El Paso, Texas began their morning commute, many got to see a series of billboards which had gone up up overnight displaying threatening messages accented with a couple of well-dressed mannequins swinging from a noose.
The first billboard to appear along I-10 was branded with the Spanish phrase “Plata o Plomo,” which translates into “Silver or Lead” – a less than charming way for the drug cartels to advise government and law enforcement officials to accept their bribes or succumb to their murderous rampage.
The second billboard was more of a contemptuous middle finger aimed at those cloaked in moral fiber, who have continued to retaliate against the cartel despite their morbid generosity: “Dying for drugs,” was painted over a DEA advertisement offering a $5 million reward for Mexican drug kingpin and founder of the Guadalajara Cartel, Rafael Caro Quintero.
“This symbol has historically been used by Mexican drug cartels to threaten or intimidate Mexican citizens, business owners and government officials; however, we have never experienced this in El Paso,” said Sergeant Chris Mears with the El Paso Police Department. “The investigation is on-going, but we do not have any information to suggest this was done to target any individual person or business at this time.”
Interestingly, law enforcement officials claim the warnings could get more severe before they get better. Across the border, in Mexico, drug cartels have been known to unleash savage feats of this magnitude by hanging the corpses of their uncompromising victims from overpasses, rather than lynch mannequins dressed in business attire.
There are some who believe the billboard threats are a hoax, with the media pointing fingers at everyone from Canadian movie producers to rabid activists with a twisted flair for lashing out against the War on Drugs. Yet, executives with Lamar Outdoor Advertising, the company that owns the sign adamantly refutes the idea that the vandalism is some sort of slick Hollywood marketing campaign. “It’s not an advertisement,” Mike Mons, regional manager with the sign company told KHOU.
Even drug enforcement experts are leaning towards the billboards being legitimate threats rather than a tasteless prank. “Whoever did this went through a lot of work to get this accomplished,” Phil Jordan, a retired agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration told the Associated Press, adding that the potential threat of beheadings and other devious methods of murder trickling over into El Paso is enough to incite a raucous panic in its residents.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.