Mexico drug cartels allegedly recruiting mules on GTA Online

Martin Madrazo is far less savage than a real-world cartel boss (Image via Rockstar Games)
Martin Madrazo is far less savage than a real-world cartel boss (Image via Rockstar Games)

According to officials, drug cartels in Mexico allegedly recruit young people through GTA Online. Cartels have been using online games and in-game messaging to approach gamers. Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Grand Theft Auto 5 are among the titles they employ for recruiting.

GTA gamers are well-acquainted with Mexican cartels in the game world. Martin Madrazo is a cartel boss who provides various missions in Story Mode and Online Mode. However, virtual cartels are nowhere near their real-life counterparts.


GTA Online being used as a recruiting ground for Mexican cartels

The Madrazo Cartel isn't the first cartel to be featured in a GTA game (Image via Rockstar Games)
The Madrazo Cartel isn't the first cartel to be featured in a GTA game (Image via Rockstar Games)

According to The Associated Press, Mexican authorities reported that drug cartels were recruiting minors using popular video games like Grand Theft Auto Online in 2021. There was, however, insufficient evidence to back up this suspicion.

Forbes recently discovered another similar case in the United States last year. US officials appeared to have gathered evidence that Grand Theft Auto Online is, in fact, a recruitment tool for Mexico's drug cartels.

According to the government, Customs and Border Protection investigators in Arizona discovered roughly 60 kilograms of methamphetamine while examining a Jeep Cherokee in November 2021.

As per a search warrant released late last week, when they questioned the driver, Alyssa Navarro, about her tale, she stated she met a man named George while playing Grand Theft Auto Online in January of that year.

The Colombian Cartel was the main group of antagonists in GTA 3 (Images via Rockstar Games)
The Colombian Cartel was the main group of antagonists in GTA 3 (Images via Rockstar Games)

According to investigators, Navarro said they started conversing on Snapchat after getting to know each other in the game and then met in person in Phoenix.

Last October, Mexican authorities in Oaxaca reported that three juveniles had been recruited through the popular smartphone battle royale game Free Fire. The minors were offered roughly $200 each week as cartel lookouts, according to media accounts.

Individuals claiming to be members of different drug cartels, including the Sinaloa Cartel, were also reported reaching out to youngsters late at night on games such as Grand Theft Auto Online.

Cartels have often been featured throughout the series, primarily as antagonists. GTA 3, the first 3D Universe game, featured the Colombian Cartel as a primary antagonist, while Grand Theft Auto 5 featured the Los Santos-based Madrazo Cartel.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar