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Three rescued after it emerges Mexican cartels use Free Fire to recruit kids

In what is being dubbed the Free Fire case, Mexican authorities have claimed three minors were kidnapped after being contacted via the battle royale.
Three rescued after it emerges Mexican cartels use Free Fire to recruit kids

Three minors were rescued from drug traffickers who had kidnapped them after first making contact through Free Fire, Garena's free-to-play battle royale.

The startling news comes via the Secretariat of Security and Civilian Protection of Mexico (SSPC) who confirmed they rescued the minors on 9th October.

On 20th October, Ricardo Mejía Berdeja of the SSPC's revealed that the kidnappers convinced three minors to travel almost 1,300 km from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, to Monterrey, one of the country's major cities, with promises that they could make $16,000 MXN a month, roughly $792 US. 

modus operandi
A detailed explanation of the modus operandi utilised by the kidnappers. (Picture: Milenio)

Mejía stated that kidnappers initially made contact with one of the minors via Free Fire back in August, earning his trust and which led to both exchanging phone numbers.

Following weeks of establishing what seemed to be a harmless friendship via WhatsApp and Facebook, the abductor revealed his true intentions and offered the minor a job that involved informing members of Mexican's underworld the whereabouts of armed forces and police.

Once the minor agreed to work for them, he convinced two school friends to join. The trio met a female identified as "Mirian N" on 4th October, who provided the kids with a yellow envelope filled with cash, which would cover transportation from Oaxaca to Mexico City and eventually Monterrey.

free fire
Free Fire is one of the most popular games in Latin America. (Picture: Garena)

On 8th October, the minors agreed to start their journey the next day, meeting Miriam to purchase their bus tickets whilst utilising fake IDs. 

Relocated to a safe house while waiting to embark on their tumultuous and dangerous trek, the kids decided to hop on Free Fire for a few matches, a decision that would prove life-saving as Mejía stated that local law enforcement managed to track their location and detain Miriam in the process.

Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto used as recruiting tools by Mexican cartels

caso free fire
From battle royale to third-person shooters, the Mexican government warns about the dangers of unsupervised gaming. (Picture: Federal Government of Mexico)

Mejía also claimed that several other games are used by organised crime as a "recruitment network" to convince impressionable young gamers to join their ranks.

"They don't directly use words such as narco or cartel but use acronyms of famous criminal organisations instead," he states, mentioning that games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Gears of War are also places in which unsupervised minors can run into these malicious individuals due to their high "violence quota."


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Featured image courtesy of Associated Press / Garena.