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More Details On Drug Cartel's Clandestine Communications Network

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the odd-shaped-fruits-of-the-drug-war dept.

Communications 84

K7DAN writes "The AP reports that Mexico's drug cartels have built their own sophisticated two-way radio communications system using computer-controlled linked and local repeaters on mountain tops, walkie-talkies, mobile transceivers and and base stations. The solar powered system covers vast areas of Mexico that are unserved by cellular phone network and has the advantage of being more difficult to trace." This article adds much more substance about the technology than was included in the report several weeks ago of the seizure of thousands of this network's components; from the description in this article, the earlier headline overstated the case by saying that the network had therefore been "shut down."

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84 comments

When there is financial incentive (2)

Muckluck (759718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38502892)

People get creative. In this case, the sale of the drugs provides the incentive and the network throughout a non-cellular covered area is the resulting creativity. WE (the technically oriented community) should be doing this as well with 802.11 networks. I imagine a day where everywhere you go, you can stay connected for general (non-secure) data transfer / searches, etc.

Re:When there is financial incentive (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38502996)

WE (the technically oriented community) should be doing this as well with 802.11 networks

THEY (the FCC) have rules that make such a thing difficult outside of densely populated areas. Point-to-point wifi links across long distances are doable under the FCC's rules, but low-gain antennas (read: not-highly-directional) can only legally be used to transmit at low power. Even point-to-point links can be difficult if the conditions are bad: vegetation, rain, etc.

If you have an amateur radio license, you can transmit at higher power levels...but then you are subject to Part 97 rules, which forbid conducting (most) business over amateur radio systems. This effectively means that you could not log on to Amazon; even if that were allowed, you would not want to do it, because the rules also forbid encrypting most communications. Part 97 also prevents you from communicating with people who are not licensed, which would make any such network useless to most people. If it were not for such rules, amateur radio operators would have enabled national wireless Internet service long ago.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503270)

Very interesting. I would be willing to bet real money that it was large telecom companies, who were given legal monopoly powers by the government, that created these rules. The sole purpose being to keep out low cost competition to their business.

Re:When there is financial incentive (3, Informative)

pehrs (690959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503722)

Then you would probably lose the cash.

The primary reason for the strong restrictions it to ensure that if you are deploying a long range commercial service of some sort you should use licensed spectrum instead of causing interference in the tiny space of bandwidth reserved for ISM.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508156)

This makes me wonder if there's such a thing as "spectrum pollution". There's been more than a few cases of a state or country running, say, a coal power plant and having the fumes drift over to their neighbor. I wonder how states/countries handle it when someone over a border is hogging up a fat chunk of spectrum?

Re:When there is financial incentive (2)

pehrs (690959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509454)

Yes, there is plenty of spectrum pollution, and there has been an enormous amount of work trying to coordinate the usage of spectrum around the world. A number of international agreements regulate the usage of spectrum, and not following these agreements is a cause for trade sanctions.

If you want a classic example, have a look at all that is written about the missile radar Duga-3, also known as Steel Yard or "Russian Woodpecker". It caused extensive interference during the 1980ths with a wide range of systems.

A more modern example is that the full ISM band is not available in all countries, and usage of some WiFi channels should be restricted depending on which country the equipment is used in.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504222)

For just about every leadership post for all the major government regulatory agencies, just look at where the officials worked before and after their appointment and you can see how the big corporations can influence how our country is run.

Re:When there is financial incentive (2)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505492)

Actually, I have the historical answer to your question. You are more or less correct.

Believe it or not, it was the monopoly of the first "telecom" company, that the rules were put it place to not compete with - the Post Office!

The amateur rules also included prohibitions of discussing religion, politics, or any "controversial" subject matter of any kind, for that you were supposed to write a letter, not sully the airwaves with argument!

Needless to say these rules have been somewhat relaxed in recent days, but ordering a pizza used to be prohibited as doing business on amateur radio. Now it considered "personal business" and it is technically allowed, but is still considered somewhat controversial because it is furthering the commercial interests of the Pizza parlor, so there is still two schools of thought on that one.

Disclaimer - IAAARO.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503296)

This is just not true. There is not nearly enough bandwidth allocated to Amateur's in the 802.11 space to support national broadband. There are only a handful of non-overlapping channels, and as soon as you start running these things at licensed power levels you'll run into all sorts of congestion.

Re:When there is financial incentive (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503458)

There are only a handful of non-overlapping channels, and as soon as you start running these things at licensed power levels you'll run into all sorts of congestion.

If you're using directional links, who cares?

Re:When there is financial incentive (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504870)

If you're using directional links, who cares?

1. Those in the near field of your directional antennas.
2. Those in the near field of your target's antennas.
(#1 and #2 are because of the cardoid field pattern a lot of these antennas have, not to mention the numerous minor lobes).
3. Those who are directly behind your antennas.
4. Those who are directly behind your target's antennas.
(#3 and #4 are because the RF doesn't magically stop once it reaches your intended destination).
5. And those who are in between your antennas.
(#5 for obvious reasons.)

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505982)

You dial down the power so that you get good signal without excessive bleed, you use an antenna with a reflector to minimize the slop, and if you have a clue nobody is in between your antennas (unless you think you'll MIMO off their head.)

Yes, you have to take care to avoid crapping on people, but it's still doable.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503530)

All frequencies over 300 GHz are amateur bands. We've got THZ of bandwidth, so there!

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504896)

All frequencies over 300 GHz are amateur bands. We've got THZ of bandwidth, so there!

Of which currently only a small portion are of practical use.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38505092)

Whoosh?

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505194)

Just clarifying for people who don't know better. You do not realize how often I've heard the amateur radio have unlimited bandwidth argument above X in the past 20 years. Commercial interests have used this argument to justify taking the more usable space away from amateur use.

What you believe is a snarky comment is what I witnessed as a somewhat successful political ploy used by commercial interests.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503342)

Fight the Power! Of course "THEY (the FCC)" are against it - that's the point!

1 Watt (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504624)

WE (the technically oriented community) should be doing this as well with 802.11 networks

THEY (the FCC) have rules that make such a thing difficult outside of densely populated areas. Point-to-point wifi links across long distances are doable under the FCC's rules, but low-gain antennas (read: not-highly-directional) can only legally be used to transmit at low power. Even point-to-point links can be difficult if the conditions are bad: vegetation, rain, etc. If you have an amateur radio license, you can transmit at higher power levels...but then you are subject to Part 97 rules, which forbid conducting (most) business over amateur radio systems. This effectively means that you could not log on to Amazon; even if that were allowed, you would not want to do it, because the rules also forbid encrypting most communications. Part 97 also prevents you from communicating with people who are not licensed, which would make any such network useless to most people. If it were not for such rules, amateur radio operators would have enabled national wireless Internet service long ago.

Actually, the biggest limit is the FCC 1 watt barrier for unlicensed broadcasting at just about any frequency. Can't get too far on 1 watt unless you have an Amateur Radio license and/or a very large antenna.

Re:1 Watt (2)

wganz (113345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506172)

The entry level Technician class ham radio operator license is stupid easy to get now days which gives you 2M and 144cm. Goto www.QRZ.com/ht/ and use their free online practice tests from the bank of FCC questions and you should be able to pass the test in 3 weeks of practice. The test is $15 for a 10 year license. I have talked to Boulder, Birmingham, and Houston from the Dallas area using a simple Yagi antenna on a 10' PVC pipe with 55 watts on 2M.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38504678)

I don't think any of these rules apply to the cartel ;)

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506318)

Actually, you can legally have up to 1 watt (30 dBm) output into an antenna such that the gain doesn't cause your EIRP to exceed 4 watts (36 dBm). If you're output is lower, your gain on your antenna can be higher (i.e. high powered directional).

Now, if you want to operate illegally and say pump 1 watt into a 26 dBm gain directional antenna, you certainly can and will only face an issue if and only if the FCC is called to investigate strange interference issues or if you get real stupid and do something that would cause physical harm to someone. Odds of the FCC being called? Pretty small.

You can get a high output radio and put it into a high gain antenna and achieve impressive distance on P2P links. Try 25+ miles provided the right conditions -- i.e. if the two ends of the link are up high enough in the air. Heck, if one end of your link is high enough in the air (like on a mountain top) you could go 50 or 100 miles provided that the Fresnel zone was clear enough.

Re:When there is financial incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38513700)

Please note that the rules and agency you cited are not a concern when attempting to set up an illegal national communications network.

Specifically; once SOPA abuse kicks into gear, the freenet will go live (and not primarily using 802.11 for the longer shots) and we'll be in the same boat. You can choose to have your communication 100% monitored for things they can prosecute you for; or you can choose to have your communication free and encrypted to your heart's content... but be liable to be arrested for being part of an illegal communications network.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503162)

Why not use the recently opened white space spectrum which has roughly 3 mile range vs the limited range of WiFi? Lower throughput currently, but that can be remedied.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503564)

recently opened white space spectrum which has roughly 3 mile range

Range is a function of a lot more than mere wavelength, if I'm not mistaken (things like transmitting power, antenna height/placement and topography come to mind...).

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38514900)

Because it is earmarked to be sold to someone who will gouge you for the privilege of using it.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515040)

I thought the fact that it was open meant anyone could use it without licensing. Similar to how and why we can use wifi? I would expect the broadcast strength to be limited howevet ad a result.

Re:When there is financial incentive (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516008)

It looked to me to be more like ham radio. "Anyone can use it", if they are licensed.

You're a cock sucker? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38502898)

Aka, Linux user. Got it.

Not terribly hard (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38502910)

I have seen various elements of this system assembled by amateur radio operators; the equipment is not terribly hard to find. Getting all the components together does take a level of organization...which the cartels would have to have, considering the business they are in.

What is really impressive is how long they were able to keep a system of that size secret for so long.

Re:Not terribly hard (3, Funny)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503018)

What is really impressive is how long they were able to keep a system of that size secret for so long.

This is why we finish drinking our coffee before we start posting to /..

Simple To Take Down IF Desired (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503014)

If the mexican authorities really wanted to shut down this network, they simply would have to do a bit of flying in those areas with a SIGINT plane and map out all the transceivers. Then send the GPS coordinates to helicopter teams who will destroy the gear. All the talk about "concealment" is basically rubbish, as these atennas are not concealed at all if you have a directional receiver and a cheap spectrum analyzer in your hands.
I assume this one of these publicity stunts where the authorities "demonstrate how they crack down", when 99% of the illegal business continues without any disruption.
The very fact that these drug cartel even perform "show of force", hang mayors and policemen dead from bridges, set up their own checkpoints and so on demonstrates that the drug lords have already taken over a large portion of the mexican state.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503232)

they simply would have to do a bit of flying in those areas with a SIGINT plane and map out all the transceivers

This may not be as simple as you think. If I were a cartel, I would use directional antennas wherever possible and try to minimize propagation in unwanted directions (like upward where a helicopter might receive it). Something like this, perhaps:

http://www.wlanparts.com/product/MT263004NH/900MHZ-SECTOR-ANTENNA-H-POL-125DBI-120-DEG.html [wlanparts.com]

Take a look at the vertical beamwidth; that is going to be a pretty weak signal from the air, unless you are lucky enough to find a side lobe of some kind (and even then, your helicopter would have to be moving pretty slowly). Now, I do not know what sort of frequencies the cartels were using or what their specific needs were (maybe they needed something with less of an LOS requirement than 900MHz), so I could be wrong about using directional antennas. It may also be the case that the repeaters do not continuously transmit and that the cartels keep their communications to an absolute minimum, and so hunting for the repeaters from the air may be a difficult thing to do.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (2)

BorelHendrake (1496471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504016)

Plus, there is an assumption that these networks are up 24/7. If the are used on an as needed basis, flying a SIGINT plane may not turn up very much...

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510564)

If you giving credence to the American version, the computers attached to the re-trans could easily only allow transmission of signals after an authenticated handshake, that would make them much less likely to be caught transmitting and by using spread spectrum techniques much less noticeable when they are transmitting.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (3, Interesting)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504694)

they simply would have to do a bit of flying in those areas with a SIGINT plane and map out all the transceivers

This may not be as simple as you think. If I were a cartel, I would use directional antennas wherever possible and try to minimize propagation in unwanted directions (like upward where a helicopter might receive it). Something like this, perhaps: http://www.wlanparts.com/product/MT263004NH/900MHZ-SECTOR-ANTENNA-H-POL-125DBI-120-DEG.html [wlanparts.com] Take a look at the vertical beamwidth; that is going to be a pretty weak signal from the air, unless you are lucky enough to find a side lobe of some kind (and even then, your helicopter would have to be moving pretty slowly). Now, I do not know what sort of frequencies the cartels were using or what their specific needs were (maybe they needed something with less of an LOS requirement than 900MHz), so I could be wrong about using directional antennas. It may also be the case that the repeaters do not continuously transmit and that the cartels keep their communications to an absolute minimum, and so hunting for the repeaters from the air may be a difficult thing to do.

Actually, the old WWII huff-duff [wikipedia.org] method would be cheapest and a lot more clandestine way of finding the transceivers. They could easily recruit ordinary citizens (like the British did) to sit at home and report directional and signal strength data from various locations to triangulate the locations of said transceivers. Given that most of these transceivers would be fixed rather than mobile, it would not take long to find and eliminate them.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (2)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505868)

Easily? I don't think you realize how frightened people are of these dirtbags. There are areas where people won't even admit that their son is in the military, you're certainly not going to find volunteers. In many areas these are the main (or only) employers as well, and in Chiapas (different group) anyone collaborating with the central government is in for serious trouble as well.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38507372)

> Given that most of these transceivers would be fixed rather than mobile, it would not take long to find and eliminate them.

Ahem... and....

given that it would not take long to find and eliminate them.... it also wouldn't take long before most of these are mobile... just as drones can be used to find them, these transmitters can be affixed onto drones... or some kids can be paid to drive cars around in shifts.

This is a silly arms race, and the logical extension of the drug war. It just continues like this until we declare it a bust and stop funding these people by inflating the price of their product. Period.

Now they exist, so even doing that wont end them.... and probably just forces the issue towards civil war, but, it seems pretty inevitable at this point. Certainly keeping on Ahab's course is not helping anyone on either side of the border.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506080)

SIGINT aircraft are very good at picking out that sort of thing. Even using a directional will not help a lot.
1. The repeaters need an omni to pick up the handhelds. Frankly a directional pointing right at your gathering points would make them easier to find.
2. the farther you are from the transmitter the farther the bottom of the lobe will be from the horizon. Not to mention that the lobe it's self would spreads in the vertical. So even if they use a directional they will still be detected.
Something like this a MC-12W would have no problems with this network much less something like an EP-3 or RC-136 rivit joint

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38509634)

That's RC-135 Rivet Joint...

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (2)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503274)

I think they'd be better served not destroying these networks, but monitoring them. It wouldn't be that hard to put some transceivers out there on the authorities side and do some rudimentary triangulation, and listen in to their conversations. They could even go a step further and start sending bad information. Even if encrypted, these systems have a weak point in that there have to be a lot of devices to run such an operation. So finding someone with a key(s) shouldn't be too extraordinarily difficult.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505408)

Yes you would have thought that inserting you own messages in to the system would be a good tactic or deliberately give the impression that the Cartels dickers (the spotters) had sold them out.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504532)

Seeing as it's easier, cheaper, and uses less energy & resources to buy a transceiver and set it on a mountaintop than to fly a sigint plane and follow-up helicopter: Congratulations. You've found a way to futily waste taxpayer money. It certainly is going to cost more to rid that stuff than to deploy it. I've got an idea: Maybe they should declare a war on drugs!

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38505014)

Don't forget that one of the biggest cartels in Mexico are former American-trained Mexican SF. Undoubtedly, these men have been trained with very good equipment and know their shit. Besides, I'd say relay stations and transcievers operate on a rotating schedule in terms of operation and geographical location, making them extremely hard to track down.

Re:Simple To Take Down IF Desired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523874)

Now if we could only get the drug cartel guys to start to have a parental, more caring view of the locals, they could be a better government than their actual "government". Years ago there was a company that was scamming young soldiers and airmen by offering them services they weren't really providing. When the AG found out about it, instead of sending all involved to jail, when they realized there was a need for that set of services, and that they could actually be rendered profitably, the AG (or whoever) instead worked with them to help them become the agency they were pretending to be. It's not unheard of. It's how Russia conquered the invading Vikings. It was a kind of co-conquering. The Vikings conquered, and stayed for dinner, married local ladies, and became the progenitors of a more diverse modern Russia. Or something like that. Anyway, this happening shouldn't surprise anyone. Enough profit is available, it is not technologically unfeasible. It would be more surprising if it WEREN'T happening.

Anyone have actual news about this? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503060)

Anyone have actual news about this? The linked article was fluffy-lite. I'm curious if they were using a trunking system, if so, which one, or just classical repeater and remote RX site design. Seems odd they wouldn't mention brand names in the story. Motorola trunking? LTR? Maybe the cartel is the first really successful OpenSky trunking deployment? I've often thought the only way to get OpenSky to Really work successfully would involve pointing automatic rifles at the vendors heads, or perhaps reviving the roman era decimation procedure in full detail, both areas of expertise for the cartels. Maybe no trunking and just a bunch of old linked repeaters?

It sounds from the fluffy article like all commercial gear, like you could buy off ebay for your tow truck company, not .mil FHSS and satellite stuff.

If you want to listen to technology like this without becoming an amateur pharmaceuticals supplier you can buy a modern trunking scanner. Or if you want to work on similar gear as an operator, again, without becoming an amateur pharmaceuticals supplier, you can get your ham radio license.

I'm curious if it was a business hit vs the cartels own stuff. Right now in the USA you can talk to your local trunking radio provider and purchase more or less identical service for your small business. Its possible the only small business purchasing from some trunking provider in .mx was the cartel. Theoretically they've got common carrier protection, but I could see them getting siezed if their main/only customer was criminal. That would suck to go out of business because your main customer was crooks, but I guess thats life in .mx

Re:Anyone have actual news about this? (5, Informative)

tvsjr (242190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503438)

The Washington Examiner has some higher-res images available (download the pic and zoom in) [washingtonexaminer.com]

I'm seeing:
Kenwood TKR-750/850
Kenwood TKR-720/820
Motorola XPR8300
Motorola CM200 pair (presumably using a RICK)
Also an Icom rack-mount something or other (sorry, I don't do Icom)

As far as RF conditioning, I'm seeing:
Simple fiberglass sticks with radials (such as a Comet GP-3)
A couple Stationmasters
UHF yagis
DB-408/420s

The subscribers they show include two Kenwood business-class radios, a Moto HT1250 and MTS2000, and the FRS crap. Antennas appear to be UHF.

However, the duplexers are all sized to be VHF. If they're UHF, they're designed for some seriously high power output.

I'm thinking simple analog repeaters (the XPR is an oddball, but maybe they're just using it in analog mode) and analog links, like many wide-area amateur repeater systems. These systems would be relatively easy to set up, and would provide what they'd want with a minimum of fuss. Delivering traffic to some radios while bypassing others could be accomplished using MDC, FleetSync, etc.

Considering the geographic area, I'd also not be surprised if we're looking at pieces from multiple systems. They may have basic UHF conventional stuff in places, MOTOTRBO in others.

As far as OpenSky - as powerful as they are, I don't think the Zetas have whats necessary to successfully deploy OpenSky (don't tase... err, slaughter my family... bro!) - that technology hasn't been invented yet!

some detail, best post! (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38513800)

thanks for the detail, the most useful comment so far to those interested.

I'm not the sharpest tool in the box but i want to know more about mesh networks. Here i see the hardware, what are the words to search for, for information on getting all this equipment to mesh together? I remember reading about adhoc wifi mesh networks but now reading this renews my interest in that and more basic networks in addition to wanting to know more about this network

Re:some detail, best post! (1)

tvsjr (242190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515402)

For clarity, I'm not seeing a mesh network here. A mesh network is defined as a "swarm" or "cloud" of clients, where each client talks to multiple other clients to transfer data from the client to some endpoint. Typically, these networks are "self healing", where they gain and lose connections to other clients as those clients move in and out of range.

With the gear I'm seeing here, this is a typical linked repeater system. A subscriber (mobile or portable radio) talks to a repeater. His voice is (typically) repeated locally, but also retransmitted down the linked system to be broadcast elsewhere. There are quite a few amateur radio examples out there - check out Armadillo Intertie [armadillo.org] and Cactus Intertie [cactus-intertie.org] . Disclaimer: I'm a member of Armadillo, which is affiliated with Cactus. We use 440MHz UHF repeaters, with backhaul links on 420MHz, 900MHz, microwave, and via the Internet. There are many other linked systems out there - MOTOTRBO systems that link using IP Site Connect, other conventional/analog systems, etc.

If mesh is your thing, google HSMM-MESH. This is a self-healing, fault-tolerant, amateur radio mesh networking system using off the shelf WRT54s (did you know 2.4GHz was actually an amateur radio band?) and some custom firmware to provide link-state routing, etc. Pretty cool stuff.

ha (2)

davetv (897037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503160)

I am not even going to read the article. It is silly. Want to set up, let say a "clandestine" encrypted network .... easy .... use your iphone thingy and get the "clandestine mexican drug cartel encrypted network app".

Be careful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38503294)

Ya know? I'd be REALLY careful about posting info on a public forum like /. info about those drug cartels and using your ham call as your user name.. You may have heard about some bloggers who irritated the cartel and wound up with their head chopped off. I'd hate to read about "American ham radio operater beheaded by cartel".. I'm a ham too but I'm not gonna risk posting non-AC...

Is this some kind of uprising? (5, Interesting)

happyfeet2000 (1208074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38503702)

If you go to the popular (well, poor) neighborhoods in northern Mexico you'll find thousands of young people, joining the cartels. The young people that don't, are idolizing the narcoculture: headache inducing narcocorrido music, big pickup trucks, cowboy attire, violent and arrogant behavior, etc. This has stopped being some clandestine business run by old families specializing in recreational agriculture export activities and has become an attempted takeover of society by the organized crime, at a level that makes Al Capone look like a beginner. In the controlled states most business and middle class independent professionals have to pay protection money to these guys or else. Bank employees provide all the required information. What about the police, army, government? Everybody knows they are in the payroll. It's more like Mexico during the later phase of 1910's revolution where all the young people joined one General or the other to survive while plundering, killing, raping, etc. Today the situation in the affected areas is controlled by terror. Psychological studies of the people doing terrorist activities have shown they're mostly "normal" people adapting to a new economic environment. In other words, young people are being recruited by the organized crime because the current economy is not providing quality jobs. I'll spare you the usual rant about the US-supported neoliberals elites blocking popular movements, but the fact is those elites want to go back to a semifeudal society controlled by the Church and Old Money, and are stopping any development that could empower the general citizens. If you've tried to do business in Mexico you realized how everything seems to be prohibited, or excessively controlled. What happens when you cannot honestly make a living? You do it unhonestly. And the elites have been doing a good job stunting critical education and lowering the level of popular culture through the TV chains like Televisa, so instead of becoming aware of who the real enemy is, young people unleash their frustration against their own.

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38504154)

+1

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (2)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504610)

Since Mexican society is deteriorating (depleted oil resources, no will to fix the political system), people do what they have to do to survive and feed their kids.
It's been stated by a number of people that the narco gangs are the best-organized groups to take over when the system starts to fail. Police is no longer much of a factor and the military is the last bastion. For how long?

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505108)

What happens when you cannot honestly make a living? You do it unhonestly.

FFS... WTF do they teach you fscking yanks these days... the opposite (antonym) of honestly is DISHONESTLY...

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (2)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38507316)

It stoped being "clanestine" some 30 years ago, in México AND in USA

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (1)

lanner (107308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509204)

Why is this not modded up to 5 yet? Someone please help this out.

Re:Is this some kind of uprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38517008)

How is any of this different from other governments?
protection money = taxes
or else = laws+FBI+DHS+... kicking your ass to guantamo if you don't comply
stopped being run by old families and attempted takeover of society by the organized crime = ACTA/SOPA/Goldman Sachs/Bailouts/Federeal Reserve giving 14 TRILLION to banks with 0.01% interest/NeoCons/FOX/Military budget vs. education budget....
Today the situation in the affected areas is controlled by terror. = Exactly the same. Or what do you think FOX is there for? Look up "terror" and how "terrorism" is creation of terror for one's own advantage.
violent behavior = "soldiers are HEROES" (while all they are, is professional mass-murderers) / Military budget vs. education budget
arrogant behavior: ask any foreigner about how Americans or French generally come across. ;)
whatever narcocorrido music is = we have tons of those here too.
idolizing narcoculture = "cigarettes make you a cool cowboy" / "drink alcohol, get women" / have you seen the amount of sugar-based products? / have you seen the caffeine section at thinkgeek? / "smoking weed is cool" (well, the last one is the least bad)

Shame we didn't do that with our drone (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504064)

"They're doing what any sensible military unit would do," said Robert Killebrew, a retired U.S. Army colonel who has studied the Mexican drug cartels for the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. "They're branching out into as many forms of communications as possible."

Re:Shame we didn't do that with our drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38513144)

(CNAS) Center For A New American Security [cnas.org] are globalistsprofiting and pushing these wars and massive treasonous oath breaking destruction of the rule of law - DOMESTIC ENEMIES OF the US Constitution, they want to sign treaties with that fucking UN climate bullshit cover for a WORLD BANK and WORLD ARMY - WAKE THE FUCK UP /. !

You dumb motherfuckers need to spend more time at LANDDESTROYER [blogspot.com] learn who the fuck is both running and fucking up America!

Oh and for the record, I say OPEN 24.000 - 25.000 Mhz fuck that bullshit marine/mobile shit, open it to 11 Meters.

Finally, The FCC is such a piece of fascist shit. It needs to be replaced by PUBLIC VOTE instead of a fucking sold out POTUS CRONY who would happilly have 99% of the PUBLIC SPECTRUM corporate owned.

Now Piss off..

And yet.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504238)

the US govt does nothing. Honestly a few drones targeting these and blowing them up will do a lot to disrupt the cartels comms. I am certain the Mexico Govt will happily let us do that.

Makes me wonder if the "war on drugs" is actually an excuse just to jail random poor people if the cops dont like them.

Re:And yet.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38504476)

the US govt does nothing. Honestly a few drones targeting these and blowing them up will do a lot to disrupt the cartels comms. I am certain the Mexico Govt will happily let us do that.

Makes me wonder if the "war on drugs" is actually an excuse just to jail random poor people if the cops dont like them.

You guessed right. Here is who profits from having well-heeled and violent cartels on our border:

1: Private prisons. You realize how many people are locked up in detention centers? That is a lot of moola going to the private corrections companies... who turn right around and "suggest" judges should have better conviction ratios, or else they will be replaced by those who do come next election. There is a whole industry around locking people up, and everyone profits except the arrestee. 1/3 of people under 23 have seen the inside of a jail here in the US. So, yes, we are tough on crime, I guess...

2: A whole industry about fear of the southern bad guys.

3: People who make money by keeping pot illegal. I don't smoke the stuff, and see that it makes people drooling stupid, but I'd rather have my tax dollars go for welfare for them, than paying more for keeping them locked up for the rest of their life. Here where I live, people get 20+ years for possessing a single joint. At least if they were on the dole, they would be keeping the local economy busy by keeping the local Taco Bells and Pizza Huts going.

4: Eventually, private mercenaries. Once the violence starts spilling over (well, it is pretty bad... you do not dare try a rest stop on I-35 or I-10, else you will eat a shotgun blast to the face when some thug needs to blow away a gringo so he can join his "blood in/blood out" gang), our troops will wind up fighting the Mexican War 2... and this time, the cartels actually have tanks, unmanned drones, and submarines.

Re:And yet.... (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504692)

Indeed. The drug cartels continue to exist because of parties who benefit from having them around. Not the least the compromised parts of Mexico's government, in addition to interests on the US side.

Re:And yet.... (2)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505974)

You forgot the bankers. They make over (probably well over) $150 billion a year on "private banking" (aka money laundering) every year. It's so profitable that Clinton's treasury secretary went to work for CitiCorp's private banking branch and engineered the takeover of Banamex, known as "the drug smuggler's bank of choice", with its very valuable customer list.

Re:And yet.... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504508)

That is assuming that you could locate their repeater stations, which may not be as simple as you think. They could be using directional antennas, or at least antennas with a small vertical beamwidth that would make locating the stations from the air difficult. I am sure that US signals intelligence agencies could find the stations regardless of their configuration, but surely those intelligence resources can be put to better use than tracking down drug cartels (regardless of how violent they may be). There is also the matter of how the cartels could address such strikes -- they might keep several stations on standby, transmitting nothing (and therefore being hard to locate) until some other station goes offline.

Makes me wonder if the "war on drugs" is actually an excuse just to jail random poor people if the cops dont like them.

I would have thought that was obvious regardless of the cartels.

Re:And yet.... (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504676)

I have a feeling the Mexican government has a problem admitting that its own troops can't handle the situation.
And what makes you think that what didn't work in Afghanistan will work in Mexico? You can't stem large scale societal deterioration with military force.

Re:And yet.... (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506012)

You can't stem large scale societal deterioration with military force.

No, but you sure can cause it, which seems to have been the entire purpose of the Iraq exercise.

Re:And yet.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38507468)

You dont do it like Afganastan.

Locate a Cartel headquarter or farm. carpet bomb 1 square mile around it. I'm talking sending in 5, B-52's with a full load of 1000 pound bombs, turn that location into the surface of the moon.

Find another cartel location, repeat. dont ask for the countries permission. Central america and south america. Kill everyone and everything for 4 square miles centered on the farm or cartel location.

Honestly, the pussy footing we did in Iraq and Afganastan is ineffective.

Re:And yet.... (2)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38507896)

A far cheaper solution would be to turn half of Kansas into poppy farms and half of Florida into Coca farms. Subsidize them like corn and sell the FDA-grade drugs in supermarkets and vending machines at subsidized prices. I guarantee that the illegal drug trade in the U.S. will be gone with 5 years, and the international rings will switch to completely legal flights out of the U.S. into staging countries. Fire the goddamn ATF and balance the budget with the taxes on drugs.

But no, carpet bombing with B52s is the way to go, of course. Why not just nuke them?

Re:And yet.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509776)

Because that is easier to sell to the Republicans than legalizing. The republicans cant understand that Legalization will solve a Lot of these problems AND create a huge tax revenue stream as you have to tax it.

They can only see that "drugs are evil" we must kill to protect ourselves from the drugs.

Therefore, the logical answer is to blow the hell out of everything. Nuking is bad as it's too close to the United states and will will suffer fallout. Unless we use Neutron bombs that just kill everyone in a 20 mile radius and the radiation and fallout are minimal. the prevailing winds will take most of it out to the Islands in the Atlantic, solving the cuba problem and all those nasty natives on the prime real estate islands there.

That would bake many republicans smile. it would open up a lot of real estate in Belese!

Difficult to trace? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38504954)

the advantage of being more difficult to trace.

What? Haven't these people heard of doppler radio direction finding?

Sure there is no caller ID, but this is radio not telephone.

Noooooo! (2)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38505314)

Those idiots!
They should never have shut that down. Sure, it might have been used to support drug cartels etc. and so on, but it is one of the most advanced communications systems available.
Go find a cellular provider that runs their entire infrastructure on solar power, and who has their network de-centralized (meshed) such that it's difficult to take down.
There is no mistaking it, the drug cartels have developed a superior communications system, and it was just shut down. I'm going to build my own version of this thing to cover the island I'm currently on.
Make no mistake, the drug cartels have an incredible amount of financial power, and they are only now starting to use it for potentially good development. Take the hi-tech underground tunnels, the hi-tech submarines, and now the advanced solar mesh network. Someone needs to partner with these guys.

Shut it down (1)

DnaK (1306859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506372)

And another will just pop up to replace it. The people in the black market have a very profitable job and they have plenty of tax free money to burn to get it done. While i agree we shouldn't let it just stay open, we need to look at the larger scope of the problem. I'm pretty sure we aren't winning the drug war. I for one do not like my tax dollars being used to lock up drug dealers with no violent crime.

Let's get some Mexican telecom engineers. (1)

pcwhalen (230935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38506976)

The article says "There, the 8-foot-tall (2-meter-tall) dark-green branches of the rockrose bush conceal a radio tower painted to match."

So how come AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. can't hide THEIR damn equipment.

Let's get some Mexican telecom engineers. Apparently they can get the job done....

One stone, a million birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523920)

The way to choke all this shit off is to infiltrate the drug distribution networks, not destroy or stop them. Add extra ingredients to the drugs, call it secret sauce, if you like, something really pretty deadly, and send it on its way. The people using these drugs are breaking the law anyway, and once word gets out that the drugs you so enjoy are laced with deadly poison that has users dropping dead left and right... maybe then use will drop off. At the very least, it will convince a lot of people to turn to home-grown drugs, which eliminates demand (one way or the other) for imports from Mexico, etc., and without that incentive, all this BS would go away. Shame no one in the DEA has the balls to do something like that, which is strange because how much different is that from "fast and furious"? Oh wait, I know... the difference is WHERE the people would start turning up dead as a result of their actions. Oh for SHAME.

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