Instagram takes down Mexican drug cartel accounts glamorizing their trade

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Instagram is taking down accounts that it believes has links to Mexican drug cartels, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The suspended accounts glamorized cartels and the ill-gotten luxury items of those who engage in the drug trade. There were photos of jewels, exotic animals, Lamborghinis, and piles of money, to name just a few.

There were also loads of images of women holding guns, and cars filled with bullet holes, the newspaper said.

Some accounts that now are suspended were featured in a story in GQ Magazine.

Others have been mentioned in other media stories, the Express-News said, adding that an Instagram spokesperson declined to comment.

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A former DEA official said that flashy photos by cartel members are a relatively new phenomenon.

Older cartel members, while willing to post photos meant to intimidate their targets, avoided posting material that might draw the attention of law enforcement officials, said Mike Vigil, the DEA former chief of international operations, according to the Express-News.

"They're not as cunning," Vigil said of the younger traffickers. "They're not as astute as the older generation who try to keep a low profile. They didn't flaunt the wealth because they knew that, by doing so, they would become high-value targets."

Vigil told the newspaper that it appears that Ivan and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the sons of the Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, helped create the new trend.

Vigil added that law enforcement officials find such photos helpful in their investigations.

Vigil wondered whether some of the accounts were taken down by users themselves after cartel leaders warned younger traffickers to remove material from the Internet.

The newspaper noted that Instagram's terms of use forbid users from posting "violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content."

Instagram also says that it “is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organized crime or hate groups."

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