Oct. 25, 2016
10 Virtually Illicit: The Use of Social Media in a Hyper-Connected World
With her customized pink AK-47 cocked on her shiny latex-covered hip, Claudia Ochoa Felix, the woman reported to be the new matriarch of “Los Antrax,” the killing squad of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug trafficking cartel, personifies the spirit of narco-narcissism. Ochoa Felix’ moniker as the “Kim Kardashian of the crime world” refers not only to her scarlet pucker, contoured cheeks, and pert glutes, but also to her obsessive use of social media to flaunt the wealth and status that accompany her fearsome reputation. The 20-something mother-of-three’s Instagram and Twitter accounts are replete with images of luxury cars, designer clothes, beautiful people, and fabulous parties. One now infamous image shows her toddler lying on a bed blanketed in dollar bills. Despite her success, she is far from alone in successfully cultivating such an image on social media. From the street gangs in the United States to the mafia in Palermo, social media is becoming increasingly ostentatious and ubiquitous. Where organized crime was once something that previously lived furtively in the shadows, with secrecy being a premium commodity, in today’s hyper-connected world, social media has become the showcase of organized criminal groups to demonstrate their power and profits with impunity.