According to a report by Forbes, it appears that Mexican cartels have been using games like GTA Online to recruit ‘drug mules’. The report suggests that the U.S has gathered evidence that states that GTA Online is a recruitment tool for Mexico’s narcotics cartels.
A case from last year involves the Customs and Border Protection officials inspecting a Jeep where they found 60kg of methamphetamine. As to the story behind the narcotics in the car, the driver explained that they had met a person in Grand Theft Auto Online and that they had recruited them into working as a ‘runner’, shipping electronics so they could be sold in Mexico.
The driver claimed that they would be paid as much as $2,000 per trip. This wasn’t the only case where Grand Theft Auto Online was used as a medium to recruit mules.
Cartels are Using GTA Online, Free Fire, and More Games to Recruit Mules
The Forbes report elaborates on other games being used as recruitment tools and it also includes the popular mobile battle royale game Free Fire. Reportedly, three minors in Oaxaca, Mexico had been recruited through Free Fire and offered $200 as cartel lookouts.
Online gaming has taken off in a major way since the mid-2000s and games like Grand Theft Auto Online, Free Fire, Fortnite, and more are populated by players across the age spectrum. While this isn’t the first case of video games being used as a medium to encourage criminal activity, it will be interesting to see if this leads to further legal action by the state against the publishers.
There does seem to be a touch of irony, particularly in the Grand Theft Auto case, as pretty much 80% of the players’ time in GTA Online is spent in the employ of cartels and all kinds of criminals.