El Blog del Narco
The author of a pioneering blog about Mexico's drug war has said that she has fled the country and that her blog partner has gone missing.
The young woman, using her pseudonym Lucy, said her colleague phoned her last week to say a single word – "run" – and then vanished, prompting her to flee to the United States and then Spain.
"I'm trying to think positively but I'm scared something terrible has happened. 'Run' was our codeword for when something was very wrong. We had never used it before."
Blog del Narco is an internet sensation which has chronicled Mexico's drug war with graphic images and shocking stories few others dare show. It has been a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and millions of ordinary people.
The anonymous author was a mystery until last month when she revealed to the Guardian and Texas Observer she was a woman, not a man as previously assumed, and that with her colleague she had written a book, Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside Mexico's Violent Drug War.Dying for the Truth: Mexico drug wars Public domain
The revelation caused a stir but the duo continued as normal, Lucy, a journalist, writing and editing the site and her partner, a male friend aged 27 who lived in a different city in northern Mexico, managing the technical side.
On 5 May he phoned her. "He just said 'run'. Then hung up. It was our code word for extreme situations, our last resort, but until then we had never used it. I called him back but there was no answer. I emailed him, tried Skype and WhatsApp, but nothing. Nothing."
Lucy, speaking to the Guardian via Skype this week, cried several times. She said she was speaking from an undisclosed location in Spain and that she was alone, lonely and frightened.
Her account could not be independently verified but a US-based intermediary who is also in contact with Lucy backed up her story. Adam Parfrey, head of the Washington-based publisher Feral House, which published Dying for the Truth, said he was not in direct contact with the authors but had heard a rumour one had disappeared. "I hope it's not true."
Lucy said that after receiving the phone call she immediately moved to another part of her home city, in northern Mexico, and prepared to flee. She sold some of her great-grandmother's jewellery, took a bus to the border and legally entered the US on foot. "I had all the correct papers." Hours later she was on a flight to Spain, she said. "It's further away. It feels safer."
She has not posted on the blog since 3 May, she said, but technical issues related to previous cyber-attacks meant it appeared on the site on 8 May. She has no immediate plans to resume blogging.
She is in a boarding house and has enough money to last a few months, she said, but has no friends or contacts in Spain.
Her biggest fear is she will see her colleague appear on a video of the type that frequently appeared on their blog: battered, interrogated, gazing into the camera, knowing a terrible fate awaits. Some victims have been tortured and beheaded on camera. "I don't want to think the worst but I can't help it."