Drug Cartels Are 'Recruiting Through GTA Online'

Drug Cartels Are 'Recruiting Through GTA Online'
Rockstar Games | Netflix

Written by 

Tom Chapman


26th Jan 2022 13:15

In a case of life imitating art, it appears Mexican drug cartels are using the fictional drug trafficking trade of GTA Online for their real-life drug trafficking trade. While we love shooting up the San Andreas PD to live out our Tony Montana fantasy, most of us don't expect it to have actual repercussions when we turn off our consoles. 

Despite the online GTA favourite being something of a dinosaur in the gaming stakes, GTA Online is still a major pull and part of the reason why GTA V is the most profitable entertainment product of all time. Regular updates have kept things fresh, but it was the introduction of Heists in 2015 that really catapulted things forward.

Drugs have always been part of GTA Online, and while becoming your very own Walter White through Trevor Philips Enterprises is easier than you'd think, remember that 2021's "The Contract" update had Franklin and Lamar burn down several of the Vagos street gang's weed farms. Has this just been training for actual cartels?

How Are Drug Cartels Exploiting GTA Online?

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Rockstar Games

According to Forbes, Mexican police reported an alarming drug crime, with the perpetrator saying they were recruited through GTA Online. The outlet gave the example of when Arizona Customs and Border Protection officials pulled over a Jeep Cherokee that had almost 60kg of methamphetamine and was being driven to Mexico.

The driver was called Alyssa Navarro, who maintained she was brought on board after she met a man called "George" inside GTA Online. Warrants unsealed last week claim Navarro was encouraged by George to converse via Snapchat. Here, she was offered up to $2,000 a trip to be a runner. 

Although Navarro admitted she was apprehensive about smuggling what was described as "electronics" across the border, she still went ahead with the job. Despite pleading not guilty, she faces charges for conspiracy to import and sell methamphetamine - as well as possession - in the ongoing case. 

Are Drug Cartels A Problem In Video Games?

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Rockstar Games

The latest shocking story comes after ABC reported similar drug rings last year. Mexican authorities confirmed three boys aged between 11 and 14 were recruited by the mobile game Free Fire to be cartel lookouts. Elsewhere, members of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel were reaching out to young gamers late at night through GTA Online as a main point of contact.

This is sure to (yet again) bring the case for tighter rules on online gaming to the forefront of the conversation. Countries like China have clamped down on how much time youngsters spend online, and although there are supposed to be protocols in place, it sounds like cartels have been sneaking through them.

The long-running GTA franchise has faced its fair share of controversies over the years, but this could be one of the strangest. Still, it's sure to give Rockstar an idea for a possible Cartels update for GTA Online. You heard it here first. 


Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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