Police in Mexico City are investigating online classified ads posted by people selling their services as assassins for as little as £3,000.
Between listings offering gas fitters and modelling agencies, a post reads: “Gun for Hire – $6,000. Professional. International. Discretion guaranteed”.
Another reads: “former soldier with 10 years experience in the private sector, very professional and discreet”.
A hitman called Jorge leads with: “Problems with someone? Would you like a solution? Write to me. 100% professional – we do not charge an advance”.
As drug cartels and organised crime gangs step up their tit-for-tat murders by leaving bodies and severed heads in Mexico City streets, police are taking these ads seriously.
At least 1,700 people have been killed this year in the battle between warring cartels and the raids by soldiers and federal police sent out to stop them.
Paid assassins are often used by gangs due to their relative anonymity and high-calibre weaponry.
Demand for such services has stretched further into Central and South America.
A Mexican cartel aired radio ads in Guatemala this year looking for former soldiers to work as smugglers.
Another hung banners in towns near the American border advertising “lucrative opportunities”.
Fryingpanfire contacted a man based in Chile who offered a professional hitman by assignment, promising to “work in arranging scenarios” or to “fix it like a robbery, accident, etc”.
An ineffective justice system means very few killers get caught.
Police spokesman Miguel Amelio Gomez said the problem of hitmen was real and was one they were “facing all over the country – people offer their services to kill someone for a price”.
He has not ruled out the idea that the ads were faked, but is “investigating all possibilities”.
Mexican police are not immune from threats – in May this year Edgar Millan, the acting director of Mexico’s Federal Preventive Police, was killed by an assassin’s bullet.
It is believed that the so-called Sinaloa Cartel with interests in transporting cocaine and other illicit drugs to the United States was behind the attack.
This article was originally published on Sky News Online on 14 July 2008. All rights reserved.