MEXICO (CNN)—Could a Mexican drug cartel be the next target for a group of hackers known for online attacks against banks and government institutions?
A video purportedly from the international hacker ring Anonymous threatens the Zetas, warning that the names, photographs and addresses of cartel supporters can be published "if necessary."
The man, wearing a suit and tie, claims the notoriously violent drug gang has kidnapped an Anonymous associate in the Mexican state of Veracruz.
"We demand his release," says the man, who uses Mexican slang but speaks Spanish with a Castilian accent.
It's unclear whether Anonymous is behind the October 6 video, which does not mention a victim's name or provide details about the alleged abduction. The hacking group has no clear leader, and no official website.
"One thing that's important to remember is that Anonymous is not an organization. It does not have a hierarchy. Basically it's a collective of people who self-identify," said Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence for the STRATFOR global intelligence firm. "Not everybody agrees and not everybody participates."
Stewart said the video "absolutely" appears authentic.
"It's part of the dynamic we've been watching with Anonymous activities in Mexico," he said, noting that the video was similar to others the group has released and expresses similar sentiments. "It seems like they're speaking up as the voice of those people who are in fear."
In recent months, Anonymous has claimed responsibility for "paperstorm" campaigns, dropping fliers accusing officials in the Mexican state of Veracruz of corruption and connections with cartels.
The video purportedly posted by Anonymous this month says the alleged abduction occurred during a "paperstorm" campaign.
An Anonymous source told CNN that there were discussions about three weeks ago in Anonymous' main online chat portal that suggested that members based in Mexico were going to target the Zetas.
The source said that Anonymous Mexican members claimed in online discussions to have information about politicians in Mexico who were corrupt and working with the Zetas. Anonymous members in Mexico appeared, based on their portal chats, to want to make this information available online, the source said.
On Monday, a Facebook page purportedly connected with a Latin America branch of Anonymous said the attack targeting the Zetas had been put on hold because of security and political concerns.
"We are searching for alternative actions," said the post on The Anonymous Link's page. CNN was unable to independently verity the website's claim.
It's too soon to tell whether Anonymous, which normally uses Internet attacks to disrupt website traffic, can combat the ruthless violence of drug cartels, Stewart said.
"This is like one of those 1950s horror movies, the Werewolf versus Frankenstein. They're incompatible creatures that do warfare in different ways," Stewart said.
Even if members of Anonymous use virtual weapons, he said, they could sustain real-life wounds.
"If they get identified as part of this, they could be beheaded," he said.