For three years it has chronicled Mexico’s drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations – and speculation about its author’s identity.
Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a “front-row seat” to Mexico’s agony over drugs, has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, the horrific violence censored by the mainstream media.
The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.
Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and the Texas Observer – and has revealed that she is, in fact, a young woman.
"I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this," said the blogger, who asked to use pseudonym Lucy to protect her real identity.
"Who am I? I’m in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico."
She said she wanted to show the truth of what was happening to help turn the page. “I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many (foreign) people think otherwise.”
She and her colleague live in daily fear of retribution, either from the cartels or government forces. She revealed that a young man and woman tortured, disembowelled and hung from a bridge in September 2011 – murders which shocked even atrocity-hardened Mexicans – were collaborators on the blog. “They used to send us photographs. That was very hard, very painful.” The threats, she said, have recently become more serious.
Despite those fears, however, Lucy has written a book that gives an inside account of the blog and provides the most gruesome, explicit account yet of the mayhem that the cartel wars have brought to Mexico. Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside Mexico’s Violent Drug War, is now on sale in English and Spanish, and documents a full year of killings from 2010, a pivotal year.
"I did the book to show what was happening," she said. "When I finished, I was able to breathe, because I had worried about being killed before finishing. But the book is there, it’s there on paper, a testament to what we have suffered in Mexico in these years of war."