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In Mexico, fear has spread to social networking sites. It follows three high profile murders in which the killers warned the same fate would befall anyone who dared to post information about cartel activities online.

When cartel threats silenced the local media in parts of Mexico, social media filled the gap. Citizens turned to one other or to blogs to learn about the latest gunfights and grenade attacks.

La Nena de Nuevo Laredo was a frequent contributor to a Web site that denounced cartel crimes in that Mexican border city. She also tweeted.

Those postings cost the woman her life, according to a handwritten message left with her decapitated body last Saturday. The victim Elizabeth Macias worked for one of the local newspapers in Nuevo Laredo.

Earlier this month, drug war bloggers were the target of a warning left along with the mutilated bodies of a young man and woman, also in Nuevo Laredo.

Jorge Luis Aguirre is not surprised that attacks on reporters have now spread to citizen journalists. He fled the border city Juarez after a death threat.

Aguirre now publishes his news Web site, La Polaka, from El Paso, where he received political asylum. He warns those posting online to trust no one even fellow bloggers.

It's a warning echoed on the site used by murdered woman. I entered a chat room on the site to ask if the number of postings had declined since her murder. I got one answer, saying no, along with a message: rest in peace.

E-mail akocherga@belo.com

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