#NarcoLifestyle: The Instagram Underworld of Mexican Cartels

A quick click through hashtags such as:#narcos, #narcostyle, #chinoantrax, and #lujosdelnarco will bring you right to the underbelly of mexican cartels on Instagram.

Narcotic-pushing empires built by the likes of El Chapo, head of the Sinaloa Cartel who is currently in prison after being recaptured, escaping a second time. El Chapo (A.K.A Joaquín Guzmán Loera) was named between 2009 to 2011, by Forbes as one of the most powerful people in the world. As head of the most powerful and violent cartel in Mexico, El Chapo made as much as $3 billion in annual profits. These established drug lords have brought about a younger generation borne into the wealthy and dangerous lifestyles of their parents or predecessors. And they are not as private.

Sons of El Chapo,  Ivan, Alfredo and Joaquin Guzman are thought to have started the trend of using Instagram and Twitter not only to brag about their lavish and violent lifestyles, but also in the interests of recruitment and to exert status. The more followers, the more power.


Claudia Ochoa Felix, attracted public interest on Instagram as the ‘Kim Kardashian of organized crime’- famous for her pink AK-47 (above), she  was thought to be the head of Los Ántrax in 2014.


Los Ántrax is the militarized wing of the Sinaloa Cartel.  The Daily Mail UK reports, “Antrax engages in combat with the Mexican military, commits high-level assassinations and fights the cartel’s territory wars.” It would make sense that they have their own Instagram hashtag then. They are notorious in their own right. 

But there are also circumstances where these social media sites have been used for more sinister purposes such as to taunt Mexican authorities, or to post offing videos – used to intimidate those who dare to report or interfere with cartel affairs, as well as to send messages to other cartels.

These accounts capture your interest as they give us a peek into the previously exclusive world of drug-trafficking. But they are also harrowing as they give an idea of a thriving underworld, despite the 10 year drug war (beginning in 2006) Mexico has endured to fight the booming illegal industry.

In this 10 year lapse since the Mexican government took an active role in fighting drug cartels to end violence, more than 100 000 people have died in the drug war (and over 27 000 have gone missing). But with photos of police cars with bullet holes captioned ‘Ha ha ha, nothing to see here’, it paints a very sad picture for Mexico, where 40% of the population live below the poverty line and more than 10% in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 per day). These people have no other option sometimes but to become embroiled in these circles, and many will ultimately face the short lives that accompany the Narco lifestyle.

Says Mexican police commander Umberto Mata, who works in Juarez City on the Texas border, ‘Kids come up here to the border thinking they’ll be like the narcos they see on TV.. But all that happens is they end up dead. The rich narcos you see on Twitter are the spoiled kids of narco bosses, no one is forcing them to commit kidnappings, extortions or sell drugs on the street.’

Images via Instagram and Twitter.