Looting in Mexico City suburbs coordinated on social media

MEXICO CITY (AP) - At least eight young people used social media to organize the collective looting of stores in several northern suburbs of Mexico City, leading to clashes with police and more than 100 arrests, authorities said Friday.

Maribel Cervantes, head of public security for Mexico State, which surrounds the capital, said officials identified two Facebook profiles with more than 3,500 followers that were used to organize and coordinate the looting, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday nights in the districts of Zumpango, Ecatepec, Tecamac and Tlalnepantla.

"Once deactivated ... we identified the creation of WhatsApp groups that were used to call people out" using different hashtags, Cervantes said.

Eight young people between the ages of 20 and 30 were identified as the administrators of the messaging groups, the official said. Authorities did not say if they had been arrested.

Cervantes said participants tried to loot about 30 stores and succeeded in 17 of them. The looting led to the deployment of 2,000 state and local police supported by the army and federal police. As of Friday, 113 people had been detained, including 30 teenagers.

Authorities did not provide a motive for the organized looting. In the past year, similar acts were triggered by protests over the rise in gas prices.