El Paso police are investigating two mysterious billboards that appeared just off I-10, each with a mannequin hanging from a noose. .
“It’s not an advertisement,” said Mike Mons, regional manager for Lamar Outdoor advertising.
The first vandalized billboard off I-10 had Plata o Plomo in large black letters which translates into silver or lead. It is usually a warning targeting police or government officials in Mexico. The warning: work with a cartel and take a bribe or get a bullet.
The hanging mannequin was dressed in a suit and tie.
“This symbol has historically been used by Mexican drug cartels to threaten or intimidate Mexican citizens, business owners and government officials; however, we have never experienced this in El Paso,” said police in a statement released to media.
“Maybe the problems in Juarez are coming over here,” said Javier Padilla, an El Paso resident.
“Oh, that’s horrible,” said Maria Ramos, his wife looking at a photograph of a stuffed hanging mannequin.
Two of her relatives were murdered across the border in Ciudad Juarez in 2009. Real bodies have been found hanging from overpasses in that Mexican city.
The mannequins hanging from nooses mimic real drug violence in Mexico and the images in El Paso spread quickly on social media.
“It’s a little terrifying. You wish it didn’t happen to your home town,” said Adriana Padilla, 23, an El Paso resident.
During their morning commute motorists spotted a second billboard off I-10 with a hanging mannequin dressed in jeans.