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Police: Billboard threats meant as demonstration

Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- A Las Vegas man admitted to police that he painted drug cartel-style threats and hung two mannequins from El Paso billboards in an effort to show that people die because of the drug trade into the United States, according to arrest affidavits.

Police arrested Ryan Jean on May 25 at the El Paso International Airport as he tried to board a plane back to Las Vegas. Arrest affidavits say that three days earlier, he climbed the posts of two billboards to paint messages that read "Dying for Drugs" and "Plata o Plomo," which translates to "Silver or Lead" - an expression commonly used by drug cartels to intimidate people to either pay money, such as silver, or be killed with a lead bullet.

He also hung two mannequins from the billboards, something that prompted panicked calls to 911 lines. Mexican drug cartels are known to hang their victims from bridges as a way to convey messages and the signs painted in huge white letters on black background caused many to speculate whether businesses were being extorted in El Paso, a city located across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Jean faces two charges of graffiti, two charges of criminal trespassing and one charge of criminal mischief. He was booked into the El Paso County jail on May 26 and released after posting $21,800 in surety bonds the next day.

The affidavits say investigators found a fingerprint on a hardware store plastic bag used to line the head of one of the mannequins and an FBI search matched it with Jean. Also, Jean's fingerprints were found at the second billboard location.

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silverfawn May 30 2014 at 7:46 AM

It's safer to go after the rogue artist rather than the actual gang members. Obviously, the man struck a nerve. The demonstation was right on the money.

Flag Reply +42 rate up
1 reply
Erbie's silverfawn May 30 2014 at 2:40 PM

Criminals got rights didn't you know that. Innocent people have no rights they haven't did anything to need rights, yet anyway.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ehsh69 May 29 2014 at 11:36 PM

Wow...this guy is hero!

Flag Reply +29 rate up
kk325is May 30 2014 at 7:10 AM

it amazes me to see what law enforcement chooses to spend our money on. Major resources spent to apprehend a graffiti artist. Bravo, the world is a much safer place.

Flag Reply +28 rate up
4 replies
dbear4u2 May 30 2014 at 10:00 AM

We are so lucky we have the FBI cracking this case!! We can now sleep easier that we have one less graffiti artist on the streets. If they could only shut down the illegals and drugs coming over the border. I am sorry, I am being politically incorrect. Undocumented individual and undocumented pharmaceutical.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
supermolar May 30 2014 at 9:45 AM

arrested? The man is 100% correct in his assertions. He should be made police chief

Flag Reply +9 rate up
etoredwrd May 30 2014 at 3:59 AM

El paso is my town, don't get caught. El chapo did

Flag Reply +8 rate up
dandva May 30 2014 at 12:51 AM

wrong city to do it on. El Paso will not put up with any of this crap. Neither from him or the drug cartels. We'll serve them all you can eat plomo.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
3 replies
hensteeth May 30 2014 at 5:15 AM

Brevity being the soul of wit, Plata o plomo is a neat little slogan. It corresponds to the old threat Your money or your life.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
sharpsguy hensteeth May 30 2014 at 11:40 AM

I'm thinking.........., I'm thinking.......

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Kathleen May 30 2014 at 3:55 AM

"Plata," though it literally translates as "silver," colloquially (and commonly) also means money. There was no need to even go there. "Plata o plomo" = "Money or bullets."

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
userkn2586 Kathleen May 30 2014 at 9:02 AM

You're up here now. Learn english. And, be a good citizen.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
Scott userkn2586 May 30 2014 at 11:01 AM


Your statement is invalid. This land is not under Spanish rule anymore. Nor is it under Native American rule. Using your logic, the entire planet should speak ancient Mesopotamian.

Flag +2 rate up
CR May 30 2014 at 9:58 AM

poor guy he is in jail ,and this guys dont know what the the word plata o plomo really means .

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
geonosian713 CR May 30 2014 at 11:33 AM

first off, if you cat even write a sentence that makes sense doesnt help your case any, AND THE ARTIST NEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING !!! GET A CLUE !!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
4 replies
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