A man who tried to make a point on drug cartel violence in El Paso is accused of posting a menacing billboard with hanging mannequins that had the city thinking it was under the siege of narco-violence.
El Paso Police arrested Ryan Jean this week at El Paso International Airport after he tried to get back to his hometown Las Vegas. They say he painted drug cartel-style threats and hung two mannequins from El Paso billboards in an effort to show that the drug trade into the U.S. kills people.
According to an arrest affidavit acquired by the AP, three days earlier Jean climbed the posts of two billboards to paint messages that read Plata o Plomo (Money or Bullets), a term that was popularized by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar during his bloody drug reign in the 80s. It’s supposed to mean victims should either be forced to accept bribes from drug cartels to keep quiet or take a bullet.
Callers to 911 expressed panic upon seeing the two hanging mannequins from the billboards.
Jean is out on a $21,800 surety bond: He faces two charges of criminal trespassing and one of criminal mischief.
Police told local TV station KVIA the man has no ties to cartels: “Jean has ‘no connection to Mexican cartels’ and he vandalized the billboards ‘to make a political statement.’”