Is a Mexican shadow organization sabotaging online auctions to keep "Island Music" out of the country?
Over the course of the past several years I've made some great money selling rare reggae 45s and 12"s - that is until I encountered the Mexican Reggae Mafia.
About four years ago, I threw an original copy of Lee "Scratch" Perry's dub remix, Disco Devil up on an online auction. I was so excited about the how much the record was going for (thanks in part to a bidding war at very end of the auction), that I went as far as to tell my harassing creditors that "I had the money, and everything was gonna be juuust fine." But it wasn't. Some asshole from just outside of London bid my auction up, won the auction, and then canceled his account with the auction site and vanished. Fuck.
I was so pissed off and stressed out that reggaemon37 ruined my auction (and my chances to get the damn creditors off my ass) that I made it my mission to find out who this person was, and where he was doing this from. I went on to put up about fifteen more auctions from different accounts for high end roots reggae, early ska, rock steady and dub, and every single auction was bid up and abandoned. I started tracking some of the buyers and found something really interesting: these bidders were using different IP addresses from all over the world. Could this really be sixteen different reggae fans with too much time on their hands or was there something more sinister in the works?
With the help of some computer nerd friends over a few late nights, we came to the conclusion that all of the suspected IP addresses were actually being bounced around the globe - every single one of them originated in northern Mexico. How could this be possible? Was one pathetic record slob orchestrating this entire ordeal to boost the value and demand of reggae music for his own good, or was this something more organized? That's when I received this letter from a member of the online auction community:
As you've probably noticed by now, none of your auctions are being won by real, paying bidders. The rumor is that there is currently an organization in Mexico that is working hard to keep island music in the Caribbean by sabotaging online auctions for rare records from the region. No one really knows who these people are or why exactly they are doing this.
Anyway, I'd gladly bypass them and wire you $550 for the Delroy Wilson 45 if you were interested.
Let me know,
Over the course of the next few weeks I would receive more messages alluding to the same Mexican group and would also come across discussions in record-related forums about this supposed Mexican Reggae Mafia. Whether this five year phenomenon is actually the work of organized criminals in cahoots with the homeland of this incredible music, or if it's just some really bored and bold record dealer slime, I'm not messing with it… something about reggae music always gets me oddly paranoid.
Previously - My Shitty Vacation
If you live in New York, you can go bother Jeff at Black Gold Records in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.