Alleged ‘Anonymous’ Computer Hacker Charged with 18 Counts of Cyberstalking
MCALLEN, TX—A federal grand jury has returned a second superseding indictment against Fidel Salinas, 27, of Donna, adding additional attempted computer hacking charges and 18 counts of cyberstalking, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
According to the criminal complaint originally filed in the case, Salinas is allegedly linked to the computer hacking group Anonymous. With the return of the second superseding indictment today, he now faces 44 charges arising from his alleged attempts in 2011-2012 to hack into the computers of Hidalgo County, La Joya Independent School District, and the McAllen The Monitor newspaper, as well as a female victim, whom he allegedly cyberstalked at least 18 times in the days surrounding Christmas 2011.
According to the allegations, between December 23-29, 2011, Salinas had the intent to harass and intimidate a female victim. Allegedly, he repeatedly e-mailed her, attempted to gain unauthorized access to her website, made submissions through a contact form on that site, and tried to open user accounts without her consent.
The indictment lists his alleged attempts to stalk her and hack into her website. According to the indictment, he repeatedly did so late at night and early in the morning, with his stalking attempts or messages sometimes occurring less than one minute apart from each other. He allegedly did so as part of a conspiracy or agreement with at least one other person, according to the charges.
Salinas also remains charged with attempting to hack into and damage computer servers belonging to Hidalgo County, the La Joya School District, and The Monitor over the course of five days in 2011-2012 and causing thousands of dollars in loss as a result. Court documents allege that between the late night and early morning of January 4-5, 2012, Salinas made more than 14,000 hacking attempts to the administration management page of the Hidalgo County website server, resulting in true administrators temporarily not being able to access it. The county allegedly incurred a loss of more than $10,000 in responding to the attack.
He believed the web server contained voter registration information, Social Security numbers, personal identifiers, and human resource and payroll information on county employees, according to the charges.
The superseding indictment charges Salinas with conspiring with others to attempt to hack into and damage these sites and links him to the computer hacking group Anonymous.
Salinas allegedly participated in an online chat room for the Operation Anti-Security faction of Anonymous and attempted to enter the IRC Operations server for Anonymous. According to the charges, after his alleged attempt to hack his way into the Hidalgo County web server, he posted a profanity-laced rant on his Facebook page that ended with a quote used by Anonymous members: “We do not forgive, we do not forget, divide by zero we fall, expect us.”
Salinas faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each of the charges, upon conviction.
The FBI is investigating with the assistance of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully is prosecuting the case.
A complaint or indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.