El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Hundreds of El Paso motorists were shocked to see a disturbing message on a billboard as they drove along I-10 early Thursday morning.
The billboard read "Plata-O-Plomo," which in Spanish literally translates to 'Silver or Lead" is a Spanish slang that means take a bribe or suffer consequences. It has been commonly associated with the cartel violence in Juarez. The sign also had a mannequin, wearing a full business suit hanging from the billboard.
The billboard appeared overnight near 9400 Gateway East, near Americas exit, facing the westbound lanes. It is directly above EF Building Materials. When called for comment on the billboard, EF Building Materials declined comment.
Mike Mons, the General Manager with Lamar Billboard, the company that owns the sign is adamant that Lamar had nothing to do with the painting of the sign. Mons said that the sign was already painted black, and was being prepared for a new billboard. Crews last checked the sign at 4 pm Wednesday night.
Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Correa
Mons said that the Lamar Billboard in question has lights that would have been on all night, illuminating the billboard, but to his knowledge, no one called to report anything unusual.
El Paso Fire Department assisted with the removal of the mannequin from the billboard by 9:30 a.m. Mons said that Lamar Billboard will immediately paint over the sign as soon as El Paso Police conclude their investigation.
El Paso Police report a 2nd billboard with a hanging mannequin was found alongside I-10 in East Central El Paso. According to a media release, the billboard, along the 5200 block of Gateway East had "Dying for Drugs" painted on it, as well as a hanging mannequin.
EPPD officials went on to say, "The investigation is on-going, but we do not have any information to suggest this was done to target any individual person or business at this time."
Meanwhile, a Canadian film company is denying involvement in the placement of two bizarre billboard messages along El Paso's freeway.
New Era Films confirmed it is currently in the planning stages of a film titled Plata o Plumo. The same phrase, which roughly translates to "silver or lead" or "money or bullets," was found sprawled on a billboard along I-10 Thursday morning, along with a dangling mannequin dressed in a suit.
"It is not something that I put up or I paid for," said New Era CEO Andrea Hidalgo.
When asked whether she or someone from her company orchestrated the displays, Hidalgo said, "no," but added, "This is something that I am completely and totally in support of."
Hidalgo said a marketing campaign with similar artwork, including the image of a hanging suited mannequin, has been planned worldwide ahead of the film's release, scheduled for 2016. Plata o Plomo, a fictional tale of drug cartel violence, is set along the El Paso-Juárez border.
El Paso Police said those responsible for Thursday's billboard displays could face, at a minimum, charges of criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Those charges could be upgraded, according to a Department spokesman.