Two men were detained for allegedly tweeting rumors of purported shootouts and other drug violence Thursday, and authorities said they planned to file terrorism charges against the pair.
The rumors of attacks by the Zetas drug cartel prompted parents to rush to schools looking for their children in the state's biggest city, also known as Veracruz, and in the neighboring city of Boca del Rio. The panic snarled streets with chaotic traffic.
The tweets warned of attacks on banks and schools, adding the threat: "For each Zeta killed a child will die."
The action echoes what happened in Britain's recent riots, with officials there looking into the role that social networks played in enabling flash mobs and looting to be coordinated.
Attorney General Reynaldo Escobar Perez said the two men were being questioned to determine if more people were behind the messages.
Escobar said that if found guilty, the two men would face three to nine years in prison. He said the men were under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they were detained.
Veracruz state law defines terrorism as "any person using explosives, toxic substances, firearms, fire, flood or any other means to carry out attacks on persons, things or public services, in such a way that creates alarm, fear or terror in the public or any sector of it, so as to disturb the public peace or disparage the authority of the government or pressure it."
Veracruz is one of several states in eastern Mexico where the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels are fighting for control.
The attorney general urged people not to let themselves be panicked by rumors.
"I beg that (citizens) also listen to the government, which is responsible for the tranquility of the people of Veracruz," Escobar said. "We all have to weigh the information and not just trust it."