While nobody has been harmed police in Spain where the forum is based are taking the threats very seriously and have advised the forum owner to suspend operations while their investigations are ongoing.
Detective Juares of the Santiago de Compostela serious crimes division who is heading the investigations issued a statement early Wednesday in response to media enquiries.
In it he clarified that three forum members are under investigation for death threats and also for 'conspiring to commit murder'. Both of these charges are crimes under Spanish law punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Detective Juares refused to provide further details of the investigation at this stage.
However, CTN has learned through sources close to the events that trouble has been brewing within the forum community for quite some time with harsh words exchanged, the community divided and an atmosphere of threat and intimidation, with forum members forced to publicly take sides in the feud or face tirades of abuse and threats.
One forum member agreed to speak to us anonymously. She asked that we give no details which could possibly lead to her being identified. She described to us how a minor disagreement over whether a sleeping bag was necessary on the Camino in summer quickly escalated out of control.
"It was really terrifying. We had built a peaceful, supportive place where all views were respected and tolerated, even the most outrageous and extreme. But some people took it too far, some people took it as permission to say the most vile and disgusting things."
There is a long pause during which loud sobbing is audible over our Skype connection.
"It was horrible, people were saying things like, 'you don't need a sleeping bag, it's really warm at night, there are blankets in the albergues.' Some of us tried to reason with them, telling them that you shouldn't say things like that, that it was just wrong! But they wouldn't listen."
She broke into loud sobs again, anguished at the thought of what happened next.
"People got really angry and they started saying horrible things, 'you're not a real pilgrim, you're a turigrino, get back on the bus', and, oh dear Lord forgive them! 'You should buy yourself a bicycle'".
Between sobs she goes on to describe how several months of a war of words and trading of unrepeatable insults on the forum finally culminated in a small group of members starting a crowd founding campaign to raise money to have the most vocal member of the opposing faction assassinated.
It was shortly after this that the situation came to the attention of the US authorities who contacted their Spanish counterparts to request that the operation of the forum be suspended "for the public good".
The investigation is believed to be focusing on three individuals known to us only by their forum nicknames. 'lovingheart' is a female in her 60s, an American citizen, she lives in a remote community in the north western United States and makes her living as an aroma therapist, a form of alternative medicine which involves smelling people's 'bodily oders'. 'weepingangel' is a female in her 20s, also an American, she lives in the San Francisco area and describes herself on her Facebook pages as a 'Yogi', which we are reliable informed means she does a bit of yoga. The third member of the gang goes by the name 'eternalcompassion', he is an American male from southern California with an established practice as an 'energy healer' and several previouses including armed robbery and indecent exposure.
'lovingheart' describe by another forum member as 'aggressive and argumentative with very strongly held views on all things Camino especially sleeping bags' is believed to be the ringleader.
While details of the investigation are only now emerging CTN has been able to ascertain that several weeks ago 'lovingheart' got in contact with a man who she met on a well-known small ads site where he was advertising his services as a hired gun and assassin. They met several days later in the car park of a fast food restaurant outside of Las Vegas. However all did not go according to plan.
The hired killer who goes by the name of Boh Little takes up the story.
"Yo man I met this woman on-line. She wanted me to do a job for her and it seemed money was no object so I arranged to meet her."
Boh glances around nervously before continuing, at his insistence we have met in a remote location in the desert north of Las Vegas, he is accompanied by a 'posse' of his 'homies', heavily armed men, hardened criminals, they also look extremely nervous.
"She seemed OK at first, a little ole lady, could have been somebody's grandma, she brought me cookies, yeah man, cookies! They was good too!"
A sum of money was handed over and Boh asked for the details of the hit. It was then that things took a sinister turn. Visibly emotional at the memory the rootless hitman continues his story.
"Man, I'm a professional, I take people down, I dust cats off, it's swift and deadly, they never see me comin', they don't know what happened, one minute they're walking their dog, sippin' their coffee, droppin' their kids to school, then next thing they know they're at the pearly gates, goin' 'WTF jus' happen? Why I here? I ain't dead!' But man, this shit was too much! She was askin' for some seriously [EXPLETIVE DELETED]-up shit. Drills and bottles of acid, blow torches. She had it planned in detail. She started describin' it to me."
Boh began to fear for his own life.
"Man, I began to fear for my own life! I though 'this honky's crazy!' Her eyes were coming out of her head, there was, you know man, like foam comin' out of her mouth. I said, Boh Little get to [EXPLETIVE DELETED] out of here!'"
Spotting a passing police car Boh ran for his life.
"She denied it at first man, played the lil ol lady to them, even gave them cookies, yeah my cookies! But she couldn't hold it in for long, I got to tellin' the cops what she said and they was lookin' at me like I was the one who done something wrong then suddenly she went bat shit crazy started tellin' me she was rich and she could have me knocked off, worse than that she started tellin' me all the things she was gonna do to me, crazy things man, I passed out!"
While Boh was unconscious the police finally arrested 'lovingheart'. It was only when they booked her and charged her with threatening behaviour that they realised Boh was telling the truth and that she had been trying to hire an assassin.
"I seen some things man. I dusted more cats than you've had hot burritos but I ain't never seen anything like this, this bee-itch is a [EXPLETIVE DELETED] psycho!"
Contacted for a comment the owner of the forum refused to divulge any further details of what had happened. He did however reveal that he had always feared that one day on-line disagreements would spill over into bloodshed.
"We came pretty close a few times in the past, the great 'pilgrim menu wars' of 2015, we had to delete a lot of members because of that and there were rumours and a fire, but nothing was even proven."
"Then there was 'bloody Wednesday' in 2012 when one pilgrim said that they preferred to stay in hotels because of the smell in the albergues. He had to have police protection. He relocated to Iceland. I probably shouldn't have told you that. But we always managed to keep it under control, prevent it spilling over into open warfare, until now..."
'lovingheart', 'weepingangel' and 'eternalcompassion' are behind bars tonight. Soon they'll face a jury of their peers and the prospect of a long spell in prison. Meanwhile on other Camino forums life goes on, opinions are expressed, tense words exchanged, and always lurking beneath the veneer of civility, just below the surface, a savage beast slumbers.
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