Friday, January 30, 2009

Mexican Drug War

I work in Juárez Mexico, one of the most violent cities on earth. Directly across from J-town as it’s affectionately known is El Paso TX, one of the most economically depressed cities in the United States. This combination makes it one of the most important smuggling corridors in the world.

As you might imagine with anything valuable, it’s worth fighting for. And fight they do. Juárez is currently the location of an all out pitched battle for control of the right to load dope into every imaginable vehicle and attempt to pass it into the US.

Every day for the past year 1-10 people have been murdered in the streets or tortured and then dumped in the streets. The official toll is around 1,500 for 2008 while the news media toll is around 1,650. Considering the Mexican government's history of covering stuff up I’ll go with the news.

Inspired by You Tube videos of Iraqi insurgents, the victims are often decapitated and placed in public places with notes stapled to the bodies threatening their rivals. More common is “acribillaron por cuerno de chiva” or “sprayed (with bullets) from the ram’s horn", slang for the curved clip of an AK-47.

A roving news team using SUVs and motorcycles has a daily rundown of the days killings on the 10:00 news. We call it “watching the muertos”, or watching the dead. But you really don’t need to watch the news, just drive around. Here are some photos I took on the way home from work:

This guy got wasted on a major street in front of a school and a crowded grocery store. He’s still in the car as I got there before the cops. 5 minutes earlier and I might not be writing this today.

At the same time in a separate unrelated incident about a block away a group of men in this white SUV were trying to escape their fate. Crashing into the pickup infront of them, they ran through the red light before getting gunned down. “Perito” is Spanish for “Coroner”. This truck is a typical ride of the local narcos. You learn to watch your rear view mirror for these trucks and stay out of the way. Missing liscence plates are also common as most of the trucks are stolen from El Paso.

Instead of a truck, this guy had a nice new BMW 540. He didn’t get long to enjoy it. He was shot down exiting a pool hall. I got there along with Channel 44 and stood in the big crowd that these events attract. The “sicarios” or “hit men” are never captured when this happens. According to Channel 44, they shot this guy, calmly took his keys and took “something” out of the trunk and left.

Now then, does your commute really suck that bad?

No comments: