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An Interview With Someone Living Through The Drug War In Mexico

March 20, 2014 | 8 Comments » | Topics: Interesting

What state are you in? What measures are you and others taking to protect yourselves?

Tamaulipas. We don’t go out when it’s dark; people (who have them) are selling their expensive cars and getting regular ones; if you must go out at night, leave the inside light on so they see you’re not one of the bad guys; cellphones always on -communication is vital.

Some days it’s pretty normal and there aren’t shootings or dead people and you almost forget about it for a second..

 

What is the feeling towards the USA in regards to the “war” against drugs? Do you think if we relaxed the rules against marijuana that it would reduce the narco violence?

Marijuana is not the biggest product they move, I think is cocaine and heroin. Let’s say for some reason, demand in the US dropped to zero. Nobody does drug anymore. Everybody is happy now. But we would now have cartels with no income, so that would create a void what would be filled with kidnappings, extortions, “protection”, human traffic and the like. So in my opinion, the problem is deeper than the drug trafficking. The problem can only be solved by doing a radical culture change in my country. First remove the corruption (yeah, right), then educate future generations.

 

Who do you blame most for the situation in Mexico? And what, if any, steps do you think could be taken to help the problem?

I blame all the people that do drugs. And I blame the human greed that causes so much corruption here in Mexico. I blame the government for no providing good education to the younger ones, and thus providing them an option other than do drugs and/or work for the cartels.

I’ve thought about steps to help the problem, but I guess there is no easy or short term solution. I guess I should investigate how they did it in Colombia, because we are like they were like 15 years ago and I think they are better now.

I saw La virgen de los sicarios / Our lady of the assassins like 10 years ago, and I never imagined we would ever be like them

 

What would the Mexican people think if the U.S. dropped a few A-Teams of Green Berets into cartel country and waged a guerrilla war against the cartels and made their lives a nightmare for a few months? The reason I ask is that I can actually picture this scenario happening if what is happening in your country spills over into the U.S. even more than it is currently. Do you think that this would end the cartel situation?

Least thing I would like is an Iraq-style occupation in Mexico. I wouldn’t like any other country directly meddling with our affairs. Helping with intelligence and tactics and weapons for our army and marines would be the best non-invasive way to help. Here in Mexico most of the people think army and marines is doing a very good job, not like the local law forces which lately don’t even disguise the fact that they work for the cartels.

And I don’t blame the local cops either, they are in the middle of everything, are underpaid and the cartels threatens them and their families, so they have no option other than help the cartels.

I personally don’t think the violence will ever spill to the US. The cartels are very quiet and discreet on the other side because that’s the best strategy and Law enforcement in the US works.

 

What kind of action would you like America to take against the drug war?

Easy. 2 things: one, stop consuming drugs. Really, that would make it go away faster. And two, stop pretending you don’t have crooked agents too, how do you guys think this business works? The HAVE to go through the border, and trust me, they’re not going to be passing several tons of that crap in a small, hidden compartment of a Volkswagen..

Actually my mom wanted to send a … public letter? to the USA about that.. asking the young to stop consuming drugs one, because it’s bad for them and two, because they’re killing us.

There’s this black humour phrase that just came out in my town.. supposedly the narcs slogan is “We’re not letting drugs kill your children.. we’re killing them for you.” ..something like that

 

Does the Mexican government have a price on certain Cartel members heads? What are the chances of the army becoming corrupt?

There is a program to anonymously call the authorities and you get a reward for the cartel leaders. I would call them if I had the info, from a totally random public phone and disguising my voice, and wouldn’t want the reward (aprox 25k dollars) because the government is so corrupt the cartels would find me.

I think the chances of the army being corrupt are far less that any other government sector. Until now they are the cleanest and most respected by the people institution. They are our last bastion, so they better be.

 

Do you know people involved on any side? How do you not get sucked into it? Eventually the war will make it so commerce stops, you don’t have a job and a cartel offers you a job. 

Drugs have always been a part of my city. We know who’s who, the government know who’s who.. hell, I had neighbours who were narcs, and across the street lived a federal agent. Their kids played together, they were even good neighbours. We all knew. They knew. It’s like the coyote and that big white dog cartoon, at lunch time they’re friends, but as soon as the whistle blows, they go back to their jobs.

And yes, this has also been like this forever, they will offer you guns, money, a car.. but in the end, you’ll get killed. I do know people involved, but no one close.. it’s like I told you, a lot of people are involved and at one point you know the guy or you’ve seen them and stuff..

 

How does all this affects your daily life?

Can’t be out after midnight, there is no curfew but chances of getting robbed are very increased

In my wife’s work women have the earlier job shifts to let them get out earlier and be in less danger. she normally works 8-5, but they have 11-8 shifts.

I have to constantly check the news for cartel roadblocks. They steal cars and buses and just let them lay in the street to interfere with army movement in the city. They do this when they will do something and don’t want the army to arrive.

It also has affected me because I have developed a sixth sense while driving of “shit-is-going-on-ahead” so I take alternative streets sometimes just as a caution.

On christmas we didn’t really know if the sounds where firecrackers or shootings / grenades

I caught a guy stealing from my car, he was half inside my car from the window, I yelled “hey!” and had second thoughts, maybe he was carrying a gun so I just hide behind a wall. The guy ran off but he actually never saw me.

 

Are many people wholly unrelated to the drug war/cartels, consistently kidnapped/shot/etc?

Based on the news, and what happens at the hospital, I guesstimate that for every 10 people who suffer some kind of atrocity, 2 were not related.

 

Im confused as to why normal people like yourself are getting harassed? I was under the assumption that the cartels were violent and caused a lot of collateral damage, but were NOT specifically going after your average Jose. Do you think it is because they’ve caused so much chaos that the petty thugs now see it as a free for all, since the cops have bigger things to worry about?

"They’ve caused so much chaos that the petty thugs now see it as a free for all, since the cops have bigger things to worry about?"

That and the lack of cops, because they have been steadily murdering every cop there is.

 

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you due to a conflict between the two sides?

A shooting in my house. Well thank God they didn’t come inside, but there were soldiers on the roof, a helicopter, narcs outside, gunfight.. dead people..

They’ve followed me in my car, had to call the feds.

Extortion calls. Kidnapping threats. “Revision” at gunpoint of my aunt and uncle [they check you to see if you’re a regular person or a narc.. sometimes they take a wrong guess and just shoot you.]

But I think the worst is the constant fear, 24/7, that something could happen to my family/loved ones.

 

Do you think a social campaign against violence and drugs we have any impact on the situation? It seems like any physical or military challenge results in further violence and causes people to withdraw, but who can the cartels target when there is a social campaign?

Let’s say we have a social campaign against drugs. I’m not sure what a campaign against violence is. Let’s say our campaign is 100% effective and no one uses drugs, here in Mexico. We still have demand from the US and cartels are still in business. So it would be beneficial for the population but wouldn’t do a thing against traffic. What I think would make things better, is more jobs and education, that way people wouldn’t want to work for the cartels, better to have an honest job.

 

Is Mexico safe to visit for middle class white people?

You could come to Mexico City with no problem, I see american tourist all the time. So, yeah it’s pretty safe, normally they don’t target civilians and much less americans, most of all to not draw more attention from the US than needed.

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  • MassIncarceration IstheNewjimc

    Consider this, slightly over 90% of people who uses drugs do so responsibly. Of the less than 10% that do suffer from addiction/dependency, only a small percentage of them commit crimes to fund their addictions. So to incarcerate 100% of those caught, who uses drugs in attempt to control the fewer than 10% that might commit crimes is idiotic at best. I’m mean really whats the likely hood of Lindsey Lohan or Jim Irsay ripping off your car radio. As with alcohol not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, but for those who are, there is available treatment to assist them, no one is arrested unless they break an actual law, this is the approach we should take with all drugs, and stop punishing and demonizing those who uses their drug of choice responsibly. Focus on offering readily available treatment to those dealing with issues of substance abuse and save those billions we are throwing away year after year, and fix these darn potholes, schools, and bridges

    • Destructo6

      You didn’t read the article, did you?
      This is not about US drug users.
      This is about Mexico and the plight of Mexican Citizens in respect to how cartels go about meeting the demand of US drug users.
      The legalization of marijuana is not the panacea that pot heads believe. As stated, the cartels will shift to smuggling other drugs (meth, cocaine, heroine, etc) and items. They are professional criminals: they have no other vocation.

  • Fabricio Valtierra

    Im from México and I can confirm this is 80% dramatized, yeah we have a huge problem with drugs and cartels, and there are some cities that have issues too, but for most of the country you only see that stuff in the news, if you are a normal citizen there is no reason for you to get involved. I live in the center of the country and I can go out at night, return home at 2 am and be safe, and its the same for most of the cities around mine. Yo can go on vacation, you can visit other places, beaches, little villages, seriously no problem, I traveled to México City like twice a month for the past year, and it’s a 5 hour drive, no issues at all. It’s not cool to transform an issue to a really overdramatized problem

    • Wihelm Berrocal

      I am mexican too and I agree with you! my family is from Tamaulipas and I can tell all the readers that it´s complety dramatized

    • tumarelatoto

      Every Mexican I know say the same shit as you, only because you had the luck to not being in the middle of this huge problem, but believe it or not, Mexico is a failed state.
      You have narcos rulling your police, politicians and judges, the percentaje of solved crimes is less than the 10%, and the level of violence is brutal.
      Some regions are arming themselves because the goverment won´t do anything agains the narcos that are ruining their lifes.

      And of course you see natural that people are decapitated and hanged from bridges, but is ok is not happening in from of your house, but they are kidnapping people in Mexico DF, and if you, someday have a problem with these people give yourself dead.
      And a large etc, if you want to close your eyes against the actual situation of your country you are stupid.

  • me

    I am from Mexico. Tamaulipas to be exact and this interview is missing a lot. The army not been corrupt, yeah right they charge 500 to oversee crossing of illegal immigrant. The constant fear is true. I understand that people from big cities dont have the same problem but in the border at least Mexico is a lawless place.

  • One angry mexican

    I live in Mexico too, and this is also true for most mexican states, northern states particularly. Most people who travel to Tamaulipas, and from Tamaulipas to Veracruz usually wait for military convoys to drive along them. There are rumors, for instance, that young boys, usally from 15 to 25 years old, to be recruited by force by the drug cartels, (since they are running low in personnel), they are forced to become drug addicts and hence, make them fight for them against the army. I think mexican armed forces are handling this with great honor and commitment to those young guys.
    So the problem is very real, remember the news, here and almost everywhere, is less than half the truth. I think education is the solution.
    Regarding the situation in which the US bans drug use and entry of the cartels, i believe it will be worse. The product will no longer have a buyer, then their target will be the just us. Then, we would really need the help of other countries armed forces (not cool)