Things That Matter

Former Drug Cartel Members Share Why The Drug War Will Continue To Fail And What Is Needed Instead

The strategy that the Mexican government has employed during the past 13 years, since then incumbent president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa basically declared national war against the global trafficking organizations operating out of Mexico, has been nothing short of catastrophic. More than 200,000 people have died and at least 60,000 have disappeared. Whole communities have fled their lands, other crimes such as sex trafficking and illegal organ harvesting, as well as kidnapping and financial fraud, have increased and morale is low in many regions of the country. 

We often get the government’s perspective in the media. Reports also focus on the effect that cartel violence has had in the individual and collective wellbeing of victims. However, save a few notable examples such as Everardo Gonzalez’ poignant documentary “La libertad del diablo”, the view of current or former sicarios is rarely shared. The Spanish newspaper El Pais has just published the doctoral findings of Karina Garcia Reyes, a woman from Northern Mexico whose city has lived dantesque levels of violence and who did a postgraduate degree overseas to find out what was the rationale behind cartel members’ actions and lifestyle. She is currently a Professor in Bristol, United Kingdom. 

Garcia Reyes interviewed 33 former cartel members and wrote their biographies.

Credit: El Pais

Garcia Reyes interviewed former cartel members in both sides of the border. Some belonges to the biggest criminal organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel, the Zetas Cartel or the Gulf Cartel, although the majority used to belong to independent cartels. This speaks of the probable fear that former cartel members might experience and their reluctance to speak out. 

This is the first academic study that includes interviews with real narcos, in which they talked about their early years.

The study is extremely relevant and innovative, as Garcia Reyes did not make suppositions on what these men think or feel: she actually got them talking about drugs, alcohol, street violence and their entry into the criminal underworld. Chief among the findings is how narcos perceive themselves: there is a lack of self esteem that can lead to a life of violence and illicit livelihood. 

The study revealed that narcos do not see themselves as “victims” and that the “no other option” narrative is misleading.

One of the prevalent reasons given to the rise of cartel violence is the lack of opportunities and socioeconomic vulnerability. Media narratives indicate that young men are lured into the narco world because that is their only chance to make a living. The subjects interviewed by Garcia Reyes claim that, contrary to popular belief, they are not victims and they were making ends meet in the informal economy. They just wanted “more”. They wanted tu pursue a lifestyle that an everyday job would not give them. 

They feel they are “disposable” and that their life has little value, and that death is “a relief” sometimes.

Credit: J Bustamante / Reuters

According to the researcher, former cartel members don’t see themselves as monsters and reject the media depiction of them as bloodthirsty bad hombres. Instead, they see themselves as free agents whose life is dispensable.Sometimes, they said, death is a relief. 

Poverty is a constant trigger for cartel activity and a “survival of the fittest” mentality.

Through her 33 respondents, the researcher found that there is an Us vs. Them mentality among former cartel members when it comes to social class. As one of the participants argued: “I knew that I would live and die in poverty and I asked God ‘Why does it have to be me?’’. Poverty is seen as something that cannot be avoided and that determines your fate for life. A respondent called Rigoleto said: “I knew I was all alone, if I wanted something I would need to get it myself”. 

Gangs are seen as the only way to survive the streets and that is why the government is losing the war.

Credit: Alfredo Estrada / Getty

According to the men interviewed, there is a sense of inevitability when it comes to being a male in poverty-stricken Mexico. You will become an addict and you will be a victim of street violence. That is unless you become a gang member yourself. Gangs are seen as the only way to survive in a “kill or be killed” type of environment. 

Former cartel members believe they will die tragically so they want to live each day as if it was the last.

An overdose or a bullet, plain and simple. That is how former cartel members thought their lives would end and there was no other alternative. Because they have this pessimistic view of life, many cartel members want to live a life of excess and luxury. 

‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel

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‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Picks Up Where We Left Off With Félix Gallardo And The Guadalajara Cartel

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo is known as the padrino of Mexican narcotrafficking. As drug authorities were operating farther and tougher throughout Florida, Colombian drug cartels began to use Mexico to move their drugs. Félix Gallardo capitalized on this change in the drug trade and created a drug trafficking empire in Mexico.

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo was the leader of the Guadalajara Cartel.

The Guadalajara Cartel was established in the 1980s and was one of the first cartels in Mexico to operate with the Colombian cartels. The Guadalajara Cartel flourished in the cocaine trade, though their crimes extend to murder, money laundering, torture, arms trading, and extortion.

One thing that set the Guadalajara Cartel apart was that the organization took a 50 percent cut of cocaine the smuggled into Mexico from Colombia. The cartel knew the value of the cocaine and they used the drugs they received from Colombia to beef up their criminal empire in Mexico.

At its peak, the Guadalajara Cartel was operating in numerous territories across the country. The cartel was operating in Tijuana, Juarez, Sinaloa, Jalisco, and Sonora.

“Narcos: Mexico” Season 2 is picking up where the first season left off. The

The Guadalajara Cartel was a force to be reckoned with in the 1980s. The cartel’s power was short-lived, however. The crime organization was established in 1980 and eventually fell apart by 1989.

Yet, the first major downfall for the cartel was the murder of undercover DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The agent, who managed to infiltrate deep into the cartel, led an operation in 1984 to bust a 2,500-acre marijuana plantation in Chihuahua, Mexico called “Rancho Búfalo.”

The following year, Félix Gallardo ordered the kidnapping of Camarena and tortured the agent for 30 hours before he was killed. The following year, two of Félix Gallardo’s closet companions were arrested for the murder.

After keeping a low profile for years, Félix Gallardo moved with his family to Guadalajara City in 1987. He lived in peace until he was arrested by authorities on April 8, 1989, and charged with the murder and several other crimes connected to the cartel by both the Mexican and U.S. governments.

There is even a narcocorrido believed to be about the drug lord.

Los Tigres Del Norte released an album called “Jefe de Jefes” and the titular song is believed to be inspired by Félix Gallardo. The album, released in 1997, became the group’s first No. 1 album on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart.

Fans are very excited to see the next season of “Narcos: Mexico

Credit: @MUNECA333 / Twitter

The “Narcos” series has captured the fascination of Netflix’s audience. At first, the show was in Colombia following the rise and fall of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. “Narcos: Mexico” is the continuation of that story with the narcotrafficking in Mexico.

Make sure you check out Netflix on Feb. 13 for the new series of “Narcos: Mexico.”

Credit: @SabrynaStevens / Twitter

Who else is excited to finally see this new season?

You can watch the full trailer for the show below!

READ: The Trailer For ‘Narcos: Mexico’ Season 2 Is Here And It Is Everything Fans Were Hoping For

Ten Indigenous Musicians Were Ambushed And Shot Dead In Guerrero, Mexico—Authorities Believe The Perpetrators Were Part Of A Drug Cartel

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Ten Indigenous Musicians Were Ambushed And Shot Dead In Guerrero, Mexico—Authorities Believe The Perpetrators Were Part Of A Drug Cartel

Tony Rivera / Getty

Ten indigenous musicians were shot dead and burned in an ambush in western Mexico.

The horrible crime is believed to have been carried out by a drug cartel, that has been terrorizing indigenous groups in Guerrero Mexico for nearly 20 years.

The members of the Nahua indigenous group were returning from a party when they were attacked in the town of Chilapa in Guerrero state.

The victims, part of the Sensación Musical group, were returning to their Alcozacán community on Friday after playing the day before, said David Sánchez Luna, co-ordinator of the regional indigenous group known as CRAC-PF. Gunmen attacked their vehicle at around 14:00 local time in Mexcalcingo, he said. The victims, all men, were aged between 15 and 42.

The ‘Los Ardillos cartel’, which frequently targets indigenous people in the area, was blamed for the attack.

For over 20 years, Los Ardillos have been trafficking drugs in the mountainous region of Guerrero —throughout this time they have infamously extorted and kidnapped locals to consolidate their power and domain.

The rural ex-cop Celso Ortega Rosas, nicknamed ‘La Ardilla’, was involved in the business of poppy crops in the region of Quechultenango Guerrero, and he is the founder of the criminal group.

According to a 2015 article on El Universal, los Ardillos started kidnapping and extorting people. They gave their victims a 24 hour period to vacate their homes before taking possession of the property.  In 2008, Celso Ortega Rosas was detained for the kidnapping of a woman, the homicide of two agents of the former ‘Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SEIDO)’ a body that has since dissolved and was focused on undercover investigations in the center of Guerrero state.

When the bodies of the victims were found, they were beyond recognition.

After authorities refused to release them to the families, hundreds of indigenous people blocked a road on Friday night, according to La Jornada newspaper.

Authorities shared the names of the deceased victims.

The men who lost their lives were: José Julio y Cándido Fiscaleño Hilario; Crescenciano Migueleño Coapango; Israel Tolentino Ahuelican; Israel Mendoza Pasado; Regino Fiscaleño Chautla; Antonio Mendoza Tolentino; Lorenzo Linares Jiménez; Juan Joaquín; y Marcos Fiscaleño Baltazar.

The Guerrero prosecutor’s office said it was investigating the case.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s most violent states, where drug gangs fight for control of trafficking routes to the Pacific and other parts of the country. Los Ardillos have been linked to dozens of deaths in recent months, including many indigenous people, according to local media.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has opted for a non-confrontational approach to the cartel.

Focusing, instead, on tackling inequality central to his efforts under a policy dubbed “abrazos, no balazos” – hugs not bullets. But this policy has come under fire after a number of high-profile attacks, including an ambush in which nine members of a Mormon community were killed. The president vowed to create a new National Guard to tackle violence, but few have signed up to the force amid fear of being killed on the job.