Headed Down Mexico Way (Again)

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Having rested up from my abortive February trip to Mexico, where I was unable to get my pick-up truck past the frontier zone and into Mexico proper for obscure bureaucratic reasons, I am now about to return to Mexico for a couple of weeks of on-the-scene drug war reporting. I'll be in South Dakota Thursday morning and Mexico City in time for dinner Thursday evening. I will spend a week in Mexico City. Among other things, I will be meeting with a member of Congress who has introduced a marijuana decriminalization bill, along with a select group of Mexico City marijuana activists involved in the campaign. I think I will also be spending some time with folks working with hard drug users and drug-using street youth in the city, and I will be interviewing as many academic and other experts as I can about Mexico's vicious drug prohibition-related violence (the death toll this year must be at 900 by now), the Mexican government's resort to the military to try to suppress the drug trade, and the looming multi-billion US drug war aid package. After that, it gets a bit hazy. I have been making efforts to get out into the countryside in some of the conflictive zones, in particular, the mountains of Guerrero (between Mexico City and Acapulco) and the state of Sinaloa, a traditional drug trafficking hotbed, and home of one of the violently competitive so-called drug cartels. But in both places, I've been receiving strong signals that people don't want to talk; that they are scared. I don't know at this point how this will play out, but I strongly suspect I will be heading to Sinaloa at the end of the month, where on April 29 and 30 a local newsweekly is holding a conference on "Drug trafficking, the Merida Initiative and the experiences on depenalization," which will feature a number of high-powered speakers, including a former Mexican attorney general and the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann. This should be interesting. Look for some blog posts starting this weekend and some feature articles in the Chronicle for the next couple of weeks (and perhaps beyond). I'm taking the DRCNet camera, too, so maybe I'll get some good pics. If I do, you'll see 'em here. Speaking of photos, check out the one accompanying this Associated Press story from Tuesday. That's right: It's a "help wanted" banner for the Zetas, the former military elite anti-drug unit members who switched sides, calling on current and former soldiers to call them if they're looking for more remunerative work. That's the country I'm headed to! Hasta la vista, baby.
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What not go to Nuevo Laredo?

I see alot of the action is along the border. Furthermore, I think it would be interesting to interview some top Zetas and understand how they operate and their views on "Plan Mexico".

psmith's picture

I was down in the Rio Grande Valley in February

I wrote about it in the Chronicle then.

I'm afraid that while interviewing top Zetas would indeed be interesting, the effort to set up such an interview could prove fatal. These guys scare me.

Get Involved to Stop the Merida Initiative/Plan Mexico

Meet with your local Congressional Reps and or their staff today!
Lots of people are doing it across he country, and in DC You can help!!!


I would have to agree that any attempt to gain access to any level Zeta member would be suicidal. They eat & sleep violence rooted in a protectionist mistrust. No questions asked period.
As for what drives them? Control & Power made legitimate by Money!! It's a wild west of sorts down in Nuevo Laredo.
Guns are for the most part controlled. So in essence a well armed group of ex-military thugs wield great power. The local police only carry side arms they have to provide themselves sometimes. At one point this year the local cops were asked to turn in their guns. There had been several gun battles between groups of Local & State police which prompted the Feds to impose such rules. That left a few federal military groups providing security for a city with well over a million in population. In any case the Cartels are well enough armed that confrontations with the military have resulted in numerous casualties on both sides. Prohibition has been allowed to linger for so long that the business of making money from black markets has evolved. The Mexican government has lost pace. Drug syndicates have great incentives for selling their products as the demand has continued to steadily climb in the last 10 years. Drugs such as Extacy & Meth have emerged in Mexico and are joining coke & heroin as big money makers for Cartels. Prohibition has spawned much violence. It just seems that those who can make a difference choose not to. J. Velasco Brownsville Texas

Nuevo Laredo

We are suffering here. I-35 goes straight through San Antonio, Austin, then Dallas. Dallas has access to highways stretching across the nation in every direction. I have never, in 12 years here, seen the violence occur so openly and brazenly. And while the danger is significant, it has been normalized into our communities. We live this every day, it isnt a news story to us. It is life. Thank you for your efforts to bring light to the situation here.

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