Drug War 40

The global war as seen from the center of North America


A guy on the street in downtown Juarez told me that you could get a guy whacked for a thousand pesos. That’s $80.

It wasn’t even the topic of conversation. He worked it in.

I was talking to him because I didn’t want to be too obvious about watching the drug transactions taking place on the street. This crack dealer had people crowding him like he was feeding pigeons.

When a freelance hit costs $80, how many people does a salaried hit man have to whack to keep from getting downsized? And he’s got to think he might get downsized with extreme prejudice. That’s a motivator.

You think Mexicans care if the U.S. has a drug problem? There still pissed at us about the last couple of centuries. Mexico didn’t have a drug problem fifteen years ago. I couldn’t always score a joint traveling through Mexico back then. Occasionally I had to deal with some real shaky people. Drugs had not yet penetrated the social fabric.

But now that fabric is sopping wet with drug use. And the drug of choice is crack cocaine. At least in Juarez.

A recent story in the FronteraNorteSur newsletter from NMSU put the annual Juarez crack market at at least $200 million, and I think it may be as high as $500 million. That’s what the local gangs are fighting for.

Crumbs, Juarez Mayor Reyes-Ferriz called it this week. I guess that puts it all in perspective.

— Rich Wright

Filed under: Analysis, opinion

One Response

  1. David says:

    Back in 1995, I noticed powder cocaine flooding the bars along Mariscal. For the first time in the 5 or 6 years I had been frequenting that area, I didn’t always feel safe. In 2001, I returned for a job and tried to reprise my old habits in those haunts and it was not safe at all. I didn’t simply not feel safe, I observed empirical threats to my well-being, such as taunts, sketchy looking people following us and getting too close, and open demands for money under threat of violence (as opposed to aggressive begging). I was there in 2007 again during the day. It seemed eerily deserted to me as opposed to threatening.

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