Mexican reports say that in 2004, a truce was broken between Carrillo Fuentes, nicknamed The Viceroy, and "Chapo" Guzman, the most wanted man in Mexico, who's listed as the 701st richest man in the world by Forbes, following the murders of close relatives on each side.

Tensions escalated and finally broke the two families' ties in 2008 when an old powerful drug ally of the Sinaloa Cartel, led by two brothers named Beltran Leyva, aligned with the Juárez mafia, unleashing the current marijuana smuggling bloodshed. The two cartels have "sicarios," or death squads, and gangs working for and protecting them. Gangs called the Artist Assassins and the Mexicles, thought to number about 2,000 members, work for the Sinaloa Cartel. Meanwhile, the Barrio Aztecas, born out of the Texas prison system, and La Linea are aligned with the Juárez Cartel.

Many are trained hit men, while many are kids between the ages of 14 and 18, who are unemployed, uneducated and are hired for as little as $40 to $80 to kill.

Now the Zetas, the elite government forces who defected from the military around 2005 and joined the Gulf Cartel, operating out of Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros just south of Texas, have apparently gotten so strong they have formed their own deadly mafia, adding to the cauldron of violence and sinister players of Juárez.

"What we lack is an ability to fully investigate. We sent in the military without proper intelligence, a folly in any war," said attorney and investigator De la Rosa. "So we don't know exactly which social group is suffering this genocide, who is killing them and what is the motivation."

Many residents here say they were initially happy when the army came to Juárez. They thought it would put a lid on the violence, but within a month, they say, it was obvious the military couldn't—or wouldn't—do anything. In fact, murders doubled.

"The army brought all of its bad habits to Juárez: extortions, kidnappings, torture," said Javier Cordona, 22, as he sat with gloomy friends outside the packed Jardin Funeral Home in downtown, where reporters had amassed following a rumor that one of the consulate murder victims was being taken there.

"You know what the worst thing is about all this? It's that it's become normal," said a 21-year-old friend, who didn't want his name used. He said that in September five of his friends were killed by gangs. "I think one of them may have had something to do with crime, but not the rest of them. The thing is...we don't know who's who. You may be standing next to someone or know somebody who knows somebody, and you're dead. We don't know who to trust."

Mexico's soldiers and police are traditionally underpaid, and except for those with specialized training in the high ranks, lower-class citizens seeking a way out of poverty man the front lines.

"The Americans send money to fight the narcos but they don't pay us well," said one federal police sergeant sent to Juárez as part of Calderón's operation. He was manning a barricade during a presidential visit in early March. With fear in his eyes, he chased a foreign journalist and told his story, hiding behind a bush. Around him, security for the Calderón visit was unprecedented, paralyzing Juárez for hours. Residents moaned and joked that it would be the only time cartel gangs would keep a low profile, and indeed, there were no killings reported in about six hours.

"I'm here to speak on behalf of my colleagues," said the officer. "We only make about $200 a week, and in the two years we've been here, we've only gotten one uniform and one pair of boots. People in Juárez say we're not doing anything, but it's not true. We're supposed to go where we want, but we don't have good intelligence. We don't have confidence in our leaders. I think you ought to investigate the army chiefs. In the high ranks, they are corrupt. They tell us not to go into this sector or that sector. They say 'Don't touch.'"

Traditionally, Mexico's military is a don't-touch zone. Attorney De la Rosa, 64, the legal scholar who ran the Chihuahua state prison system, is a veteran of human rights legal battles, including against the military death squads called the White Brigades in the 1960s.

Since 2008, De la Rosa had documented 170 cases of soldiers kidnapping, torturing and extorting innocent people. In October 2009, he fled the city after several threats against his life, including an unloaded gun pointed at his head.

"In every sense of the legal term, under the constitution, this was military coup. We are under an occupation," said De la Rosa, who reports to the state attorney general.

De la Rosa said General Felipe de Jesus Espidia, commander of the 5th Military Command overseeing operations in Juárez, told him to drop the cases against his troops. He refused and after that, he said, threats against him ensued.

"It was probably someone I named in my lawsuits, but I don't know. The military and the priesthood—it's impossible to win against them. One has the power of the nation, the other the power of God," said De la Rosa, who is a symbol of human rights in Juárez and is nicknamed Santa Claus for his long white hair and beard. "But I am like a boxer in the fifth round, I'm not done fighting."

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4 comments
Peter Breitholtz
Peter Breitholtz

juarez sounds like a scary place and i can't imagine how alive the people living there must feel; not the worst thing in the world; as for the policy, i believe it's a measure lawmakers decided would help cut down on crime and a strained budget in the state of arizona; correct me if i'm wrong; i agree this country lacks a coherent immigration policy and i believe it is simply becoming more coherent under the Obama administration, not that he supports the Arizona policy, publicly, but seriously, there are plenty of neighborhoods in this country that are just as frightening probably to live in than juarez; or at least way more frightening than they should be considering they exist on American soil; i'm beginning to believe the only policy that will work is tough policy, for now; until two things happen: 1. cartels are inspired to stop selling cocaine in the united states (mexicans consume one fifth of the cocaine americans do) and 2. start creating opportunities in cities deep within mexico that attract mexicans at the border and foreigners for that matter i believe it's time for the world to intervene; unfortunately, i don't believe any other country cares that americans continue to buy mexican drugs; i understand that americans are beginning to consume less cocaine and due to the strength of the euro, coke is being trafficked to europe where cocaine abuse is reportedly increasing; the cocaine is being moved through countries like guinea bisseau; maybe europe might start caring and a coalition could be formed to militarily overthrown el chapo; it's delicate though because i would imagine the cartel shares; although, a cartel member told me they don't; the world's big problem is lack of opportunity and a media that rubs wealth in our faces

Mark
Mark

You site the incredible violence in Northern Mexico and the power and reach of drug lords in that area, then question why we want to stop people who want to leave from that country to ours illegally? As someone who moved here from a relatively illegal immigrant free part of the country the horrible differences I see living here already are stark and undeniable.

Pablo
Pablo

We should prosecute criminals.

There is a problem with a Society that allows Police and Firefighters write laws and comment on their passage.

If these two groups want to write the Laws they enforce, go to an outright commie country and live there, is what I recommend to them.

The other day I heard a State Lawmaker comment that the singer that came to town should but out and mind her business in her country, and stop trying to impose her beliefs on this one.

The monkey never heard of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America?

America is quickly becoming a village of idiots.

And Joe Arpaio is their king.

*

Sdsaulka
Sdsaulka

Hey. Pablo. Clue in. ALL laws EVER made at ANY time or ANY place are the product of the cohort that wants them. Period. You have the temerity to disagree? The essence of the existential is its banality - think it through. Good day, sir.

 
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