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Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Trail of Dead

The story is told that Chapo Guzman traveled in a convoy of black Humvees right into the center of Juarez, stood on top of his vehicle and declared "La Plaza de Juarez belongs to me" the opening salvo in a war that has left thousands dead across Chihuahua. 

Just a few months back the U.S. State Dept. declared that according to their intelligence, the Sinaloa Cartel had won the battle for Juarez and was now in control. The outcome was decided long before Guzman's  brazen appearance in Juarez. The Sinaloa Cartel is a well oiled machine, in order to understand the outbreak of violence along our border with Chihuahua, you have to understand the Sinaloa Cartel. It's a ruthless organization that rewards those who are willing to kill without remorse. 

It's a fine line to walk, as the Gulf cartel found out with The Zetas, sometimes the killers you hire decide they want to kill you. What the Sinaloa Cartel does best is keep its soldiers in check, don't allow your appetite for destruction to devour you from the inside.

The Juarez cartel's frontline in Chihuahua consisted of several established smuggling families and associates. Over the years resentment grew as the mafiosos paraded around frontera towns like Palomas, Ascencion and Nueva Casas Grandes. 

The mafiosos dress in a bizarre style that mimics American western wear.  Garish colored, ostrich skin cowboy boots with the toes curled up like pro wrestler The Iron Sheik. Cowboy hats with the brims rolled up tight like a taco, western shirts with the top buttons open, dark sunglasses and the ever present cell phones. Just like mobsters in New York or Jersey, they carefully cultivate the appearance of never having worked a day in their lives. 

The have-nots gathered around their hard scrabble ranchos and colonias, dreaming of the day they would drive the pick-up trucks and man the Ak-47's. The Sinaloa Cartel (La Gente de Chapo) played off on this resentment, handing off tons of product to the new people or La Gente Nueva to move across the border. This forced the hand of the Juarez Cartel (La Linea) the killings started with both sides taking  the brutality up a notch. 

La Linea declared that there would be a "Limpieza" a culling of traitors and Sinaloa sympathizers. La Gente Nueva were soon being slaughtered by the hundreds, but unable to control its blood lust, La Linea had also started to destroy itself from within. It was just a matter of time before the Sinaloa Cartel would prevail, but what really turned the tide in Chapo's favor was the arrival of the Mexican Army.

The rumor of an agreement between Mexican President Calderon and Chapo Guzman has dogged the President since he took office. Regardless, once thousands of soldiers and Federales arrived in Juarez the Sinaloa Cartel got the upper hand. 

The word went out that the plaza was under new management and all outstanding debts were being called in. People all across Southern New Mexico scrambled either to make good or make tracks. The mafiosos were replaced by a new generation of  narcos, coked up  street thugs, ex-Mexican Army and gangbangers from both sides of the border, all are stone cold killers.

That the Sinaloa Cartel won is not in doubt, that has been made very clear even on this side of the border. Recently right here in town, a new restaurant opened, it's called  "El Sinaloense" this in a city and county where the vast majority of Hispanic residents have roots and family in Chihuahua. 

We get the message, it's purpose is not to serve food, but rather to serve notice. Most locals avoid it, not out of loyalty to Chihuahua, they just don't want to get caught in the crossfire if  La Linea decides to deliver a message of their own.   

The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive.

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