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The following article by Patricia Mayorga, The Tarahumara Mountains: The Narco Tales of Terror, is republished here with permission from It’s worth noting that Mexico’s constitution protects its citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. Only not so much.

Chihuahua, Chih. 7-27-2012 (apro). – Stories of terror in Guadalupe y Calvo Municipality, located in the Tarahumara Mountains, repeat themselves day after day, without municipal, state or federal authorities doing anything about it. In the community of Ojito, for example, an armed group last Wednesday, July 26, executed a young man, 27 years of age. The victim, Saul Martinez Rodriguez, was decapitated in front of his relatives . . .

Before they cut his throat, the murderers made a 16 inch cut on his chest. Hypovolemic shock was the cause of death, according to the Southern Zone Attorney general’s office.

In Guadalupe y Calvo violence is the daily bread. The last week this past June, the armed group that controls this administrative government center stripped municipal police agents of their weapons and demanded 10,000 pesos for their return. Not satisfied with that action, on the 29th an armed group slit open a man’s throat in front of the hospital.

In an interview, the mayor Jose Ruben Gutierrez Lorea admitted there are violent incidents in his area, but it’s no different than what is happening in other parts of the country, he said.

On election day, this past Sunday, July 1, members of a crime group threatened officials in a voting location in the community of Tohayana, and almost three months before election day, 34 men were murdered in that area.

Gutierrez Acosta (Lorea) said he became aware that something had happened in Tohayana, but he did not admit there were murders: “Yeah, they said there was a fight over there, but that’s more than a month ago. There’s not even that many people there any more, most of them have gone over to a town in the other state (Sinaloa), right now there’s about two families left, that’s what they say.”

He assured (us) that the Army patrols the area and it’s gotten more peaceful, although the locals have a different opinion . Fear has forced the people in the community to lock themselves in their homes every day, and on weekends they prefer to get out of Guadalupe y Calvo. In the last few months, the State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) has insisted that (authorities) need to investigate what’s happening in that municipality, which borders the State of Sinaloa.

On several occasions, the CEDH inspector/visitor for Parral, Victor Horta Martinez, has requested that municipal police officers be provided weapons, but up to now the local authorities have not responded. There are 60 officers working three shifts in the municipality, and a few more “sectionals” who work other areas..

CEDH President, Jose Luis Armendariz Gonzalez, admits that the violence in the municipality has increased and the rage has become “a natural thing.” Criminal groups, he says, are constantly fighting in the towns, but it’s difficult to report homicides or disappearances because the criminals themselves carry the victims off, for several reasons. They don’t want to draw the attention of law enforcement agencies, he says, so they can keep on acting with impunity without the Army or the state and federal police feeling the need to strengthen patrols.

One of the members of the military who has worked in that area, located in the south of Chihuahua, assures (us) that, while [the Army] has managed to seize drugs and weapons, and arrest criminals, his work –he declares– is almost like that of a street sweeper; “it’s as if you’re sweeping and somebody is coming behind you throwing more trash.”

He points out that drug trafficking is part of the inhabitants’ daily life. For example, he illustrates, indigenous women and children are hired to work planting and harvesting opium poppies (amapola) because they are skilled laborers for that type of crop, same as with apples, chile, onions, etc. Indigenous men take on the heavier work, such as harvesting marijuana, which is just another job for them since they don’t get involved in organized crime because they are “nomads”. They’re not used to working for established businesses, so they go from job to job, from season to season.

Horror stories

At the municipality, the local area’s government center, the inhabitants have turned their homes into “tanquetas” (light armored vehicles) and live with the uncertainty that at any moment and at any hour, they will see armed men, with or without hoods, come to fight with each other or with the townspeople.

On weekends, teachers, medical personnel and residents leave the town, because the violence gets worse on those days.

“When we return, we find out there have been murders, abductions (levantamientos), kidnappings. Ransom demands are made in millions of pesos, generally 5 million pesos. People work hard to get the money together, it’s very common for them to work the gum opium (la goma); they sell it and resell it and get the money,” explains one of the town’s school teachers.

People get together early in the day and behind closed doors to celebrate birthdays. “There’s so much fear, that you lock the door, and if somebody knocks you don’t open the door or ask who it is until you hear the voice of whoever is knocking. Or, if they come to visit, they have to call ahead by phone to warn you. Schools are always locked up, kids only go out for recess, and they don’t leave until their parents come (for them). Only a few are allowed to leave by themselves because they live close by,” he emphasizes.

According to the teacher, more than half of the students in one of the grade schools are orphaned of either a mother or father. In fact, there are class groups in which out of 23 students, 18 are orphans, since women are also murdered because they’re the partners of men involved with criminal groups, he points out.

In Guadalupe y Calvo, the indigenous community, almost half of the population, is of Tepehuan ethnicity. There’s a Catholic shelter that many of those indigenous people come to, used also by some mestizo (mixed blood) community members. In that shelter they treat young girls who have been raped, abused, abandoned or mistreated, and who are suffering psychological aftereffects. The shelter is operated full time and is financed by a sponsor and by the Chihuahua Business Foundation, but the workers are from the community, teachers and doctors.

“It’s worth staying here because you see that you are making a difference, that you can do something for the children,” says the teacher being interviewed.

“Everyone knows who sells and who uses (marijuana). The problem right now is that supposedly the people that had always been here belonged to El Chapo. About a year and a half or two years ago, they arrested a man they called El Mochomo, he’s still in jail, and because they haven’t gotten him out his people turned on him and are killing the El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman Loera) people,” he says.

He recalls the massacre that took place three months ago in Tohayana, that, in fact, was not reported in the media. After they killed them, he adds, they (the killers) sent the town a warning: if you don’t settle down, there will be more deaths. Last Sunday, (July) 22nd, they killed six, and five on Wednesday, the 25th, also in the municipal government center.

“The deaths are very bloody, they torture them, decapitate them, cut them into pieces. You generally hear more than a hundred shots, sometimes (the shootouts) don’t last long in (terms of) hours, but they are more frequent. To get to El Vergel, for example, you have to go through Guadalupe y Calvo, and the people over there belong to another criminal group, so when they pass through here to get there, there’s always a shootout.”

The coordinator of the Chihuahua Institute for Adult Education in that area, Hector Jauregui, ran over a man a month ago in the municipality. The professor himself took the wounded man to the hospital but he died a few hours later.

The dead man was the father of one of the town’s sicarios (killers for hire), who forced the police to arrest the driver and hand him over to him.

“It was so blatant! They killed him in front of many witnesses who heard him say, when they were about to kill him, not to do this because he had a family,” recalls the teacher.

The CEDH got a complaint on that case and Inspector Victor Manuel Horta let it be known that, by order of the State Attorney General, any official who travels to Guadalupe y Calvo must travel with bodyguards, because so many of them have been murdered these last few months.

The Southern Zone prosecutor, David Flores Carrete, pointed out that the actions of the Municipal Public Safety Directorate in Guadalupe y Calvo cast doubt on the job they are doing.

In the municipality, the center of local government, local residents identify three pickup trucks that frequently drive through the place as (belonging to) a group that recently came from Sinaloa. They travel with hoods on, and wear military clothing and carry AK-47s (cuernos).

“They’re young, and some of them go around with their faces uncovered all the time. Before, you knew who the bad guys were, you know who sells and uses drugs, but these days they don’t respect anybody, everything has become bloodier,” emphasizes the interviewee.

They flee for safety reasons

Dozens of doctors and nurses in the municipality have fled in the last year and a half because they were personally affected by the violence. Since 2010, the doctors at the regional Department of Health hospital have lived moments of terror when they’ve had to treat victims wounded by gunfire who belong to one group or another. For example, a married couple, both doctors– he a pediatrician and she, an internist– had to leave the hospital three months ago because one of them was attacked on the road to El Ocote, and they took their daughter away from the place because they received kidnapping threats. They asked for a transfer because of the situation with their daughter, but they were given only six months to take care of their situation.

The majority of the doctors who arrive there do it as part of their social service or internship, and when that (assignment) is over, they decide to remain there because they see the needs and goodness of the local people, who need them. However, the violence has forced them to leave, even those with 10 or 20 years on the job. The doctors are from Puebla, Guerrero, Baja California, Distrito Federal (D.F.), Sonora and Chiapas, Jalisco and Chihuahua.

“Nobody wants to move to the mountains any more,” say two doctors who left the community. One left the hospital a year and a half ago, the other a few months ago. According to the doctors, on at least three occasions armed groups came into the hospital looking for a patient to murder him.

In December, 2010, at 1:00 in the morning, individuals came and asked a nurse about a patient. When she pointed him out, they stabbed him. When the killers came out of the hospital room, the nurse came face to face with them. They were young men between 18 and 20 years old, and they threatened her with the knife.

A week later, on New Year’s Eve, an armed group came into the hospital. A nurse on duty was intercepted and threatened by the “relatives” of a victim of one of the patients and forced to tell them where he was. They took the patient away and murdered him about a half mile from the hospital. The nurse was transferred for six months to a hospital in the capital city to be treated for post traumatic stress. At the end of that period, she asked not to return because there were threats against her.

The Health Workers Syndicate asked her not to file criminal charges.

On another occasion, at the beginning of 2011, a person wounded by gunfire arrived at the hospital, and his wife asked for protection because he could not be transported elsewhere. Hospital staff told them they could not guarantee his safety.

“The family brought a lot of armed people, they stayed in the hospital for 36 hours. It was a very tense situation. There were about eight people in the hall ways, and there were more in the parking area and on the wall (around the hospital),” recalls one of the female doctors.

Doctors and nurses had to deal with the situation during that time. The hospital director came in several hours later “and told the armed men, ‘behave yourselves, because later the doctors will not want to treat you.'”

The Army came after the men had already left. They questioned the doctors, asked to talk with the patient and the hospital director. “The problem is that there were rumors that the doctors had notified the Army, and we were afraid of reprisals,” he said.

On September 12, 2011, another armed group came into the hospital and murdered a 33-year old man who had just been brought in with bullet wounds. The armed men followed him into the emergency room, killed him and left. Hospital staff were in shock, but there were no reassignments.

Unprotected police

This past May 19th, the Guadalupe y Calvo chief of public safety, Eleazar Salas Martinez, was murdered. That afternoon, he left the office accompanied by one of his police agents and went to a place where he had an appointment, according to the testimony of the police officer, who survived.

When they got to a ranch house, several armed men wearing hoods picked them up, blindfolded them with adhesive tape and took them to an uninhabited area. The police officer testified that he heard several shots and, after a few minutes, he removed the blindfold and saw there was nobody around.

The chief was 36 years old and left infant children. He had no life insurance or social security, nor did he sign payroll receipts, and he was listed with the City Council as earning very low wages. His wife will receive support from the Trust for Care of Victims of Violence. Nothing more. Last week, they murdered the police officer who survived that attack. He was with his brother and a nephew, who were also murdered.

The residents of Guadalupe y Calvo believe that it was that same police officer who set his chief up to be murdered.


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  1. all this death and destruction is tied to the drug trade. make that crap legal just like alcahol and tobacco. i don’t say this because i’m a liberal or drug user. i’m neither. but what we’re doing isn’t working and is costing society,us, unknown billions of dollars and we have nothing to show for it. make it legal, make it clean and make treatment avaiable for those that ask.

      • Your talkin’ crazy , man. Making too much scene. Then all those DEA folks will be unemployed. Plus, prisons will have room for bankers and politicians, er, ahh, I mean criminals that should be locked up, yea that’s it. Criminals that should be locked up! That’s my story and I’m stickin to it!

    • I’m with you on pot, and maybe even cocaine, but it’s hard to think about legal heroin or meth.

      And don’t kid yourself that it will create a tax windfall, not when the backyard weed will be better than the officially sanctioned stuff. Few people want bathtub gin because the real stuff is fairly cheap, better, and won’t blind you, but with pot the unofficial stuff is better. So if the gov’t tries to tax and control it, then at best it will be like smokes in NY with smuggling, special stamps, the mob, etc.

      • anon, is the way we’re doing it now the solution? fortunes spent, lives lost, families destroyed and are we anywhere near a “victory” in this war. i’m open to suggestions that are better than”business as uaual”.

      • Sure it will be a Tax windfall.

        How many people (potheads) are going to go to the trouble of growing their own when they can stroll down to the corner store and buy a pack for a reasonable price? Not Many.

        Sure there will be some folks that will, but if they grow more than a certain amount then the IRS (with new marching orders in hand) would have to come hassle them to get licensed and start paying taxes.

        No one is saying this would be a perfect solution, just that it would be a LOT better than what we see now.

        • I think we’re missing the big picture here. Drugs are with us and they always will be. The real issue is the death and violence. Come November, if you vote for Obama, he and his crew are absolutely going to push this “small arms treaty” and you can absolutely count on the violence coming here, to stay. The police down there DON’T EVEN HAVE GUNS. Mexico is lost and never coming back. If we give up our second amendment rights to these people, we’ll be gone and never coming back either.

    • Nothing to show for it? What are you crazy!? Think of all of the money and the business undertakers would lose if drugs were legalized!

  2. Historically speaking, a hundred years ago we would have invaded them and fixed the problem. Like we did in 1914, ’16, and ’17-’20.

    • Are you volunteering to go? Well, Joe….Get to it. There’s nothing stopping you from striking out on your own.

      • Come on Steve, American Imperialism is definitely the best option. Look how well it’s worked 0ut for the Injuns and the Afghanis. Better yet, how about a CIA coup? The Iranians, Congolese, and Guatamelans know how well those work.

        • American Imperialism worked just fine in Philippines, though.

          The crucial distinction being that there it was actually imperialism. Annexing the land for yourself, and then – as the new owner who got it away from the guy who neglected it – make it better. Not just chase rebels in the mountains, but build schools, educate people. And, yes, make their culture change in ways that ensure their future prosperity, by force if necessary.

          The problem in Afghanistan today is that precious little is done in that department. The country is left to rule by the warlords who are “for us”. But when it comes to freedom and prosperity, those sons of bitches are as bad as Taliban, worse in many respects – Taliban hanged poppy growers and beheaded people who raped young boys, whereas today’s Afghan government consists of pedophile rapists and drug dealers. Oh, by the way, that the constitution of the “free” Afghanistan says that it’s an Islamic state and that no law can contradict Sharia? That is the constitution that American soldiers in Afghanistan defend with their arms and their lives right now. It’s a travesty. Of course it’s not going to work. What does work is when you go in and run all yourself, and take full responsibility and just fix things. Like US did in Japan after the war, and both Japanese and the rest of the world are now glad for that, even today.

          In Afghanistan, it’s probably not worth the bother. It’d take a lot of time, money and lives, way beyond simple charity – and for what? Mexico, now, is a different matter. It has a land border with United States, and building a wall won’t solve that problem. It is in direct actual interests of American national security (unlike Iraq/Afghan) to ensure that Mexico is peaceful, free, and prospering – but it’s not going that way.

  3. It just hit me that this is the country who’s Presidente is leading the disarmament of US citizens. Well, he’s got a hell of a resume if you go by this story.

  4. The reason we are fighting terrorism in Syria and not Mexico is we do not expect liberal democrat voters to come here from Syria.

  5. Corruption, murder, mordida (bribe) is nothing new in Mexico.
    Business as usual 30 years ago driving to Baja was bring cash to pay the cops, bandits and fed police at road blocks.
    Cartels have only grown stronger because of the corruption of the entire government from day one.

  6. Forget blaming drugs and the drug trade. It’s about bad people acting with impunity and no one gives a shit any longer. Mix in gun bans and you’ve got sheep being slaughtered.
    If you legalized pot, coke, heroin, etc would they get regular jobs? Hardly. It’s far too late to think about bringing about change just so people in the US can get stoned legally.

    When it becomes a serious enough problem here we’ll deal with it like any other invasion

  7. Mexico has literally turned into hell on earth…what a sickening place it has become. I feel for the poor people unlucky enough to have been born there.

  8. As I’ve said before, an AR-15 is a good purchase if you live within a couple of hundred miles from the US-Mexico border.

    Of course, if murder was illegal in Mexico, and signs were posted to that effect, I’m sure violence would diminish accordingly.

  9. God help us if these animals and the animals from the middle east ever get together..Blood will run in the streets of every city

  10. This is what happens when you disarm your people. The MX politicians were so concerned about staying in power that they disarmed their people. Instead of allowing the MX citizens to own firearms and protect themselves and risk an armed revolution, they allow the people get slaughtered. The plan backfired on them and now the criminals (the other only ones) have military weapons and run the country. This is what gun control looks like.

  11. Legalize drugs, all of them, and you take the cartels out of power and end the corruption. You don’t have to speculate on what would happen if we did this – Portugal legalized all drugs 10 years ago, and drug use plunged dramatically. (

    Less drug use, no money to power corruption and terrorism here and abroad, not paying to keep millions of citizens in prison. The only argument against it is the irrational fear created by the Ministry of Truth.

  12. I dont believe any of this ever happens in Mexico because Mexico is such a peaceful place where guns are not needed because it is the ideal Utopia.
    Ditto for Syria, loving, peaceful unarmed country where nothing like this ever happens….all just a dream… alllllllllllll just a dream.

  13. The way to stop illegal drugs is to start sending banking officials to jail for very long terms if they are caught helping to launder or transfer drug money. It is impossible for drug cartels to operate as they do without using banks to handle distribution of their enormous cash deposits. Bankers are turning a blind eye to transactions they know are being made by drug traffickers. If bankers started going to jail, the drug trade would decrease dramatically.

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