Murders for $800 (pesos)
The wars and conflicts of Tijuana have birthed a bleak, desperate generation of expendable men, and children, who fight for the street corners in the city. Rarely meeting their alleged 'bosses', middle management for higher profile leaders of the retail cells, they take orders from street level bosses, issuing commands through cell phone and radio communications. Payment almost always takes the form of crystal. Or in this case a few hundred pesos, which is the equivalent of roughly $60 dollars, depending on the exchange rate, which is around 15/1 currently.
What can you buy with $60? An 8th/ounce of crystal in San Diego will run about that. Maybe $80. 1 gram, or 5 hits of MDMA, or 'molly' of questionable origins. A few 'fusion' cocktails over brunch in downtown San Diego, on a lazy Sunday, binge eating and drinking through the day. A few pieces of greasy pizza or hot dogs, 2 packs of cigarettes and a Coca-Cola. It's not very much money. And, to many for whom that will never be very much money, they will never meet those who would commit murder for $60. Plus, an ounce of crystal. Or a half ounce.
Joshua Issac Aguilar Lopez, 19, was arrested late last week in Tijuana, after allegedly assaulting a cab driver. Lopez was in possession of the ever present packets of packaged crystal for sale, and a 9mm pistol. He reportedly told his interrogators he was part of the group of 'El Grenas', and was recruited 5 months ago. He was paid 300 pesos for identifying and scouting rival dealers to kill, and 800 pesos for collaborating on the murder, watching for police, and conducting surveillance.'
With this price structure, one cannot imagine the cost for the actual shooter to be more then 2,000 pesos. So, we can recreate the comparison above with those figures, or just see the larger picture that murder, kidnappings, executions and their support are all available for a few hundred dollars. Poverty, addiction, apathy, and Mexico's wrenching inequality have created this free market enterprise. Or not so free. Because if you collaborate with 'Grenas', his enemies will kill you. If you switch sides, his people will kill you.
One can say "oh, he was a sociopath from birth, just evil personified'. But, there are many dead, and many killers, and they are not all from that cloth. To say with a straight face that hundreds and dozens of men, women, children aspired to be killers and lookouts is very difficult. For me. Maybe not for others.
A grim sense of numb disgust comes as one imagine the bodies that turn up all over Tijuana, those that collect their payment, those that issue it, and those that sip the drinks on both sides of the border, whose daily lives don't involve murder, or shootings, or kidnappings, who simply breeze through their days and instagrams of shameless self involvement....as others plot to kill, maim, and kidnap.
Sources: AFN Tijuana