Saturday, December 12, 2015

Life in a Pueblo Mágico that is controlled by El Narco

Posted by DD republished from el Daily Post

Members of criminal group prepare to attack a family in Creel
  By  Manu Ureste

 Unbeknownst to the tourists who pass through, residents of the picturesque Pueblo Mágico of Creel in Mexico’s majestic Sierra Tarahumara live under the yoke of organized crime. They live under strict rules imposed by gunmen from the Sinaloa Cartel, one of which is never to speak publicly about the area’s insecurity. But in this article, part of an ongoing series entitled “Learning to Live with El Narco,” townspeople speak candidly about what life is really like in a cartel stronghold.

 Sicarios. Encapuchados. Trocas. Cuernos de chivo. Mariguana. Sembradíos.


Talk to Jennifer for 10 minutes and those narco-related words will fly out of her mouth. They mean, in order, narco hitmen or gunmen, hooded or masked men, pick-up trucks, machine guns, marijuana and pot crop.

Jennifer just turned 13.


But she needs these words to describe her daily life in Creel, a town in the heart of the Sierra Tarahumara in the northern state of Chihuahua. Creel is an official Pueblo Mágico, or “Magical Town,” meaning it receives government incentives to maintain its traditional character and culture to attract tourists.

It is also where, in 2008, members of a criminal organization burst into a party and killed 12 young people and a baby, and then warned the entire country that there would be more such massacres.
 Jennifer and Marta

Seated on an old sofa, Jennifer looks through dark, squinting eyes at her mother Marta, 40, who runs a small business.
I don’t tell my mother anything anymore,” she starts her story with a mischievous smile, as though she were about to confess to drinking the last soda in the refrigerator when nobody was watching, “but at school I see narcos passing by every day.”

Jennifer notices the concerned expression of her mother, who remains silent.

“The sicarios go by the school openly, in their trocas, encapushados, with their cuernos de shivo,” Jennifer continues, pronouncing her ch’s as sh, in the Chihuahua style. “They even say hello to us, and I’ve even seen them greet the police who are standing in the door.”

Asked why sicarios would be at her school, Jennifer replies, “They’re looking for shavalos to take away. I imagine they want them so they could use them to sell their marijuana.”

Chavalos means kids. Jennifer delivers this disturbing assessment without the slightest hint that there’s anything strange about it.

They grow the marijuana here? she’s asked.

Jennifer nods yes, but then immediately modifies her answer.

“No, not here. Where there’s marijuana is in Cusárare” — a place 25 kilometers from Creel, famous for its waterfall. “I’ve heard that’s where the most marijuana is growing.”

“And who told you that?” Marta interrupts, her black eyes wide open as she scrutinizes her daughter’s face.
The girls smiles again, shrugging her shoulders. Then she says, as though it were the most obvious answer possible, “My friends at school told me.”

Luis and Tomás

Luis is 52. He’s not a teacher, but he works at an education center located somewhere between Creel and Guachochi, which are 152 kilometers apart. He knows what Jennifer was talking about.
“Look, it really has been horrible around here,” he says in a priestly murmur, both hands clutching the steering wheel tightly as he drives through the streets of Creel. “With all the gun battles, they’ve been finishing off people. That’s why they go around looking for 13- or 14-year-old kids to work for them.”

He clears his throat and goes on.

“The situation with the schoolchildren is serious, but a lot of times it’s voluntary,” Luis says. “They’re not kidnapped. The sicarios first check with the kids, and then talk with their parents, indigenous people. They offer work and support. And these people, lacking so much, accept it as something normal.”

Luis takes his foot off the gas pedal.

The day before, news was going around that a vehicle was patrolling downtown Creel, carrying armed men in military get-up, bullet-proof vests and hooded with their faces covered. And now, not much past dawn, a white troca with tinted glass was right in front of his car.

“This is exactly the time of year for harvesting the (drug) crops,” Luis says. “It’s a big mess because there are two different groups fighting for the turf."


In March 2010, members of a criminal group arrived in Creel. The gunmen eventually took over the property of a local businessman after kidnapping him.
The white troca making the rounds belongs to what Luis calls “los shapos,” that is, sicarios in the service of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. Their presence in the Tarahumara highlands “here around San Juanito and (El) Guarichi” is challenged by the rival La Línea, a cell of the Juárez Cartel.

Luis waits as the white pick-up moves ahead and out of view, commenting that the people in town consider life among such armed groups as “something normal.” In fact, he says, the Sinaloa gunmen are seen as the true ensurers of security in their communities, not the state police, whom the people are more afraid of than the criminals.

The shapos respect people,” Luis is convinced. “When there’s going to be some kind of confrontation, they go around in their trocas telling people to go back to their homes, that it’s not safe out in the street.”

But unlike Luis and others, Don Tomás, another resident, doesn’t feel protected by the Sinaloa sicarios. The fact that criminal convoys blatantly take to the streets of Creel makes him angry.

“This is the harsh reality that we live with here,” Don Tomás says. “These organized crime guys are now part of the landscape of Creel and of the Sierra. That worries us. It scares us. We keep wondering if the authorities are going to do something about it, but the answer appears to be no.”

Luis, for his part, relates how the Sinaloa Cartel members established a series of rules that they communicated to Creel residents via word of mouth. Teachers, for example, must display on their car windows a union decal so they can be easily identified as teachers.

Also, residents shouldn’t travel by night, especially to San Juanito, 30 kilometers from Creel, where the rival cartel sets up roadblocks at sunset. The local press reported in September that a group of 80 Canadian and German tourists was attacked in that town.

Nor are they to go to any of the various communities scattered around the Guachochi area, where, according to Luis, “all of this is burning the hottest.”

“They have a rule,” Luis says of the Sinaloa sicarios, “which is don’t get out on the highway too early or too late.”

He says he’s used to seeing the sicarios on the highway, and that he doesn’t live with fear, just with caution. He follows their rules, and shuts himself inside his home after 6 in the afternoon.

“As along as it doesn’t affect your business or your job, there’s no problem with that,” Luis says.

Sara

Speaking slowly and melodiously with a resigned smile, Doña Sara tells how the business people of Creel often have no other choice than to tell tourists, especially the Canadians and Germans passing through town with their backpacks, that “all is fine here.”

“Comments about insecurity are kept to a minimum here,” she says. “If a tourist asks about it, you don’t tell the whole truth. You say that all is calm. In other words, the comments are always positive so as not to scare the tourists.”

Sara understands, however, that many of the shopkeepers are facing a dilemma, caught between registering complaints about the security situation and saying nothing in order to protect their business income, which depends on tourists.

“They’re in a double-bind,” is how Sara puts it. “On the one hand, if they speak out about what is happening, that could affect tourism. On the other, if they stay silent, they are in a sense contributing to bad government, being the same as those who say that everything is fine here even though that’s not true.”

Sara’s recommendation is for residents and townspeople to avoid exposing themselves to risk, but at the same time to try not to succumb to fear.

That’s a difficult assignment, but Doña Sara is convinced that it’s the right course of action.
“We cannot let fear of the narcos paralyze us, or stop us from going out and enjoying this beautiful land,” she says, her gaze turning to a huge carpeted hill that seems to spring from the heart of the fertile Sierra Tarahumara
 

55 comments:

  1. Brilliant article. The thing is, the narco is part of Mexico. It's not a separate entity. From the 14 year sicario to El Chapo Guzman and everyone I between all the narcos are victims. All of them brought into the life too early to question it. Even El Mayo Zambada said in his proceso interview "the problem with the narco" is that it's is rooted in society. Even he knows that it is wrong but is little that can be done with a terrible government strategy, rife poverty and USA demand. Things have only got worse since the 2006 "war".

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    1. 11:37 PM, Agree, this is a brilliant read, and with what u r saying, too. Something else el Mayo told Proceso was that for what they have done, people like him should be in prison or lined up and shot. He said it wasn't about the money,anymore, but protecting and helping families in his area make their livings. I would resent the 6pm curfew, but would do my best to keep it.

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    2. The problem in mexico and everywhere else is the "blaming" the producers, the traffickers, the grameros, the addicts, the government, demonizing all of them, while celebrating and protecting the drug money laundering banks, the "investors", the mathaphakas that buy your job and your whole industry to offshore it to some cheap communist slave labor sanctuary and get government help and tax breaks to do it...that there is your problem, GREED...
      --some say GREED is good, and oh so hollywood...

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    3. Ghandi once said There is enough in the world to meet mans needs but not his greed.Well put.

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    4. Canadiana, we back on...thanks.

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  2. Thats how a true drug lord works not messing whit innocent people like el chapo guzman im from tamaulipas and here belived me the coward narcos dont respect nobody, i wish i lived in a place controll by el chapos gun man instead of tamaulipas

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    1. In Tamaulipas, many Z and CDG groups make way more money kidnapping and extorting their own fuckin neighbors than moving producto. It's sad.

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    2. Getting juan garcia abrego, and osiel cardenas guillén was not a thing el chapo did, insiders stabbing each other on the back, all while the zetas made their own little thing...
      --But TEXAS chose the winners and the whiners, while TEXAS COULD, now it is all the mine shaft left over for the next wise ass, oh, and fracking, soon as the oil glut is done with, if they have to give the oil away for free...
      --Mexico will borrow the salvation army's red kettles to make up for pemex loses...

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    3. You are right.That is very sad.

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  3. Respect to chapo guzman from russia thats how you work man ,not fucking whit civilians wow ur are a bad ass mr chapo

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    1. Hey Russian. how about respects to Los Tarahumaras that are the most hard workers in the country and are true champs at running marathons. That is true respect to me.

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    2. Respect to Russia from Mexico. Mr. Putin is a bad ass.

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    3. Pinchis comunistas, nos van a cerrar BB por su culpa, pinchis terroristas...
      --just as Putin is trying to invade mexico in chinese containers full of kalashnikovs and heckler and Koch forbidden weapons and hezbollah cardboard missiles made in North korea, you singing his praises...dick cheney is going to get mad...

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    4. Shoutout to Vladimir Putin. Coolest guy on the planet above El Chapo Guzman lol

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    5. Vlad snitched. (Seems Chapo's a bed hog who ends up with all the covers). Chapo tunnels, Vladdie preens to the cameras with his KGB savoir faire. Putin's coming to the end of his run, which likely won't end democratically, there's more than one extremely powerful hp who wants to be Russia's next owner...Chapo, he is still in his stride, which is horribly unfortunate for Mexico. Wouldn't want to carry either one of their sorry asses' karma, though, that's for sure.

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  4. El shapo snitched!

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    1. All the time!!! No respect from Russia for this

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    2. Hahahahaha sure he did

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  5. What a sad state of affairs that people have to go into their homes after six in the evening. What really pisses me off about Mexico and their government is the fact that people have to fear them worse then the criminals.

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  6. Once drugs are legalized the narcos will loose 90% of their financial power and thereby 90% of their men and firing power. Corruption will be greatly diminished (less money to feed the corrupt police/military/government) and therefore security in the hands of the public will improve.

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    1. Drugs will not be legalized.

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    2. 6:07 What will you do with the tens of thousands or millions of new addicts?

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    3. So right after legalizing there will be legal source just waiting to take over?

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    4. You just gave us all the reason that will NOT happen.

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    5. You'd still have people competing to control prime growing areas or strategic points (like the puertos that bring in the precursor chemicals from Asia). You'd still have people using violence to monopolize control of certain markets and routes.

      More importantly though, the current narcos that are alive wouldn't just go and retire quietly. Look at what has happened with the Zetas and CDG as they've lost leadership and broken up from highly centralized structures to semi-independent cells/gangs. As they've lost power and connections in the drug realm, they just move to kidnapping and extortion, which is even worse. Most people would prefer living with Los Chapos from the article above than with little Z clickas running around kidnapping innocent people and attacking businesses cause they don't carry no weight no more.

      The only real solution is raising the educational/income level in Mexico. When you build universities and an educational and economic structure that offers people real opportunities, then you won't have these poor kids going to work as sicarios for probably not much more than a few hundred dollars a month.

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    6. If you take down 10%of the greatest money launderers, you take down 90% of the drug trafficking business, confiscate their money, and the people will own untold amounts of MONEY and SAY GOODBYE TO PUBLIC DEBT EVERYWHERE...
      --just 10%, to the guillotine, is that too much to ask for?
      --they do not give a rat's ass about 100% anybody else...

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    7. They thought when prohibition was ended in the US that the mafia would disappear. Didn't happen! They simply found other illegal ways to make money. Same thing will happen in Mexico, plus the country will be littered with addicts who can't afford the new lower prices and will turn to crime, petty and otherwise.

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    8. None of you that responded here saying legalisation will never happen etc etc seem to know little of fairly recent history, like f.i. the fact that during the 2nd ww the States, fearing they would run out of pain killing opiates, especially in a time when they would be so much needed as so many got wounded horribly, induced especially the former growers of that product inChapo's district to AGAIN start producing, DESPITE this being contradictory to their own legislation in place that made it an illegal product group as is still the case today. The producers had at that time been legally discouraged by the ban that came in the same decade as the ban on alcoholic beverages that turned out so disastrous, creating all that heavy crimnality and a 4-fold increased alcohol consumption and many more deaths as there were no oversight of quality under conditions of rejection. Immediately after the war without saying as much as 'thank you', the US again started imposing their sanctions and prosecution. The States have , partially due to their excessive adoration of and rewarding attitude towards considerationless economics and selfenrichment after ww 1 more and more have turned to manipulation and unfair dealings over their own boarders, and now their rules and rulers take an inhuman view toward their own citizens as humans as well. Being fair, or honestly having a moral code and standards that you would live up to, have never been a thing that went together with the rules of "making profits", they have been nothing but a game of words that's been played and now they are not even that no more probably. For their increasing arrogance and help behind the screens to dictators and mingling in affairs and cultures that they knew (and know) nothing about and do not understand, arrogantly and Always judging others whilst playing unfair by themselves, the United States have started to become a common subject of hatred of members of mankind from anywhere. About the Mexicans, they should be grateful they are, at least, still DELIVERING that product. For a great part, they are not showing to be worth it, or any of it. And sooner then they might expect, they might run out of (source of) it and maybe only then find this would be a thing they would regret.

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  7. The video is crazy

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  8. I wish we had a shapo in tamaulipas los de golfas lost the meaning of respect since osiel we havent had nobody to defend us n take care of us only poor lavacarros y tamaleros who rise to power overnite n then get greedy if only shapo can come show us how to work the world would be a better place. Metros an cyclones need to get together to be a cartel not just cholos estorcionaderos y secuestraderos grameros i used to want to be cdg but now i go for cds desde cd.mier tamaulipas.

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    1. you used to wannabe CDG?Yuck!

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    2. 7:46 there is a difference between CDS AND CDG...
      --CDS BUYS POLITICIANS AND POOLICE, AND MILITARY AND KEEPS CONTROL OF THEM...
      --CDG allowed pooliticians to have a say, and poolice and military, and ended betrayed by all of them, see, Carlo Salinas the "G" and his family, tightly going about tamaulipas, nuevo leon, coahuila, all the way down to guerrero chiapas oaxaca, with branches to east and west mexico, and his heirs go all about the same way...fron chihuahua to cancun and guatermala...
      --only CDS kept some independence,because it is Rafael Caro Quintero's cartel, and the US owes him big time...

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    3. Breaking news, how to make "Monas de Guayaba"/YouTube
      --you use only legal store bought ingredients, esseee...
      Para que ser un pinchi mariguano fuera de la ley.

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  9. between la junta and guerrero is controlled by la linea... la linea there supports the people and are very nice too. don't get me wrong some lineas are drug addicts that dont care who they kill but others are the opposite... an ex that bb could know is el chuyin which he was a angel in villa ahumada but was also a devil for killing his rivals.... in that area you never hear a lot of horrible things like in guachochi and all that are

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  10. Everyone everywhere should legalize MJ, but it is just unrealistic to think that all the hard drugs will ever be legalized , not in our lifetime.........jest sayin' ......too much money involved , the tentacles of El Narco / organized crime / corrupt govs/ corrupt white collar corporate crime is one Giant worldwide Cabal......I dont know what the answer is . Plus we cant just keep accusing poor peasants of not rising up against such a machine without support from every direction. We cant rise up against our own corrupt machine in the US.
    Viva La Raza
    Virgencita de Guadalupe las bendigo

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    1. Legalizing the space powders would be really complicated on so many levels, it will take a boatload of legislation and new laws before you even get to the distribution level issues and decriminalization boundaries. What about designer drugs? Legalizing and taxing marijuana is simpler by far. A step in the right direction imo. Unfortunately, the hard drugs scene is a public health disaster anywhere you go but rarely addressed for what it is, too often treated as a law and order issue--especially, come election time. Let's watch the Canadian example, see where it goes, what it can show us. Trudeau's new government isn't a 1950's throw back like Harper's party of one, they're pretty hip, the hard drugs problem will get put on the table for public discussion. Vive Canada:-)

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  11. What you do is: NAME THE AUTHORITIES IN CHARGE NOT DOING THEIR JOB
    The Houses of Death in cd Juarez were ran by state police elements and local associates, all escaped.
    As new governments arrive, on all states, priority #1 is take over the police and drug trafficking, and submit the rest of the competition, then see what the prior pendejo governor left behind for the new "pendejo governor"
    Chihuahua gobernador cesar duarte, all he cares about is stealing a d then robbing whenever he is not muggin someone for a the marbles, that is how you become a chiguauguauan "banker" chingüengüenchon style with currency exchanges and your own state poolice and private Gangbanging drug traffickers to hold the "linia" while of course, epn and el pri no know nothin'...

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    1. Durarte's an evil prick, no doubt.

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  12. Thanks, DD. Can you print this article on Tzintzuntzan, Mich? There are a lot of ex-pats in that area living in denial:

    http://www.eldailypost.com/security/2015/12/a-pueblo-magico-of-michoacan-enchantment-interrupted/

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  13. Just watched a couple of documentaries about ISIS.Even though this is not religious based,or as severe as ISIS.It's similar to the situation that the Syrians that are living in the the Town of Raqqa are going through.

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    1. Did u see bombs blow u dumass don't say theyres similarities cause then imagine usa

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  14. I can see why ppl like el chapo Guzman

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    1. WE LIKE EL CHAPO GUZMAN, BECAUSE HE WIPES HIS ASS WITH THE MATHAFACKIN' MEXICAN GOVERNMENT, THAT IS ONE REASON WHY, AND ALL THE OTHER REASONS ARE TOO SMALL COMPARED TO THAT, BUT THERE ARE SOME, IT IS NOT THAT HE IS MUY GUAPO, OR THAT HIS WOMEN ARE ALL THAT PRETTY...
      --oopsie boopsie, I'm sorry, I forgot to turn off the all caps...blame it on the "question"...

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  15. 90% wtf, income from turning more Mexicans into addicts is minimal. That's why they are ripping each other's loads-humans or contraband. Oil theft, 'piso' and kidnappings are 90%. Ice, heroin will not be decriminalize so Mexican corruption rolls on.

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    1. 11:21 "MEXICAN GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION"...
      --Let's not generalize and lump together all the mexicans, honey

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  16. This is such a beautiful part of Mexico and the Raramuri/Tarahumara people are wonderful. Hope peace returns there very soon. Hope and pray that no more lives are lost.

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  17. These tarahumaras should protect themselves like thevones in michoacan, they dont let no one mess with them.

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  18. Required Reading : Ioan Grillo 's
    EL ÑARCO Inside Mexicos Criminal Insurgency
    slightly out of date 2011, but excellent overview of the big picture. He makes an argument at the end for legalization , but admits that is frought with problems for all the obvious reasons.

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  19. This video is five years old and has appeared on Borderland Beat before. If you are going to claim to be a serious site covering the ongoing crisis in Mexico, stay current.

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  20. 8:58, any back story to the current horrors is always revealing, which I would say, gives past BB postings credibility and relevancy. BB contributors volunteer their time and translation skills, this is profoundly respect worthy. As a BB reader, I am grateful for what I learn from these dedicated individuals who post the articles and, yes, for all the comments, too, even the ones I can't agree with:-)

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