Friday, September 8, 2017

Review :"Bloodlines", Los Zetas, Treviños, and the American Quarter Horse Racing Scheme

Review by Adam V.(Siskiyou_kid) for Borderland Beat
image from Texas Observer
Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty by Melissa del Bosque


Veteran reporter Melissa del Bosque is an excellently researched book about the federal investigation into the Treviño Morales brothers, and their attempts to launder millions of dollars in illicit cash through the purchase, running, and breeding of champion quarter horses. Bloodlines is set for release Sept. 12 and it's an easy read that introduces the reader to the history of organized crime in Mexico, and fleshes out the current situation leading to a riveting story of ruthless crime bosses and the people who are tasked with taking them down. Del Bosque accomplishes this seamlessly, without boring any ardent follower of events in the narco world.

We are introduced to how the Zetas paramilitary force, has broken away from the Gulf Cartel, where they worked as enforcers. They went to war against their former benefactors, as well as other groups, including the Sinaloa Cartel, which was the most powerful criminal organization in Mexico at the time.


Two young FBI agents, including a rookie from Tennessee only weeks into his first time on the job, doggedly follow the trail of money and champion horses connected to the leadership of the Zetas crime syndicate following their break with the Gulf Cartel, while many colleagues and competing federal agencies see this as an unproductive line of investigation into a murderous organization selling hundreds of millions dollars’ worth of narcotics.

Del Bosque meticulously researched the story, with extensive personal interviews, not only with the two primary investigators and the prosecutors, but with seasoned reporters, other federal agents from the DEA, IRS, ICE, and the FBI, live court testimony, interviews with Mexican law enforcement officials, and direct interviews with some of the defendants targeted during the course of the case. This is in addition to her familiarity with border issues as a veteran report for the Texas Observer, and researching court transcripts, news stories, and other public information.

Scott Lawson and Alma Perez make are an unlikely pairing of young FBI agents stationed in Laredo, Texas, on the doorstep of the Zetas' stronghold of Nuevo Laredo. They get a tip and Lawson travels to a sprawling horse ranch outside Austin run by a wealthy young heir to a quarter horse breeding business started by his grandfather. Tyler Graham is a confident 26 year-old who agrees to help the FBI with their investigation into José Treviño Morales, the seemingly straight-arrow brother of the incredibly violent Zetas boss, Miguel Angél Treviño Morales.

The agents are tasked, with the help of horse broker and breeder Tyler Graham, with learning how José Treviño Morales has gone from a brick layer earning at most $60,000 a year, to the apparent scion of a horse-racing empire worth millions of dollars, in a little over a year. It is not a stretch of the imagination to consider the involvement of his violent brothers, who are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars through their criminal activities.

While the expense and manpower involved in such a complicated case could appear to be yet another pointless endeavor in America's drug war, del Bosque accurately points out that the Zetas are much more that a drug cartel, they are a criminal insurgency that has spread through much of Mexico, even into the Golden Triangle stronghold of the rival Sinaloa Cartel, where Miguel Treviño has even taken over ranches and racetracks to enjoy his pursuit of racing champion quarter horses. While narcotics play an important role in this story and the activities of the Zetas, they also derive a significant portion of their illicit profits from kidnapping, extortion, murder, and immigrant smuggling. These are activities that arguably impact a much greater percentage of Mexican society than simply running drugs.

Miguel Angél Treviño Morales and his younger brother and deputy, Oscar Omar Treviño Morales, are able to continue their reign of terror with little opposition from Mexican authorities. This is because they are able to subvert and corrupt nearly every level of government and society through bribes and intimidation. We are introduced to how brutal this is in states like Veracruz, where del Bosque introduces us to a victim of the Zetas who becomes wrapped up in the federal case. From the governor down to the lowest-paid local police, the Zetas have officials under their control, which is crucial in states like Veracruz, with its huge seaport and 400 plus-mile coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the eastern border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila.

The center of Miguel Treviño's operations is in and around the border city of Nuevo Laredo, one of the biggest entry points into the United States from Mexico for the transshipment of goods, and especially coveted for its proximity, via US Interstate 35, to San Antonio and US Interstate 10, where drug shipments can be routed to anywhere in America. Miguel Treviño and his and 6 brothers 6 sisters grew up here before the family relocated to Dallas, where they became accustomed to the border between the two Laredos being a mere formality. However, as the security situation in Mexico deteriorates and Miguel and Omar Treviño feel authorities closing in, they seek to establish a legacy for their family in the United States that will secure their family's financial future. They decide to enlist their low-key older brother to accomplish this through the purchase of champion quarter horses and blood stock.

A dizzying array of shell companies and front men are used to mask the true ownership, as José Treviño Morales spends millions of dollars purchasing champion bloodlines, almost always changing the names of the horses, further obscuring ownership history. Of course they weren't entirely discrete, giving the horses names like Forty Force and Number One Cartel. To pay the approximately one million dollars a month they spent buying horses at auction and caring for them, they enlisted a cadre of Mexicans who owned legitimate business, such as Francisco Colorado Cessa, who owned an oil services business with lucrative PEMEX contracts in Veracruz, to co-mingle Zeta cash with his legitimate revenue and wire money to pay for horses and other expenses. This web of deceit is aided by the shady nature of the horse racing industry, whose players looked the other way as cash was shuffled around, horses were drugged or otherwise manipulated to throw races, and employees and trainers at top racetracks colluded with criminals.

Many readers may recall Borderland Beat's excellent from the court coverage of the trial, and Melissa del Bosque delivers a clear and concise overview of trial key points, including the significant testimony of Jesús Enrique "Mamito" Rejón Aguilar, Z-7  in the Zetas hierarchy and one of their original founders, as well as testimony from a Dallas cocaine dealer and distributor, José Luis Vasquez Jr., who described how as much as three tons of cocaine would move through or be sold in Dallas, and how large sums from the sale of cocaine would be diverted to buy and maintain quarter horses. Vasquez Jr. and a man named Hector Moreno had given the Blackberry ID numbers of phones supplied to the Los Zetas leadership to the DEA, precipitating the bloody purge of the Cinco Manantiales [aka Five Springs; Allende, Morelos, Nava, Villa Unión and Zaragoza] communities in the border region of Coahuila, 45 minutes south of the border city of Piedras Negras. Entire families and everybody they knew were rounded up, killed, and burned, and their homes destroyed. As many as 400-500 people died in the massacre, while the state and federal government did nothing. The two DEA informants, José Luis Garza Gaytán and Héctor Moreno Villanueva, are widely blamed for the deaths of these innocent people, most of whom had nothing to do with the Zetas.

In short, Bloodlines is a well written account of how a rookie FBI agent and his partner, along with colleagues from their agency and several federal departments, took down a complex criminal operation built by the leader of one of the world's most fearsome criminal organizations. We gain insights into the inner workings of a ruthless criminal group, and the trail of victims they leave in their wake.
Channing Tatum has signed to play in the film version by Universal Studios

To read a teaser and chapter content use this hyperlink.  Borderland Beat couldn't resist this morsel, click on image to enlarge.

57 comments:

  1. Nice advertising,smh.

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    1. My perspective is completely different. We get no compensation other than a book. We were not asked for, nor would we give assurances of the positive review.

      and most importantly, the american public knows nothing about what is happening south of their border. What they learn is fake news, old news, and Lazy news. I will say Texas has the overwhelming majority of astute reporters on narco news.

      People are lazy to research on their own, at a time it could not be easier to attain real news. So they remain ignorant and completely oblivious.

      Lazy people still like to be entertained. I am convinced that to present an honest projection of the Mexican narco war, and cartels, is the only way to educate people. It is why I chose to post Martin Corona's book, not a tough call, and this was easier. Next is BONES, by Joe Tone. also a Texan :) and a film is being made of that book.

      The films I worry about, not going to lie....

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    2. Thank u very much for the heads up on the book. Chivis you are 100% rite about lazy reporters that is why I take BB serious. I, like so many other readers have been affected by what's happening in MEX I had a brother kidnaped and murdered in Mex in 2011 I feel like BB HAS really opened up a lot of people's eyes to the truth. I believe that BB is definitely one of the reasons why the truth has finally been coming out. No more hush hush.So for that I wanna say THANKS BB and keep up the great work

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    3. Can you let me know the difference between BONES and this one,BLOODLINES ? If there both the same, which one is better?

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    4. Goldcup, Thank you for the nice words. I am really so sorry about your brother. We have something in common, my brother was killed by narcos, but north of the border. There was a trial. His killer acquitted. witnesses scared off. The jury said they thought he was guilty but it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. My heart was broken. I was furious. My mother was never the same. DEP to our brothers.

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    5. Chivis and Goldcup, I am very sorry for the loss of your brothers.

      The language issue is often a barrier, too. There is not much accurate information in English at times. My Spanish is not that great anymore. So it helps to have credible information in English. Thanks for all that you do.

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  2. Definitely going to be a hell of a film, if done right.

    Great review and article*

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  3. Warning:

    Incoming comentary and analysis by internet keyboard "professors" of all things narco.

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    1. The Liberal Keyboard warrior armchair Generals. They are pretty pathetic. @10:55pm great comment. Who was that fat kid on here that was a Zeta fanboy/keyboard warrior? Someone posted a video of the kid here on the blog a while ago it was hilarious. I think it was screen name regio or something. When you see a keyboard warrior exposed they tend to be exactly what you would imagine. Kind of like a weak dilusional that attends Berkeley and attends Antifi protest. Darn why can the Narcos juts kidnap and use antifa mebers? They would be doing America a favor.

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    2. The fanboy was regioZ. Oh and watch out for the "tenured professors".

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    3. i tather read their coment than this usless one you just posted

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  4. Olympic Boxer Raúl Castañeda shot and killed in La Paz, BCS.

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  5. God is not drugs, death, terror and rhe detruction of our society through corruption and violence great entertainment indeed

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    1. Wish God would help Mexico. The pope tried but they didn't listen

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  6. His passion was part of his downfall!

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  7. I see everybody commenting on these smart drug dealers . Laundering money in a flashy enterprise is some dumb fuck shit . What kind of mentality does it take to not earn a legal dime and think you can hide this kind of money in race horses? Shit ! Cattle sheep goats even pigs but race horses ? There is a certain percentage reading this that don't get what im saying . If you don't understand , do yourself a favor and stick with you day job .

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    1. You are very right. It takes decades and ALOT of luck and money to burn to make it in the Horse race business. Because you probably are gonna LOSE ALOT OF MONEY BEFORE YOU EVEN SEE A RETURN.

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    2. No clue what you're talking about, but fortunately for me, my day job treats me just fine.

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    3. 1:56 DOPED UP HORSES ARE NOTHING NEW,
      Except for the likes of you and the people that got burned big time by los zates champion horses zll over mexico...

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    4. Corrupt government!

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  8. Wow, it's going to be a great movie. Great article!

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  9. Def will purchase, thanks for the link BB.

    These reviews are very useful to readers who I am sure, like me, have been burnt by fluff, uninformed Wikipedia-researched books

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  10. Hollywood is out of ideas. Having to use Mexican Narco life's now to write scripts. Hollywood is done. CDS is coming for Hollywood.

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    1. Cartel movies are always cool, Hollywood has yet to make a great one though, sicario was good but not great.

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    2. it is a subject that is interesting. it is a subject that is taboo. Tons of money, fast cars.. in this case horses. power. death.. cult status

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    3. wanna see great movie about the narco? see American Made for starters, starring religious cult brainwashed victim Tom Cruise, of course, Barry seasl was not a 'senor de los cielos' caliber propaganda creation, but he was much greater than any big fish the US government has ever caught...

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    4. Its about$$$$$. Hollywood uses the stuff.

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    5. With the growing popularity of corridos and large groups of Mexican American youth Hollywood caters to the masses

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    6. @ 1:49 I've always liked Carandiru and City of God. Both Brazilian movies about crime and the underworld. I highly recommend them 2 everyone here. Very powerful films. - Sol Prendido

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  11. Will the movie use the Zetas name and the Trevino family name. Most cartel movies use fake cartel names.

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  12. nice shout out to the narco "obsessive" borderland beat. it says much that a fbi newbie would go to bb as the source

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    1. yup! We are narco obsessed. But it is a project, meant to create a place that truth, deep and dirty is told. So educate. We are the obsessed ones.

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    2. 9:06 i am obsesed with La Chiva,
      not much else occupies me...
      thanks for coming Chivis!

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    3. And Addicted to the stuff

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    4. This blog is the best educational and entertaining of them all god bless chivis

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    5. Chivis, las mananitas make me remember you, because of the 'amapolita morada', si no estas enamorada enamorate de mi.

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  13. I bet Heriberto laszcano is not dead. Why would someone steal his body? Does not make sense just like el senor de los cielos. That guy was a bad mutha. I think he would have gone down like Rambo or scarface

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    1. snap out of it mijo! The way he "went down" wasn't good enough?

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    2. Hes dead thats why the zetas are splinter groups

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  14. reeks of the truth

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  15. You should make a documentary about the tamaulipas drug war. How it all started way back in the late 90s. In the past few days I been reading gun battles in tamaulipas. Most of them by the armed forces.

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    1. 11:50, raul salinas father of former president carlos salinas de gortari was a minister of commerce with adolfo lopez mateos, he started his trafficking with juan n guerra, big boss of trafficking from the US to mexico, but they was dealing in fake tequilas and TVs back then, like Pablo Escobar, and buying their goods on the US with mexican mariguana tombstones, back in the late 50sand early 60s, carlos salinas de gortari got his bones made waaay before the 90s and becoming "presidente"

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  16. What i would like to read is anecdotes about violence and sadism from these different characters, what their mentality was/is in specific situations. I read about how the young Rosalio Reta came to be a hitman and he said that he was taken to a ranch where he was introduced to a guy who was in the process of beheading two rivals - that guy happened to be Miguel Trevino Morales. He went on to say how Trevino was addicted to killing and also animals and that he emphasised that the animal should be looking graceful. Reta actually named horses as an example for this.

    I also read one particular recounting from someone fleeing or otherwise surviving a massacre in San Fernando saying that Miguel forced the kidnapped bus passengers to fight eachother one on one to death as gladiators. An old man pleaded for him to take all his money just don't hurt him/them and Miguel told him "alright leave" and when the man turn around to start walk away Miguel swung a bat on his knocking him down and continued to bang on it until it was completely destroyed. Articles would always claim how he was a exceptional sadist even by narco standards but it would never be more specific.

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    1. the monster killing machine attributed to Miguel was bogus. Rosalio (Bart) Reta is a liar to get his 15 mins. How any sane person could believe him tells me they don't like to dig deep. Prominent mexico media sites, such as El UNIVERSAL, have written articles dispelling the outrages tales, like boiling babies.

      Fact is miguel was not in charge of killings. the Zeta business model was split, 50-50 drugs vs enforcement. miguel was in charge of drugs, Lazca enforcement. makes sense since he was Special Forces for mexican army before founding Z's. He was highly trained in killing, supposedly in Israel and U.S. his violent killings earned him the name "El Verdugo".

      One thing I point to is that his best friend, the squirrel admitted to agents it was Lazca that ordered the killing of Lalo Moreira not Miguel. Even though it was revenge for the state police , GATE, killing Miguel's nephew in Piedras Negras. "Nephew for Nephew" .

      Another point, and the most important, when Miguel and omar were in charge after the killing of Lazca, what happened to the big killings? the showy displays? Gone.

      Until he and omar were arrested and their wacko killing machine, out of control nephew, Kiko, was in charge. they then resumed. He was the worse thing that happened to Zs. sometimes things get worse by "catching the capo".

      you are mixing up two massacres. one is reality, the other is hype. After SF massacres of migrants and two survived, miguel was reported by solid sources to have been livid. the next day the bodies of those who were the executioners of the 72 migrants, were tossed in SF with a message of apology. When the leader of the cell El Kilo was arrested he admitted that he went "beyond the orders of recruitment"...he flat out lied to kill.

      The rumored law of Zetas is "the penalty for screwing up a mission is death"

      This is not to say miguel was not a part of witnessing certain killings and torture, he is culpable, he what is out there is myth.Or that he is this angel, he simply was not the jultra violent one, Lazca was, take a look at their arrests and what went down, very differently.

      A cooperative told agents that one time, miguel took him, his good friend, to a narco camp where they were burning bodies. His friend by this time had been forced to cooperate with the U.S. agents, he was petrified, and did not want to. He had no choice. So shortly after this, the camp outing occurs and the guy fainted cold away, because he was sure that miguel knew what was up. when he came to, miguel is over him slapping him awake, laughing his ass off. at that point he did not know a thing.

      I wrote an article, a long one, on the trevinos and zetas etc if you are interested..
      http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2013/07/z40-aftermath-of-miguel-trevinos-arrest.html

      and an article outlining the mistake made in sf with the migrants told by zetas:

      http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2012/02/san-fernando-revisted.html

      sorry this is so long, I guess I thought I was writing a book :)

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    2. 6:00 miguel angel trevino morales had to be some real asshole to impress El Lazca, let's not just demonize the dead or the hidden...

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    3. Finally somebody who knows some what of Miguel trevino I've been saying the same thing for years on this site but everybody just wrote me off as a nuthugger lol... but one thing you got wrong is that kiko wasnt incharge after his uncles got arrested it was another nephew,kiko was just the one people assume was in charge because they didn't know more of their nephew's were in the buissnes, by that time kiko was already out

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  17. Absolutely love when BB posts books on here. I am one of the few people who still reads and when it comes to my favorite genre (Mexican cartels and drug war) I can never find anything. Good stuff!!

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  18. to the guy who "knows Reta" and thinks he is the bearer of all thing truthful. You say you are an old guy who hangs with "them". and him before prison I assume. You say we know nothing, and only get info from articles. I don't know you so I give you the benefit of the doubt, that you hang with lowlifes, thugs and gangbangers, and know the guy who paints his face. But I don't believe his BS, and that's my right. You don't know what we receive or who from. But that honestly doesn't bother me either. Truth be told, if we know so little why are you following us? I wish you would not.

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    1. Reta was a wanna be gangbanger who fucked up and turned himself in , he only got famous cuz of gangland , he was just a movoso who whrn the real shit hit the fan he got scared and ran to the us for protection

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    2. Ya reta was a nobody Miguel didn't even know him

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  19. Zetas bad dudes they kidnapped my wife. I probably will not watch the movie.

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    1. I'm so sorry, 5:00. I cannot imagine the pain of that.

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  20. Chivis, I just want to thank you for all of your efforts in researching and your awesome postings. Without folks like you and those you inspire, we as your followers would be so ignorant of what truly happens on the other side. My mom and dad were born in Piedras Negras (Colonia Victoria and Villa de Fuentes) and although my dad (80 y/old) and my mom (70 y/old) don't have family left over there, my mom stills goes every year to pass out clothes, shoes and candy that she collects here all year, they call her "La senora con los dulces gabachos". Reading BB daily as I do, I wish she wouldn't go over there, but she has been doing it for over 30 years and there aint no stopping her. Me, on the other hand, wouldn't go over there if you paid me. Don't even trip on the haters, cause there are plenty, like me, that get our candy from you.

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    1. Don't worry I don't trip on haters, it is all so strange to me. About your mom, I am sure her bringing joy to the people of PN warms her heart. She is a good person. My mother was the same. Loved to go to Sonora, Sinaloa to pass out stuff. She never lived long enough to see my work in Mex and C.A. but she led the way for sure.

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  21. I am sure she is looking down and saying "Esas es mija!!" to all of the other angels...

    JR from HP CA

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  22. I only look back here every now and then since Chivis left but I see tonight you have been commenting! This is just the spot i had to stop and comment too. I live in the us but my heart feels for you and my anger fuels when I come back to this website. some days i feel i have it so rough, like most of us living here, but i see we have no idea what that even means. its so hard to comprehend the situation at the border when you feel that each country's priority should be to protect their own. i hope and pray that it is understood that it doesn't mean there is no compassion. ultimately, higher forces will intervene to make things right in mexico, as well as, the whole planet earth. the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, etc. will soon see their slain loved ones again. drug cartels, terrorists, human traffickers, pedophiles, and any evil, scum that feels they can determine another persons fate, will forever burn. may all that have had their lives unjustly taken RIP. it is so unfair for us to have to live our lives in such an unjust, greedy, and corrupt world. it will be made right in the end.

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