By Charlie Gillis - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
Gangs target financially successful families in the country’s ongoing drug war
In Mexico, Daniel Balcorta had it good. Three cars, a house with a pool, lavish meals at Cancun’s top restaurants—such were the perks of a successful realtor selling beachfront on the Yucatan coastline. A former professional soccer player, Balcorta had paired minor celebrity with a strong grasp of Internet commerce, and developed a thriving business catering to well-heeled snowbirds from the U.S. and Canada. “I even had a private jet I’d rent to fly around my clients viewing properties,” says the 34-year-old ruefully. “We lived a very comfortable life.”
One call to his cellphone would change that. It was Aug. 14, 2009, and the man with the raspy voice on the other end introduced himself as a representative of “the Company”—gangster-speak for Los Zetas, a notorious criminal cartel known throughout Mexico for drug trafficking and extortion. The time had come for Balcorta to pay, the man said, and the price was 500,000 pesos (about $50,000). “You must have the wrong person,” Balcorta responded, and he promptly hung up.
But the man called back, and thus began a month-long nightmare during which the gangsters called Balcorta and his wife, Maria, no less than 10 times demanding they pay up or else. When the Balcortas stopped answering, the gangsters left voice mails threatening their lives and those of their children, aged 5 and 2. On Aug. 17, Maria took a call at the house in which a man told her the Zetas would kill Balcorta “or a member of your family” unless she persuaded her husband to co-operate. They complained to police—twice—but the calls kept coming. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:01 AM - 0 Comments
In recent weeks, it seems, adulterated ecstasy (MDMA) has left Alberta and B.C. with a sizable heap of young corpses. A tragedy has thus come home to roost in the West: namely, the tragedy of policy that incentivizes adulteration of drugs that, if manufactured in the open and checked for purity, would kill hardly anybody. Pure MDMA has a larger “therapeutic index”—a wider safety margin for overdose—than alcohol. It would probably make a pretty reasonable substitute for alcohol in many settings if we were to sit down and rebuild a drug culture from scratch. But over the past ten years or so, both Liberal and Conservative governments have worked to increase penalties for and monitoring of the flow of “precursor chemicals” used in the manufacture of MDMA.
It has been their goal to make pure MDMA more difficult to manufacture; when precursors are seized it is hailed as a triumph. But illicit drug factories never do put out the follow-up press release announcing that they’re putting less MDMA in their “ecstasy” and replacing it with other party drugs that have much smaller safety margins, or with drugs that interact dangerously with MDMA. And when rave kids die as a result, the RCMP chooses not to pose imperiously alongside the body bags giving a big thumbs-up. They are eager to take credit only for the immediately visible results of their work. Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
More than 400 bodies have recently been unearthed in northern Mexico
A new practice has emerged that raises the bar for twisted cruelty in Mexico’s bloody drug wars, where beheadings, hangings and shootings are regular occurrences. The Zetas drug cartel is reportedly pitting kidnap victims against each other in gladiator-style battles to the death. The revelation comes from a drug trafficker speaking anonymously in Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle. The trafficker reportedly described how Zetas gang members storm highway buses, kill the elderly, rape the women, and force the able-bodied men to fight in their blood sport. Armed with machetes, hammers or sticks, these victims are forced to fight until one of them is killed, said the trafficker.
The practice has been linked to the discovery of mass graves in northern Mexico, where over 400 bodies have been unearthed in recent months. Meanwhile, 33 people were killed during a 24-hour span in June in the city of Monterrey, where gangs battle for control of drug traffic. Since 2006, more than 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug war.