Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juaarez

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

The Death of Francisco

The previous interview discusses how drug traffickers are investigated and arrested. But many traffickers suffer a worse fate, including some who cooperate with U.S. law-enforcement agencies. The poignant account of Francisco’s death, narrated by his brother, illustrates the devastating human toll taken by the drug war. In border communities like El Paso, the seductive allure and enticing financial appeal of a drugtrafficking life are hard to overestimate. Quick and easy drug money attracts thousands of people, especially the poor, but also members of working-class, middle-class, and well-to-do sectors. Francisco came from a solid Mexican immigrant family in El Paso that had achieved a version of the American Dream. Yet Francisco was a black sheep, and he lived for trouble and the pursuit of fast-money schemes.

Francisco initially made good profits in the drug business, which allowed him to significantly improve his family’s standard of living. Yet, as often happens, this prosperity did not endure. Francisco evidently began providing information to law-enforcement officials in exchange for money. Suddenly, what had appeared to be a cushy life turned into a nightmare. The Juaréz cartel suspected him of snitching—the punishment for which is death, according to the unwritten rules of the narcotrafficking business. The cartel lured Francisco to Juaréz and brutally murdered him.

In the course of this research, I have read accounts of thousands of drug killings in the Mexican press. That such cases occur regularly and have led to a desensitization of the public to drug atrocities, however, does nothing to lessen the trauma experienced by the victims and their loved ones and relatives. Francisco, like many government drug informants, was not well protected by the law-enforcement agency that

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