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

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

A Young Smuggler and His Family

The loads were like a ticking time bomb that was being passed around, so you
had to get it out of your hands as soon as possible. You got it, took it to the
place, and got the fuck right out (“te salías de ahí a la chingada o te podían
chingar ahí mismo con la chingadera
”).
COMMENTS OF A YOUNG BORDER DRUG SMUGGLER, RECORDED BY UTEP
STUDENT A.S.

Much like the “poverty draft” that sends thousands of poor African American, Hispanic, and Anglo Americans into the U.S. military and the Iraq War, the common workers in the drug trade, such as Juan and Jorge, are largely poor people with few opportunities, not the glitzy drug barons celebrated or demonized in movies or television serials like Scarface, Traffic, Blow, or Kingpin. Instead, drug smuggling is a dangerous, unpredictable career that often leads to prison, death, or ruin. Lowlevel smugglers and other menial workers in the narco-world also suffer from their marginality, frequently low pay, and disposability at the bottom of drug-cartel operations. Their jobs are unstable and often shortterm. They may be busted, cheated, not paid, snitched on, or suspected of treachery and murdered.

The families of low-level drug traffickers both absorb the hardships and reap the benefits of a smuggling job. Families are also conduits into drug trafficking. Though his father is in prison for heroin and cocaine trafficking, the young smuggler had little interest in using drugs or any intention of becoming a trafficker. He had intelligence and academic ambitions. But when domestic and financial problems struck his family, drug smuggling provided needed revenue. The young smuggler entered the business through his mother, just as she had begun selling cocaine

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