Editors Note: Originally published May 20, 2012, this story is made from entirely true events. The names of course have all been changed. Even the the gang titles. But this story in many ways stands outside time, because not much has changed since the date of it’s first publication. In fact, it many ways it could be worse now. The people of Latin America and Mexico in the final equation are the only ones that can fix the problems in their countries, but as the “Giant of the North” The United States, we have a responsibility to watch how we step. And to be honest we have flattened much innocent humanity, many times unintentionally, and other times, sadly, purposefully.
‘El Silencio de los Pollitos” or “The Detainee”by Edgardo May 20th 2013
The detention center rises up from the desert chaparral like an alien mother ship touching down to accept the abject surrender of the pitiful humanoids. Glass front shining on an old military airfield; hiding from sight with humble signage, ensconced at the edge of nowhere where the rural slums and colonias finally end. White non-descript, but somehow all the more menacing with their tiny Homeland Security signs, the prison buses roar on by on a thoroughfare that is called on the border a molcajete road; named after the volcanic mortar and pestle that Mexicans use to grind spices, chiles, and herbs. In other words, pretty rough going. It will certainly grind up, or grind down, a vehicles suspension for sure.
In the small car are the mother of the detainee, her boyfriend, and a neighbor. Passports and identification are taken at the gate to be returned upon exiting, and soon the trio are walking through the corridors of detention, long and narrow, somewhat like a covered airport ramp or a movie theatre L shaped ramp. These corridors have small numbered and lettered courtrooms off to one side. It was a slow day, most were empty.
In immigration court the judge is the be all and end all of all the determinations that come out of that court, There are no jury trials; his only check and balance is the appeals court that can overrule him. No judge wants to be overruled and in essence be called stupid. It can also damage a career as well. The prosecutor has the right to appeal as well, as no double jeopardy is deemed to apply here. So, whatever the law says, the smart thing for the judge to do is go along not so much with the law, but what is coming down from on high. Also they are appointed by the Justice Department.
So it is not surprising that even given the fact that in over the 6 years some 60.000 Mexicans have lost their lives in the current drug war (according to the Mexican governments own estimates. Many other credible sources have estimated much higher) very few asylum applications have been approved for refugees from Mexico. The official policy of the current administration is to down play or ignore the narco insurgency in Mexico; It also happens to be the policy of the new Mexican administration, and the cartels as well. Since “Silence of the Lambs” is already taken, perhaps it could be named: “El Silencio de los Pollitos.” (The silence of the little chickens)
There are many “desaparecidos” or people who have just vanished in Mexico. There are reasons for this…What do you do with your victims when you are through with them? If no one can find your victim, well that solves the problem, especially if you have an official connection, and need to keep a squeaky clean image. Also bodies littering the street are bound to raise questions and questions are not good. And if there is no body, who’s to say any foul play occurred? They are not “victims” they are just “missing” So all parties to the conflict, various cartels and crime organizations. as well as the security forces, would many times rather “disappear” a problem person rather than leave a body on the street.
An exception would be if you want to strike terror into a population or opponent; then you can hang your victims from bridges, or leave their decapitated bodies in the gutter. The young man that the people in the small car were going to see did not want any of this to happen to him.
It was a good night, mucha gente, Saturday it was in Diego Negro and if there were any tardeadas or fiestas de los cumplianos, they were long over by 23 hundred hours. They came in like before, scowling and swaggering, but everyone kept dancing and doing whatever it was they were doing. If possible, it was better not to even look at the soldiers and bring attention to oneself, or risk having a glance or a look seem like a possible challenge to authority. Sometimes, it was just a theatrical visit, to let everyone know they were on the prowl, but this wasn’t one of those times. The soldados lined everyone up against the wall frisked the guys, went through the purses of the girls, drugs and knives were confiscated on the spot, the possessor was taken outside, fined of all the cash he had on hand, and was then let go. Perhaps the bar manager was late on his weekly mordida, or perhaps the reten (the company) needed some action. Or perhaps they were actually out to fight the panderillas and the contrabandistas. If so, it was a ham fisted approach that could only do more harm than good. To grab some gato at random, and intimidate and interrogate him for hours led nowhere the vast majority of the time; just down some rabbit trail or smoke hole. But this is the way it was done all over Mexico. Stake outs, wire tapping, infiltration of the gang structure, cultivating informants, and forensic evidence gathering, was not the bailiwick of the police, much less the army. Terror, death threats, beatings and torture were what they knew. And massive displays of force, and strutting around in all their new military toys.
There were two powerful cartels that had been battling over Diego Negro for the last 5 years. At one time they were allied, but not now. They were deadly rivals battling for control of plazas (cities or areas used for smuggling) all up and down the border. One was Los Tapatios, or Los Teos’s, and the other Los Haches or the Huapangos. All the nightclubs in Diego Negro belonged to one or the other. And when one gang gained the upper hand, all the bars would change ownership to that gang. The true owner could stay on sometimes as manager, sometimes not. It was a risky business.
So in this medium size border town, there were four main forces to reckon with., the least of all being the police, who had limited power and were cowed by the other three forces. Ever since the Haches hanged nine of them from the streetlamps Since then they have contented themselves with looking the other way. A certain percentage is allowed to work in more or less actual police functions. The others work for whatever cartel is in charge at the time, and everyone tries not to get killed. A full time job just in that.
The second force was the Military, who although the strongest force physically, were limited by hubris, bureaucracy, very limited intelligence gathering capability and corruption, not to mention the crippling burdensome centralized chain of command, that spit out orders and confusion, at times out of ignorance and incompetence, other times from occult reasons and secret alliances coming from Monterrey or Mexico City, or Washington D.C. or the local Capitan.
The by far most effective and commandeering of the players were the Tapatios and the Huapangos. The gangs had the most capable intelligence gathering, were better armed and financed than any local police by a long shot. The army was like a lumbering not too bright elephant that could be avoided and dealt with in numerous ways
This presents a complicated situation for the citizens of Diego Negro…Kind of like how it used to be in Las Vegas when it was run by various mobs, but much worse. In the nightclub and bar business that had close ties to the T’s and the Haches, there was a possibility of being not just an agent of one of these forces, but of working as well for not just one, but two, three and four criminal gangs. The police, the military, the Tapatios and the Huapangos. In essence becoming a quadruple agent. And there are some that would do just this… many a “dedo” or finger would give information to anyone for a price, in spite of all the dangers involved. The fact is that everyone was a double agent at least under duress and extreme duress.
So for a band manager who booked many a grupo into many a club, the finger of suspicion could always be raised.
A young punk in an army uniform jammed a large semi-auto under the detainee’s chin. He was moreno and sureno, maybe from Chiapas. not a day older than 18 and he was shaking with excitement. Either way with a gun to your head held by a calm hijo de la chingada madre or a scared young putito, a pistol jammed to your head is not a good thing, any time of day or night. This wasn’t the first time the detainee had been threatened, He’d been knocked around a bit before and bloodied up some, but now out came a black hood, that cut off all vision and was semi suffocating as well. And he was going God knows where, but wherever it was a half hour or so from the bar.
The detainee knew nothing of drugs and crime. He didn’t want to know that much. Managing the bands, doing some DJ work himself. provided a good living in Mexico and he was content. But when you don’t take a side in a war, all the sides can be against you. Especially in this war of greed and locura.
The army had learned many tricks over the years about interrogations, intimidation, torture, how to get false confessions, and so forth. They had a long tradition of fighting civilians, putting down peasant and student revolts, and had gathered a trove of oppressive techniques from the other Latin American Security Forces. Don’t forget the ever caring friend and benefactor to the north, America had over the course of only a decade or so, gone from advocating human rights, to advocating and practicing just the opposite. Top politicians and military had been schooled in the United States. “The School of the Americas.” They call it something else now. But only the name has changed.
A car stopped in front of him, three more cut off access to the left and right. He was in the sights of two pistols and two “cuernos de chiva” (Ak-47’s). This time it was the “Los Haches” When they go to the trouble of an all out “Levanton” like this, few come back.
The Detainee, against all odds did come back, The next day he crossed the Rio Bravo. Never would he see again the town of his birth. Diego Negro would become like a dream, but a dream that would haunt him the rest of his life. When the sunset fell on the stage of his dreams, The credits would flash and all the roles would reprise before and behind his dying eyes He would recall the loves of that life, and his youth and his home. That so long ago became no more.
Homeland Security runs Immigration now, and the politics of terror run Homeland Security. The rules are dictated by an agenda. Some see only the rules. And the visible agenda is only the cover story, and the real one hides forever from sight. Meanwhile, the asylum seekers look only to survive.
The collateral damage lies where it’s fallen
The great powers fight their wars on foreign soil
Los Huapangos, Los Teos, the predators and prey
Are the expendables. the super power takes the lion share
Rivers of blood may flow, but it will be only from the expendable ones
The parasite in time takes all and searches out a new host…
There is much more blood to drain.
We never knew you,we say
Go away, you are not our broken toy.
(But you are)
Cars and trucks packed with the detainees loved ones
Crawl along the desert shrub
The security overlords roll buses so many
They resemble yesteryears hell bound trains
War is good business
And omelets cry out for broken eggs
And so the band plays on
And the skinny one grows fat on souls
La Santa Muerte to the south
And the suits and dissemblers
They call the gringos tan cabron?
Listen well all above and all below
Because in his own time
The Devil will consume his own