Outsourcing Drug War Disappearances to Mexico

The other day I asked whether the US was complicit in any of the hundreds of official disappearances and tens of thousands of other disappearances propagated in Mexico’s drug war.

Friday, Spiegel published an interesting profile of a former DEA officer, Salvador Martinez, who ended up going to prison for trying to have his cousin’s killer murdered.

And sure enough, he describes allowing this kind of violence — even encouraging it — to happen. He describes leaving his counterparts in Ciudad Juárez to conduct torture.

In one of his first assignments, which he carried out together with the Mexican police, he was there when a commandant arrested a dealer. The police led the prisoner to a house on the edge of town. The officer hauled the prisoner to the bathroom, put his head in the toilet and flushed three times, says Martinez. The prisoner remained silent. The officer put a plastic bag over the prisoner’s head. “Who paid you? Who paid you, cabrón?” he demanded. Then, to Martinez, he said: “Have you seen enough?”

When he got into his car to leave, Martinez watched in the rearview mirror as a Mexican police officer took a small rod out of his car trunk. Martinez had seen a rod like that before; it was an electric cattle prod.

And he describes identifying suspects for Mexican cops to disappear.

He arrested a Mexican that he knew was working in the middle management of a cartel. He had no proof; he just knew it. After three weeks on trial, the court had to let the manager go free. So Martinez told the Mexican commandant what that man looked like and when he would be freed. After he crossed the border, a black minibus on the Mexican side stopped beside him and took him away.

“Alright,” says Martinez, taking a deep breath. So far he has laughed a lot on his journey through the memories. But he tells the next chapter without looking up, describing operations that weren’t recorded in any files.

“A lot of people disappear in Mexico,” he says. “They are buried where no one will find them. Some are eaten by tigers and some by sharks. There are also big tanks with acid in them.” He pauses for a long time between the sentences.

“We didn’t manage to catch all the bad guys. In those cases, we gave the Mexicans their names and said, ‘Do what you need to do.’ The Mexicans made those people disappear.”

Now, this guy appears to have been arrested in 1999. That is, this violence precedes the more recent disappearances Human Rights Watch and others have been documenting (and Juárez, at least, seems to be turning around finally).

But none of this is surprising.

As more and more people talk about the disappearances happening in Mexico, in a war that exists largely because American consumers create the demand that drives the violence, we should be careful not to blame it all on the Mexicans. Because we’re not just letting it happen, we’re asking for it to happen in some cases.

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5 Responses to Outsourcing Drug War Disappearances to Mexico

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz Arizona driver's license doesn't meet federal requirements http://t.co/WzxpaJQ6t4 Another "benefit" of the lunatic fringe in AZ Legislature
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emptywheel Shorter Bibi: This regime has been in power for 36 years, but that hasn't stopped us from doing weapons deals with them in past.
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emptywheel Wait. Did Bibi just say Saudi Arabia is about to get nukes?
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emptywheel This is stage of speech where every line should be finished w/"like Israel" in same way all fortune cookie fortunes end "between the sheets"
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emptywheel Shorter Bibi: Imagine if a Middle Eastern country were hiding nuke facilities?!?!? That would be HORRIBLE. Such countries cannot be trusted!
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bmaz @Popehat @ggreenwald @jamesrbuk @blakehounshell He's also sought ability to use a whistleblower justification defense, but no path for that.
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emptywheel @AllThingsHLS No no no. That's Petraeus' hand slap, surely.
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emptywheel @AliWatkins As I said, poetry.
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emptywheel I'd find this speech more convincing if Bibi had brought his Wile E Coyote graphics.
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emptywheel Petraeus plea deal is a lot like bank deals. A hand slap. I wonder if he, too, will find a way to profit off it, like a bank?
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bmaz RT @adamsteinbaugh: Curt Schilling shames creeps who tweeted about his daughter: cool. Gets one suspended from public school: not cool. ht…
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emptywheel Shorter Bibi: Greatest danger in world is marriage of militant Islam w/nukes (except in the case of Pakistan, but no biggie).
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