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
emptywheel @cjewel I mean, after--what--6 years you might be allowed to take off early for the holiday? @TyreJim
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bmaz So, yeah, media stooges, maybe you want to roll with the known and proven liars, or maybe you should at least wait+be circumspect.
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emptywheel @bmaz I think the real story is NK caught James Clapper lying to them and NK is less willing to be lied to by him than US citizens.
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bmaz Remember, "US investigators" are proven liars and false statement felons such as James Clapper, Keith Alexander, and a host of AUSA's.
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emptywheel @TyreJim Who has a hearing the friday before vacation? @cjewel
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emptywheel @benwizner is it freedom of speech or protection of property? I mean, recognizing to Trump they are the same...
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bmaz Sure, maybe there's a chance it is right. But, yet, the blindered credulity US media gives "US Investigators" on "NK hack" is just stupid.
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emptywheel RT @bungdan: The unexpected hero of the Cuba-US thaw: Venezuela's Maduro. http://t.co/1K8xQaqKeG
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emptywheel @bmaz BTW, Gronk is on Top Chef tonight. Apparently contestants will be asked to cook a Big Sausage for him @kevinjonheller @armandodkos
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emptywheel @bmaz I might have to hijack again then. @kevinjonheller @armandodkos
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bmaz @emptywheel @kevinjonheller @armandodkos Pretty sure the one known as "Emptywheel" has forfeited her football trash rights through laches.
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