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No Mercy In Mexico: Fear And Sombra Said Story

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No Mercy In Mexico

No Mercy In Mexico: Shooters opened the doors of the Sol y Sombra discotheque in Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico, in September 2006 and tossed five human heads onto the dance floor.

The group left a handwritten statement at the scene, announcing the emergence of a new, breakaway drug cartel called La Familia Michoacana, then walked out as calmly as they had arrived, as horrified partygoers looked on.

It was a disturbing new level of savagery by the country’s drug traffickers, according to many. It made news all across the world.

Francisco Castellanos no Mercy in Mexico

No Mercy In Mexico

Francisco Castellanos is the Michoacan correspondent for the prestigious Mexican magazine Proceso. The 2006 beheadings, he believes, were a watershed moment in the conflict

The five were local Uruapan drug dealers,” he writes in an email from the troubled Pacific nation, adding that the hastily scrawled threat left at the crime scene spoke of “divine punishment.

It created a lot of panic and terror,” Mr Castellanos recalls, “and investors started to flee to more secure locations.

Coded assassinations

The cartels didn’t hack the heads off their victims in the 1990s, says Samuel Gonzalez Ruiz, a former UN Office on Drugs and Crime expert.

“They employed various murder codes that were more or less known among the perpetrators,” Mr Gonzalez Ruiz explains.

He recounts a well-known hitman who used the numerous methods he shot his victims to send forth messages.

For example, a bullet to the back of the head denoted the victim was a traitor, while a bullet to the temple showed he was a member of a rival gang.

Beheading is now a common practice used by Mexican drug cartels, particularly the Los Zetas criminal organisation and its two main competitors, the Gulf Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Radical Islamist groups like the ones that assassinated US journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and British civil engineer Kenneth Bigley in Iraq are known for using such a heinous method of execution.

The Death Cult | No Mercy in Mexico

But, as Mr Gonzalez Ruiz points out, the situation no Mercy in Mexico is much different. He claims that the practice originated in Guatemala

“The Zetas began expanding their reach into Central America in 2000, and they integrated members of the elite jungle squad, the Kaibiles, into their ranks.”

Since the country’s dirty war (1960-1996), the Kaibiles had been trained to use decapitation to threaten the local populace.

Others find ties to La Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, a religious sect prevalent among drug gangs.

Some observers have seen parallels between the Aztec and Mayan civilisations’ pre-Columbian human sacrifices.

Whatever its origins, the heinous practice is now part of Mexico’s drug gangs’ lexicon of violence. In terms of decapitations, this month has been particularly bad.

There have been an astonishing 81 beheaded bodies unearthed in the country in just ten days. Fourteen beheaded victims were discovered in Nuevo Laredo, directly across the border from Texas, in early May.

Last week, 18 bodies and decapitated heads were discovered in two minivans near Lake Chapala in western Mexico, a renowned tourist destination.

Finally, 49 headless and disfigured bodies were placed in plastic bags on the road near the industrial city of Monterrey, in one of the most horrifying events of its sort since the current drug war began. Intimidating civilians’ is a term used to describe the practice of intimidating citizens.

So, what are the cartels trying to achieve by slaughtering their victims in this manner, aside from the obvious? It was meant to send a clear message of fear and intimidation to the authorities.

Interior Minister Alejandro Poire claimed the day after the Monterrey atrocity that these “reprehensible acts” were intended to “sow dread among the civilian population and the authorities.”

The minister stated it was the consequence of a feud between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel before reaffirming the government’s offer of a large reward for information on the cartels’ leaders’ whereabouts.

The beheadings, however, had an obvious political dimension for Mr Gonzalez Ruiz, a former State Attorney on Organized Crime. He said, “The message is clear: we have no mercy and will do whatever it takes to control our area.”

Terrorist strategy’ is a term used to describe a tactic used by terrorists

He goes on to say that the timing is crucial, as it comes just six weeks before the country’s presidential election.

“It’s partially a message to the presidential contenders, who have all stated that they will not negotiate with drug gangs.”

However, it also sends a broader, more terrifying message of intimidation to ordinary citizens in towns like Monterrey.

Mr. Gonzalez Ruiz adopted a term that the administration has avoided using in relation to the country’s drug violence: terrorism.

“This strategy (of beheading the victims) can only be described as terroristic. It’s terrorism because it threatens the people, saying, “If you don’t let us control our illegal operation, we’ll do the same to you.”

Aside from the thinly veiled intimidation messages, the recent killings are a gruesome reminder of the cartels’ influence in Mexico and the lengths to which they are willing to go to maintain it.

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