Although official figures show that homicides have decreased in Sinaloa in recent years, the truth is that the disappeared have come to take their place. Most disappearances remain unpunished
By José Abraham Sanz / Northwest*
Part one of 3
Sinaloa– When they left that house in black work of the Colonia República Mexicana, south of Culiacán, they knew that that guy with the gun was a threat. "Well, it comes out, after a while it's done," he told them after Rafael refused to give him a piece of "ice" on credit, as methamphetamine is known in Sinaloa.
Rafael had already been selling drugs for a couple of years, and together with Miguel, his friend and his companion, they knew that that guy was encouraged to pull the trigger at the slightest provocation. They had heard that he was out of control and that he had killed for debts of 500 pesos.
“Days before he had killed a guy there in front of the house. We left, turning to the front, and the guy laughing at us, because we already knew he was getting excited”, remembers Miguel. The first thing that crossed their minds was to beat him, but that was something they had never done. "And that's when we went to look for Ceferino."
Ceferino was a friend of his who had worked for drug trafficking since its origins in the Badiraguato mountains, but who had "become a government", since at that time he was in the Ministerial Police under the command of Jesús Antonio Aguilar Íñiguez during the six-year term of the Governor Juan Millán Lizárraga, a police officer who was accused by the Federation of having links with the Sinaloa mafia, until his death from covid-19 in early 2020.
They went to tell him about the “fart”, because they were sure that Ceferino “could also do it” and could make them stop “quickly”, although his intention, more than anything, was to ask him for a gun.
“(We were) in the patio, in that house things were like that (they talked) even back, because he had only daughters, and his wife; so when he talked about things like that he would go back. Well, already there in the patio he already told us how the fart was: no, you don't... if they kill him with bullets, it's going to be a fight... it could cause a fight against them, well, that they thought the fight was against them ", points out.
“Then this guy said: well, hit him hard, run over him, beat him up or let's see how they do it… and they get out and run over him with the car,” he relates.
But the way to solve problems of this type in Sinaloa seems to have changed because of what happened right after in this piece of the story of Rafael and Miguel: the same people who employed that hitman had to take over.
“…And well, maybe that is where God comes in, because… it lasted one more day and the next day it disappeared; we knew they had picked him up, but he never showed up anymore.”
Disobeying, looking bad or owing the boss, which is not forgiven in the mafia
Juanito (whose identity is also protected) is 49 years old, but he looks like 70. These days he works as a night watchman, so he can continue to avoid his family's expenses and his addiction to crystal.
Whoever is close to him sometimes hears him play the guitar and sing; he has impressed them with his ability to learn to play other instruments empirically. He says that his ear and musical ability runs in his family.
“I watched them and well I liked it, so when they were going to play I also went and I started going and I also gave it my way, nobody taught me anymore, like that by ear… I had a little ensemble, but it fell apart because they killed people.
—Because of fights over there, from the ranch; So what can I tell you, for things, that the plants, that the cattle got into some (fields) and so on.
One of his brothers played the accordion, another the violin and a cousin the tololoche. He is from La Sávila, a town located in the Sierra de Badiraguato where he grew up without going to school.
In the mid-1980s, a compa came to propose a jale, which was nothing more than planting marijuana. He remembers that he received a payment of about 3 thousand pesos. He was 22 years old: "... well, it was always about 300 thousand pesos right now, because I bought a car with the money and I had left over," he says.
“We planted, watered the marijuana, so that it was, since it was… to bring people to start picking it.” The business turned out in the best way for everyone, so much so that they were invited to do the same, but in Caborca, Sonora, where they harvested up to 70 tons. They lasted a year and two months upstairs and only went down to the town for basic things.
Then they went to San Blas, Nayarit, then to Michoacán, and began traveling through another half dozen states with mountainous areas and conditions for growing and harvesting marijuana.
"Did you ever have problems with the Army?"
—No, because they paid a fee.
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"Do you know how much they would pay?"
—No, well, I don't know, they didn't notify us, because they, the people in charge, took care of that. We were pure sowers.
"Then the Army didn't fall upstairs for you?"
—Not the law, the assholes did turn, upstairs. I would turn around once or twice and they would go away.
Juanito decided to get married at the age of 27, he migrated to Culiacán and decided to start selling marijuana, it was the beginning of the 90s. He does not remember how much he sold daily, but the truth is that he did not do the math. "Because he took the money and spent it," he notes.
When I ask him if he had many clients, he smiles: many, yes, many. They queued sometimes.
The situation with the Police was not the same as today, there were fewer, and he could also get rid of them for a thousand or 3 thousand pesos, depending on who he grabbed them.
The marijuana that Juanito brought was from Cosalá, from where a cousin of his had prepared a plot of land to harvest. He himself would go by truck to the mountains, and in backpacks and suitcases in the regional truck, he would come down with the grass. "There we took risks," he says. He was arrested once, but thanks to a friend he was able to pay a few thousand pesos and was released.
“But since I kept selling, they screwed me over again and I already paid for five years. I left in 2012, it was in 2005 when they caught me, ”he points out.
At that time, Juanito bought 2 or 3 kilos, each one for 500 pesos, and from each one he made profits of at least 3 thousand pesos or even more.
"Yes, many, many sold, it still wasn't as it is now, well," he highlights. "I was free then, and now I'm not, well now just a few... that's why we stop selling, we don't sell anything anymore."
"How long ago did it change?"
About 10 years ago, around there, about 10 years. They no longer let sell (free).
"What happens if you sell?"
No, well, if you buy and sell, they pick it up, hurt it, let's see where they got it, because it's another “big thing” now, they don't let anyone sell, except theirs.
It's getting into fights, that you look bad with the boss, that they owe you drugs and look bad with him. There are times when they don't pay you and that's where the problems come from.
After hearing his last answer, I ask Juanito, can they kill you? He smiles and then gives me a long “yes”. “Sometimes they forgive… but no, those things don't forgive her,” he adds.
*A report from Noroeste as part of the MasterLAB of Fifth Element Lab @quintoelab
This content is published by La Verdad with permission from Noroeste. See original here.
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