The man who showed me how the drug trade works
You only need to get it once, and I got it from Jorge Aguirre Meza who was executed by drug thugs with AK-47s in front of his little girl in his front yard in Sinaloa state in 1997. He died more than a decade ago, but with his life and death showed me nothing would change in the drug business, not without a revolution in thinking and that hasn't happened.
He was a federal drug agent working from headquarters in Mexico City when he cracked a big case on the Arizona border, with suspects on both sides. He was excited, called his superiors and rushed back to the capital, expecting kudos and involvement with the team of agents that he assumed would take over the investigation and, he hoped, make wide-scale arrests, shutting down the tunnel he'd discovered and scoop up the evidence he'd compiled against individuals.
Instead, as he entered the attorney-general's office in DF, he met an army contact who told him he was in deep trouble - and he was. His boss told him to keep quiet, nothing was ever done, he realized his superiors wanted information about drug operations so they could demand bigger bribes from their cartel contacts, he quit and went back to his home state on the west coast to practice human rights law. He was an excellent contact for the short period before his assassination and I visited him a few times, met his family - notably a red-haired rirebrand of a daughter - and shared meals and laughs. When I wrote about his death in the Toronto Star (I was Latin America bureau chief based in Mexico City) the president's office called to express their condolences, as if the loss had been all mine and had nothing to do with Mexico and the war against drugs.
So I got it.
Since then, there have been a couple of drug czars arrested with great hoopla for working for the cartels - General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo and Noe Ramirez - but it's all just "seen it before" for me. Nobody's serious about cleaning it up and I can see why: for the corrupt, it's too lucrative; for the honest, it's too dangerous. People get killed for telling the truth.
* * *
Recent reports on human rights in Mexico:
Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada (see various links)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (no human rights reports by country but generic responses to questions from parliamentary committees. Thin gruel.)
* * *
Tomorrow, the Star wraps up a series on the hemispheric drug wars - "Lethal Connections" with a first link to the stories - that looks at social costs, fallout in Mexico as neighbour and NAFTA partner and the violence that kills innocents. I sought an interview with a Canadian official so I could report for readers on the government's perspective and concerns.
Peter Kent, Foreign Affairs minister of state, was not available.
* * *
Final posts on drug wars over the weekend.