Vanity Fair profiles The eXile: "Gutsy...visceral...serious journalism...abusive, defamatory...poignant...paranoid...and right!"
MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
www.exiledonline.com
Pancho Montana

The eXiled’s Special Drug War Correspondent

MONTERREY, MEXICO–This is the longest time that I’ve been AWOL from The Exiled. Sure I’ve never been perfect about delivering regular on-time dispatches, but since 2008, I’d at least file a couple of articles every month or so. And the strange thing is that every time I stop writing, or every time I forget to answer emails, everyone asks me if I’m still alive, how am I doing, how many bullet holes I’m nursing… It’s strange because things have been pretty uneventful here. People write to me as if I’m living in 1999 Kosovo, but everything is the same. And when I say “same” I mean the exactly the SAME. As in, we’re no better today than a year ago, or two years ago, or three, four, five years ago. (more…)

Continue Reading

Posted: September 30th, 2011

The eXiled’s special Drug War Correspondent

MONTERREY, NUEVO LEÓN–I just learned that a friend of mine got his human rights violated by the Mexican army, when he was grabbed off the street by a couple of soldiers, thrown into some dirty room, tied to a chair, stripped of his clothes and interrogated with the help of a friendly blowtorch. The soldiers waved the flame close enough to his naked torso that, by the time they were through, it looked like a blackened rack of BBQed ribs. All that was missing was the BBQ sauce. (more…)

Continue Reading

Posted: May 18th, 2011

dead ice agent mexico

The eXiled’s special Drug War Correspondent

MONTERREY, NUEVO LEÓN–While meeting Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon at the White House today, Barack Obama is expected to discuss the idea of letting armed US agents operate on Mexican territory. You know, to help us deal with our deadly drug violence. Boy oh boy do we Mexicans feel safe now!

I wonder if the idea to put US troops on Mexican soil has anything to with a recent trip by a few ICE agents into Northern Mexico that ended with one dead, one injured and one SUV turned to swiss cheese?

(more…)

Posted: March 3rd, 2011

cartel_diagram_zetas1

This brutal video, which just came out, pretty much speaks for itself…that is, if you can understand Spanish. If not, I’ll explain it to you so you understand what’s going on. It was filmed in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and it shows various Gulf Cartel sicarios (assassins) posing with two decapitated Zetas who were supposedly part of cell run by a guy called  “The Guide.” In the video, not only do they issue some pretty gruesome threats against two powerful leaders of the Zetas–Miguel Treviño (aka “Z-40″) and Heriberto Lazcano (aka “Z-3″)–but, well, it’s also kind of funny. (more…)

Posted: February 14th, 2011

zeta allende 21JAN2011

The eXiled’s special Drug War Correspondent

MONTERREY, NUEVO LEÓN–Here we go again, a new year and a fresh new wave of narco-war porn to go along with it.

If you’ve been paying close attention to the drug war in Monterrey (and if you’re reading this you must have) you will have noticed that the new year has only meant more violence, more drugs and more black SUVs shooting it out in the streets, 3-sided full-bore firefights between rival narco gangs and the army, pretty much like a Michael Bay movie.

Life in Monterrey right now is like living in the set of Bad Boys 2. Non-stop car-chases and multiple shootouts, but no point to it, no reason for the apparently  random, senseless violence. Shit, MTV should make a reality show based on Monterrey or even better, a “Tampico Shores” show, only in this version we get to watch the entire cast having their bodies dissolved in acid.

That’s what it looks like from here, anyway. But I´ve come to figuring out how to follow this mess and make some sense of the violence. (more…)

Posted: February 1st, 2011

The Z is for Zeta

The “Z” is for “Zetas”

It’s been a long, long time since my last article, but believe me it’s not because there hasn’t been any news. If anything, it’s because too much has been happening too fast to really explain the situation―even by Mexico’s Drug War standards, the news here is a fast-moving target and getting faster―and bloodier―by the day. I haven’t been able to finish a fucking paragraph without some new and bigger development changing the game.

If you’ve been paying attention to Monterrey’s drug wars (that’s my beat), then you probably heard about how there are roadblocks all over the city, and how there’s a kind of civil war going on, pitting the Gulf Cartel against their former armed wing, Los Zetas. And while it’s true that this mostly accounts for all the recent carnage, to understand the recent dark turn of events, you have to backtrack a bit. (more…)

Posted: November 1st, 2010

El_Tori.esp_milenio

This afternoon the bullets were once again flying over my city, as Mexican Army soldiers captured the JEFE DE PLAZA of the Zetas in Monterrey Héctor Luna “El Tori” (short for Hector), along with other collaborators in an operation in the city’s northeastern sector. (more…)

Posted: June 9th, 2010

Here’s some (graphic) proof that the Zetas are using Maras (a gang better known in America as MS-13) as shock troops in their fight for the plazas of Tamaulipas—not because they are good, but because they are cheap and there’s lots of them in Tabasco and Chiapas, states that still have a strong Zetas presence that hasn’t really been contested like in the north. (more…)

Posted: April 23rd, 2010

mexican-army-1

Hey there drug war fans, I got some statistics to throw your way. While you gringos pay attention to the unemployment rate and foreclosure statistics, we here in Mexico track the national kill count—how many people died, who suffered the losses and where the action went down. The latest numbers were just released: they are compiled by the federal government, so they are not 100% accurate. For starters, the body count should be higher. But hey, with over 20,000 dead, the situation looks bad enough to me, whether they fudged the numbers or not. (more…)

Posted: April 14th, 2010

Bloody Mess Acapulco

How about this eXtra Hot Spring Break update: In Acapulco, the shit just got burning hot  again last week, with more than 30 people killed in less than 12 hours. I’ll do a proper update a little later. In the meantime, you can read a lame BBC write-up of this gorefest and then feast your gringo eyes on a bloody photo essay (capturing recent drug war news from all over Mexico). (more…)

Posted: March 22nd, 2010

mty-tema-02

I told you I’d be updating the situation if it got hot, so here I am, because some heavy shit went down yesterday, when the army ran into the Zetas north of Monterrey. I don’t think that any of your newspapers have covered this yet, so here’s the quick skinny:

• The main shoot out took place at 11:30 a.m. in Anahuac, north of Monterrey and about 50 miles from the Texas border. Six SUVs with tinted windows ran into an army convoy and started blasting away, killing two soldiers. The soldiers responded by killing eight of the sicarios (it could be six because on the news, they’re reporting that two of the bodies were rescued by their homeboys). According to eyewitness accounts, the Zetas were heavily armed and were responsible for starting the hostilities, leaning out of their cars and spraying soldiers with AK-47s and R-15s. Two soldiers were badly wounded and were flown to Mexico City to receive medical attention, but one of them died en route. (more…)

Posted: March 4th, 2010

anti-zetas narco-banner

So there are these narco-banners being hung up all around the metropolitan areas of San Pedro, Monterrey, Escobedo and San Nicolas. If you don’t read Spanish, here’s a rough translation:

Mr. Felipe Calderon [that's our president]:

With all the respect you deserve, stop helping us. Poison is fought with poison itself.

Attention: The alliance of Mexican cartels united against the “Z” [Zetas] will continue after you RETIRE THE ARMY [pull troops off the street].

(more…)

Posted: March 3rd, 2010

zetas

“Raise your hand if you like weed,” the gang leader asked the raver crowd. But nobody raised a hand or so much as moved. They were too scared. So he repeated his question, this time while firing a quick burst from his R-15 into the air. ”I said who likes fucking weed?!!” Naturally, a lot of hands went up.

MONTERREY, MEXICO— La Letra (what we call the Zetas these days because we’re too terrified to call them by name) is at it again. It’s getting worse than ever, thanks the lower ranks of the cartel business–made up of young, impressionable school dropouts and assorted jobless little motherfuckers. Now, these scumbags are letting their presence be known like never before. In Monterrey, the Zetas have started using them to police the drug use of the general population to make sure that people are consuming the right drugs and buying them from the “right sources.” As in: them. (more…)

Posted: February 28th, 2010

1191115818_4a41e08459_b

OK, so after taking some time off, courtesy of me moving back to the fucking stone age to a house with no internet or cable, I’m going to try and write on a little more regular basis. This time, I’m not going to tell you about narco-trafficking activities in some far-away Mexican city, but something a little more personal and close-to-home for some of my American readers.

So I give you: the immigration rant. (more…)

Posted: January 5th, 2010

Don Arturo

On December 16th in the town of Cuernavaca, Mexican armed forced cornered and killed Don Arturo Beltran Leyva, the country’s most powerful drug boss and one of the top three capos of the trade. Some people still don’t believe he is dead, some do, but all agree that it’s going to unleash a shitstorm. He’s a mythical figure among his people, but Americans have no idea who he is. So allow me the honor to introduce you to the man and the legend of Don Arturo Beltran Leyva.

In Mexico, if you call someone “Don,” it means you respect him to the extreme, and even fear him. You’d be more than justified in using the title when referring to the “jefe de jefes” of the Mexican drug trade. Don Arturo Beltra Levya was without exaggeration the most powerful boss in the country. He had more power than Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the drug cartel boss who was listed as Fobes’ #701 richest man of 2009. In Mexico, you won’t hear anyone referring to him as “Don Joaquin.” (more…)

Posted: December 28th, 2009

img-412

Quick dispatch with some groundbreaking news: Mexican marines shot it out with Arturo Beltran Leyva and his bodyguards in some luxury mall/department store in Cuernavaca, about 50 miles south of Mexico city. Unreal. The shootout—caught on tape—happened in the middle of the night on the streets of the city. This episode has the possibility of bringing a lot of violence, with the reacomodos (what we call when the bloody realignment of power happens) and all fights for control of the plazas. (more…)

Posted: December 17th, 2009

mexican drug war

MONTERREY, MEXICO — Another day, another shootout. Forget about the tropical storm that hit the Pacific just now, it’s raining bullets in this biatch.

It seems that every day there is another firefight in this or that part of the city, and frankly I’m getting sick of it. Every day, a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s tiring, exhausting—that’s what the drug war is beginning to feel like. A drag, kinda like the Iraq war for you gringos. (more…)

Posted: October 29th, 2009

El Drug War

Hello there! Hola to the few who still check out this column to learn about crazy antics of America’s favorite suppliers. Yeah, I know I haven’t been updating you for a while on account that I’m getting lazy (weed ain’t exactly speed, neither is Rohypnol). And I don’t have much of an excuse since I’m unemployed and have a lot of free time on my hands, time which I spend doing everything but writing…

To be completely honest, I kinda lost interest in the whole Drug War. It became like watching a re-run of a sitcom you kinda like. Watch it long enough and you’ll start hating it little by little, because it always more of the same plot and punch lines: A big gunfight in Guerrero, another decapitation in Chihuahua, the biggest drug lab ever busted in Michoacan (and then a few days later an even bigger one is busted) or the detention of a “big” capo in Tijuana. Same ol’, same ol’. (more…)

Posted: August 14th, 2009

drug-war

Ok, so it’s been a while since the last update to this column. It is not that I’ve been THAT busy, I’ve just been a victim of my own laziness (I suspect it’s related to my pill and smoke habit certainly, not that I’m complaining). And since I no longer have a job, I’ve been having to go back to find old ways of making money in order to pay for my fucking Nextel bill and my other assorted expenses.

And to be honest there wasn’t really much to write about. The drug war, at least here in Monterrey, has been losing wind for a while. All the high profile detentions deflated it like a balloon of heroin that popped in some poor mule’s stomach. (more…)

Posted: July 15th, 2009

swine flu babes

I’d pork these fine swine flu mamacitas, the pandemic be damned

MONTERREY, MEXICO — I’ve been meaning to do a dispatch on the Swine Flu ever since the “epidemic” broke out, but I have been too busy working and scoring some good shit to smoke in my free time. The drought is on this time of year, and almost all the goddamn weed in the city is dry, dusty and tastes like shit. There is nothing worse for a true pothead than to have to smoke shitty weed.

As far as the Swine Flu goes, people will look back and remember the pandemic as a random memory, a wacky story for the grandchildren. Maybe you’ll see street vendors selling “I went to Mexico and all I got was influenza” t-shirts to drunken college students in Cancun. Pretty funny, but it ain’t true. I don’t know a single person who got the flu. In fact, I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone that got the flu. That’s pandemic for you. (more…)

Posted: May 28th, 2009

Hector Huerta Rios

While news out of Mexico is being totally dominated by the Swine Flu scare—anything is better than the constant Drug War news, right?—I’m gonna go about a month back in time to tell you about the some of the high profile arrests that have been taking place.

Today I’ll tell you about the capture of Hector Huerta Rios, a.k.a. “La Burra” or “El Junior.” He is (now was) one of the 37 most wanted narcos in Mexico. (more…)

Posted: April 28th, 2009

Tablazo

Here’s an entertaining/instructional cellphone video that shows one of the Zetas’ more preferred torture methods in action. It is called the tablazo. I wrote about it a few months back:

It comes from the word “tabla,” or “board.” The kidnappers usually have this specially crafted wooden board, a two-by-four with a handle for grip and holes drilled into the main body for less wind resistance. They drop your trousers, bend you over and hit you continuously with the wooden board till your ass turns to purple mush and you are left looking like some diseased red-assed baboon. (The cops here like to use the tablazo, too.)

(more…)

Posted: March 31st, 2009

El Canicon

MONTERREY, MEXICO — I woke up the other day and started the morning off just like I do every normal day: by sitting on a bench in my front yard, reading the newspaper and toking. There’s a saying in Mexico that goes: “Un churro al dia es la llave de la alegria,” which roughly translates to: “one joint per day is the key to happiness.” It’s supposed to rhyme and all that, but the poetry got lost in the translation.

Well, I was doing that when, suddenly, one of my friends calls me on my NexTel and says: “Hey, you heard who they caught?” and before I could guess that it was the son of “El Mayo” Zambada in Mexico City, he blurts out: “They grabbed El Canicon cabron!” (more…)

Posted: March 24th, 2009

08chertoff600

It’s getting hot here in Monterrey, and if you’ve been reading my column lately, you know I’m not talking about the weather.

Remember about the surge of military presence in the state I wrote about? Well I got to witness it first-hand and it’s not pretty. It’s one thing to see Army convoys driving around town, but it’s a whole other, much scarier, thing to see them on foot patrol right in your neighborhood, making rounds past your house, questioning your neighbors. (more…)

Posted: March 6th, 2009

mexican-travel-advisory

I saw that the US government posted an “extreme warning” travel advisory about Mexico last week and wanted to weigh in on the bullshit.

If you’re traveling to Culiacan or Acapulco, or any major Mexican city for that matter, you have to expect to see some fireworks. It’s like watching a volcano eruption in one of those yuppie-eco-tourism-shit-vacation-type trips some of you drug-taking progressives in America like to take. So when you see it you can’t help but stare in awe. (more…)

Posted: February 26th, 2009