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Dispatch / The Mexican Drug War / February 3, 2009
By Pancho Montana

One day they grabbed him and put him into a truck. When he heard them say they were taking him to a police station for identification, he suddenly felt relief. After arriving at the parking lot, a narc detective got into the back seat with him and started asking him some questions to verify his identity, all the while slapping him upside the head.

After a while, the cop confirmed that Ce was not the one they were looking for. But there was a catch. It seems Ce has an “interesting” criminal record linked to some drug dudes his kidnappers didn’t really like, so they decided to keep him and maybe get a ransom. They put in all that work, so why not get paid for it?

After the police station, he was taken back to another safe house. He told me that everyone else kidnapped inside along with him lasted only from 5 to 10 days before they keeled over. They kept him for 22 days. When he arrived at the new house, his new hosts received him with a brutal beating. But the beatings stopped mattering that much. Ce said that being beaten was the only way he’d be able to fall asleep. Sometimes, he even asked his handlers to knock him out in order to get some shuteye.

At some point near the end of his stay, he was given a NexTel radio and listened to someone threaten to kill him if he reported anything. That was his final warning. After that, he was told that his bro paid the ransom. Ce was a free man, and while he waited for a drop-off car to pick him up, he played Xbox with the dudes who were beating him senseless just a few hours before (it was four-player FIFA soccer if you’re curious). “Hey vato, it’s just beeezness.” Maybe that’s what the Iraqis needed to calm them down in Abu Ghraib.

There’s another weird success story that happened to another guy I barely know, a fat guy, a friend of a friend. He actually managed to escape. (Remember, the success stories are the only ones you can tell. Dissolved corpses don’t talk.) This guy was kept in a safe house by some zetas close to where I live. Being zetas, they beat him up, never fed him and performed the usual fucked-up things we all have come to expect from these upstanding citizens of the narco trade. As kidnapping stories go, this one was pretty common, yet there was a small, but riveting twist. A few day before he fled, the zetas wanted to feed him some raw meat. After serving him, they informed him that the hunk of meat was just sliced off his friend. He protested. But they insisted: “Sure it’s your buddy, but you should eat it just the same. We’re gonna kill you anyway.”

That’s when his survival instinct started kicking in. He started memorizing the routines and schedules of everyone working in the house. He waited for his opportunity and when the only vato in the house at that moment fell asleep, he got up and — god knows how he managed to — opened the door and fled to safety with the help of a taxi.

Just picture that for a second… A bloodied naked man with a huge beer-belly hanging out, obvious signs of torture, electrical tape, bruises and cuts all over his face, head and body, hand-cuffed… running out onto a dusty road trying to catch a taxi. You don’t need Hollywood movies out here. We get this shit everyday, and it usually does not have a happy Hollywood ending. But this guy did. He’s one lucky motherfucker.

Pancho Montana is an eXiled Special Mexican War on Drugs Correspondent. As a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, located in northern Mexico, Mr. Montana lives in Gulf Cartel territory. That means the streets belong to the Zetas, a paramilitary organization trained by the Yankees and hired by the Gulf Cartel to keep things civilized and business booming. His first dispatch was about neighborhood drug stores called “tienditas.” They’re sort of like your local Rite Aid, but they don’t carry any Tylenol.

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  • 1. mudlark  |  February 3rd, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    OK… sorry to expose my gringo ignorance here, but what has Ce done for *revenge* since his ordeal?

    Even if he can’t locate one of the specific individuals involved in his kidnapping, couldn’t he find a surrogate and exact his revenge on them? An unrelated kidnapper, a random narco cop, there have to be plenty of candidates.

    I’m not talking about taking any internet-tough-guy action here, no confrontation or nothing. Just pick your target-of-revenge and murderize ’em in the most cowardly, safe way you can find, and be sure to leave a (very anonymous) note on the body so people know why it had to happen.

    I just can’t understand how a person can go through this sort of ordeal without seeking revenge. Clearly SOMEONE has to die, even if it’s just the nephew of one of the guys that did the beating. It seems weird that Mexicans would be so psychologically alien from the rest of the masculine world in this respect.

  • 2. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 4:35 am

    no revenge, it was business as usual.
    You have to understand that we see kidnappings as a part of the life, you cant hold a grudge because maybe next time youll be at the other side of the table, so to speak.
    So Ce dindt get revenge per se, but in Mexico its just a matter of time before justice is served, everyone that deserves it gets it, its a cycle, if soldiers dont capture him and throw him into the middle of the ocean then he would surely get it while shootin it out with a rival cell or maybe he becomes a levantado himself and if you have seen youtube you know they give them their 15 minutes.
    Revenge? No, time and trade will take care of it, its very possible that half the people involved are dead and the rest in prison.

  • 3. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 4:38 am

    revenge is personal, this was business, its got nothing to do with “masculinity”.
    If you are doing illegal activities you have to expect consequences, right?
    you gringos expect being taken by cops, here we expect masked vatos instead of boys in blue.
    its a matter of culture, Mexico is not the US.

  • 4. zip  |  February 4th, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Revenge, dude you need to stop watching all those fake action flicks. He got out in one piece, and he’s out smoking weed and banging chicks, so what’s to expect, this guy and some buddies going AK and frags against dudes affiliated with a drug cartel? for what? to get dissolved on acid some weeks later? That survival out there, personal revenge is for lame flicks, Chechen’s (the few still alive that is) and other rustics.

  • 5. Scandinavian dude  |  February 4th, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Disgusting. You sure are a bunch of monkeys down there. We don’t have apeman stuff like that here in the Scandinavian countries.

  • 6. Tinner  |  February 4th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    “Scandinavian dude”: fjöl av din sillmjölke och sluta bete dig some en ITT

    Second: the trick I guess is to avoid the bigger cities from someone like me that just wants to have some drinks and women.
    But yeah I doubt someone that lives there has much of a choice.

    Great article btw, a bit dry but the concise content is what I like.

  • 7. aleke  |  February 4th, 2009 at 8:38 am

    No, Scandinavian life is boring and safe for the present time.

  • 8. aleke  |  February 4th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Anyway, you guys must have not read Dolan’s pain article in the old Exile. You would know all pain is personal. It’s usually not ‘just business’ for our nervous system.

  • 9. Mario  |  February 4th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    if in Mexico the police is so fucked up, why the government don’t just put it out and estabilish martial law ?

  • 10. TL  |  February 4th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Of course you don’t ‘Scandinavian dude’

    What you have is deranged sociopaths that would push a girl in front of a moving bus. Which is exactly what happened a while ago in the city I live in here in Sweden.

    Why would anybody do that in such a nice environment is beyond me but there you have it.

  • 11. Baked Dr. Luny  |  February 4th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Hey Scandinavian dude, did you ever hear of the vikings? People are the same everywhere, some are just lucky enough to be in a situation where they don’t have to deal with much violence.

    @Mario: If they got rid of the police and declared martial law it would be the army that gets corrupted, it already is to some extent. Would you rather have a police force in collusion with the cartels or an army in their pocket?

  • 12. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    exactly zip…just what I wanted to get through
    you get kidnapped..shits thats life, move on

  • 13. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    and some goverment officials are colluded too, but for the most part they are happy to let the narcos to their bizness while they skim off the top of city projects or make up stupid “bonuses” for themselves.

    Im serious, you see it all the time on the news, how legislators decide to pass law which increase the pay and benefits of their profession, fuck Id like a job where I decide when to raise my pay and give myself luxury cars and SUVs, only for official use of course.

  • 14. Pedro  |  February 4th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Brilliant writing. Loved your 1st article and this was just as good. Keep it up with more on the drug wars and their fallout. In live in Australia and this stuff is like reading about another planet.

  • 15. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    and scandinavian dude: you treat your own kids like sex slaves.

    I rest my case

  • 16. Pancho  |  February 4th, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Keep in mind this isn’t representative of ALL Mexico. Monterrey is an enormous metropolitan area, about a quarter the size of DF. It’s also NEAR the border, and the drug routes heat up near the US borders. The narcos don’t fuck people up EVERYWHERE. My friends in Mexico range from dirt poor to low middle class and the whole drug war thing doesn’t concern them an awful lot (Queretaro), although they do have RANDOM violent events to cheer them up, occasionally.

  • 17. Anonymous  |  February 4th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    What’re “rivos”? Drinks?

  • 18. mx?  |  February 4th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    rivotril are pills, not as good as rohypnol though.

  • 19. fajensen  |  February 5th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    @Scandinavian dude:

    Disgusting. You sure are a bunch of monkeys down there. We don’t have apeman stuff like that here in the Scandinavian countries

    Not until recently anyway we did not!

    Thanks to generous welfare programmes we are now blessed with places like Rinkeby (Stockholm), Rosengården (Malmø) and Vesterbro (Copenhagen) to make us feel much more 3rd-world’ish.

  • 20. Anon  |  February 7th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I guess we just aren’t as civilized as scandinavians until we get out very own school shooting!

    Living in the same city as the author, I got to see someone getting picked up. It was quick, in broad daylight and nobody really “noticed”.

  • 21. Skööby Döö  |  February 8th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Man, there sure are a lot of fucking Swedes here. There goes the neighborhood.

  • 22. Seya  |  July 27th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Spent two weeks in Laredo about 5 years ago doing Ketamine and sleeping in motels. I look back now and wonder what the hell was I thinking. Young and stupid..not realizing the danger I was in. I love your stories.

  • 23. mario  |  September 1st, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    wow! great story and sad

  • 24. Andie  |  February 20th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I never knew it was so commonplace, but I am glad I learned something today. Good read.

  • 25. Sierra  |  April 2nd, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Why the animosity towards President Calderon?

  • 26. NZ  |  June 10th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    From New Zealand and found this story sad and interesting. Like a train wreck, I couldn’t take my eyes away.

    We only get a small glimpse of drug related violence. Christ, I guess its only a matter of time though.

  • 27. flot  |  August 24th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Wow, amazing that you think it dehumanizes your victims to torture them. The truth is it dehumanizes you sadistic low lifes 4 fold! the innocent lives you torure are better people than you. It doesn’t matter if they cry for mercy or you make them eat their own dick while fucking their wife, they are still better than you and you know it! You get off torturing them but it doesn’t sustain you as you know that you are a sack of shit for what you have become. I only wish American justice could allow toruture speciffically as a capital punishment for those who torture! it’s what you deserve and its the only justice. A slow running asphault roller slowly crushing all the bones in your coward cartel ass you dumb faggot! It won’t be long and Scandanavian/Americans will go vigillante style on your asses and drag you all behind our trucks you pussified sacks of shit!

  • 28. Peter Piper  |  September 10th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    WOW! What the hell is up with that last guy who posted a comment? He addresses his comments directly to the kidnappers? Does he actually believe this is some kind of forum where the kidnappers hang out and he’s able to speak directly to the kidnappers here?? As if kidnappers hang out in online forums on their days off.


  • 29. Peter Piper  |  September 10th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    By the way, Pancho, if you’re reading this, I just wanted to say that was an excellent piece of journalism there. Very dryly written. Funny, sobering, and informative, all at the same time. You definitely have a knack for this.

  • 30. MARCO  |  December 22nd, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Watch it! Ya andan tras la comunidad del Telemarketing en Monterrey…

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