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 is about neighborhood drug stores called “tienditas.” They’re sort of like your local Rite Aid, but they don’t carry any Tylenol.
MONTERREY, MEXICO — In my neighborhood there are two tienditas. Mainly they sell crack and powdered cocaine. A tiendita can be set up in any place. It does not have to be a store, but for the sake of keeping up appearances they usually are. I guess they don’t want the continuous flow of clients and taxis double and triple-parked to raise unnecessary suspicion.
They don’t need to advertise on billboards, although they could if they wanted to. (I don’t want to talk much about police/government involvement, but I’ll say this: the cops protect the stores and patrol the streets like regular cops should, only that they report to the Zetas.) Anyway, word-of-mouth spreads the message that there is a new place, right across the street, where you can get your fix easily and without hassle.
The buying process is simple. You walk into the store, go to the counter, ask for your drug of choice (crack, blow or weed), pay, walk out and enjoy. It’s that simple! It’s very impersonal, you don’t have to go through all those trust issues I hear you people have for scoring shit in the US.
The inventory is simple, too. These aren’t boutique medical marijuana shops I hear you have in California that offer 50 types of weed. No, the main business of a tiendita is piedra, slang name for crack cocaine. But after a drug shop becomes more established, the management expands into powder cocaine and pot. The quality is not very good. They cut it too much. That’s why a bolsita (baggie) of zetas pase (blow) is usually called rabia (rabies). Imagine why.
But even if you start foaming at the mouth like an infected dog, you will never complain about the price. The minimum amount for a cocaine purchase — either crack or blow — is 1/2 gram for $120 pesos ($8.50 USD). Until very recently it was $100 pesos ($7.00 USD), but the zetas added $20 pesos to the price. The general druggies now think the zetas are a bunch of greedy fuckers. But if you look at it from the zetas point of view (remember, they are businessmen), that little price increase multiplied by the thousands of tienditas they run in Mexico increases their earnings big time. So they are more like greedy fucking geniuses, because the average addict doesn’t care about another measly $20 pesos. They will pay the price as long as they can get a fix. If you ask me it is a good business move for them. Sure there is a small price increase for the consumer, but using one of their tienditas is safer than going to a bad neighborhood and it’s just around the corner.
As for pot, one should stay away from the shit they sell at the tienditas, it’s crap, all grinded together with the sticks and seeds. They sell the weed in pezetas, which are small, sealed plastic bags with like 3-4 joints of regular size. But if you want good weed, you need a good connection. (That is what I got.)
Who works in the tienditas? Basically, anyone stupid and crazy enough. Generally, it is the first career move for would-be thugs that want to make a name for themselves. There are no armed guards, as far as I know, watching out for the store. But generally anyone who works there carries a pistol or has a NexTel handy to call for the real zetas if anything weird happens. Sometimes they will even keep an AK, but that is up to their bosses I think. The tiendita shop keepers also serve as the fall guys. When the army comes, they take away these idiots and the real owners just get a few more that same day.
The tiendita is protected by a network of informers known as Los Halcones, or hawks. They frequently come in the form of taxi drivers, even street vendors could be in on it. If you look closely, you’ll see that taco stands are located in ideal places to inform of suspicious activity or if an army convoy is headed there to bust them. The Halcones are complemented by the police. They can be seen making the rounds around the neighborhood acting as informers, too. They’ll report on anything out of the ordinary and detain suspicious people. If they are in luck and catch a possible “pusher” competing for business, they take him to the zetas. (He’ll probably end up being dissolved in a barrel or have his head chopped off and a pig’s head screwed in there instead and be thrown onto the street for kids to play with.)
The police is corrupt and are generally assholes who deserve the reputation they have. Most of the general population hates them. More than anything, the cops are afraid of the narcos because they know that to them a cop’s life is worth nothing. And it’s not like the public will mourn these fuckers.
Who buys drugs from a tiendita? Everyone and anyone buys there — from poor construction workers, to middle class teenagers, to affluent young adults. But if you take drugs and have a good connection (and a little bit more cash), there is no reason for stepping into a tiendita, unless you happen to be on a crack-smoking marathon, run out of your supply and can’t wait for a delivery.
But there is one thing the tienditas don’t carry, and that is pills. Right now I’m taking some little white ones called rivotril but generally the only ones I like are rohypnols (”blue, 542-marked, to go please”). You know them as roofies, I think. There is a whole druggie subculture around this pills all over Mexico. Since they are discontinued they are pretty hard to find, but ask anyone here that likes pills what their favorite one is. I’ll be suprised if they don’t say rohypnol, or “reinas” as they are called here. Our blue-eyed queens, haha! But that is it for now. Maybe I’ll cover the queens in my next dispatch.
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