Ever wonder what life is like for a reporter in Mexico who reports primarily on drug cartels and traffickers? I interviewed Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco and a correspondent in Mexico City, to learn more about what it’s like to be a reporter in a time–and place–where reporters are constantly under threat by drug cartels (see Timeline of journalists’ deaths and how this has shaped public policy in Mexico).
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Tagged Amnesty International, D.E.A., drug trafficking, El Narco, Interpol, Ioan Grillo, Jesus Blancornelas, journalist, mexico, Mexico City, Oscar Martinez, Sydney Olympics, zeta
Sensationalization of violence or local watchdog reports gone viral? I talked to Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco, and now my mind is just a little bit blown away.
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When I first began researching how media writes about drug cartels, and the drug war, I conducted a content analysis to figure out what exactly was most prevalent among coverage. I read 30 reports–10 from the New York Times, 10 from from the Los Angeles Times, and 10 from San Antonio Express. I counted any references made to violence (in any form), corruption, public policy, and so on. In the end, and without going into great detail about the content analysis here, my count for the violence category was significantly higher than any other category.
Well this is interesting…
According to an Associated Press report, the U.S. identified the body of Heriberto Lazcano, gunned down by the Mexican Navy, before Mexico’s autopsy could verify the fingerprints of the body:
“The U.S. had independently verified the identity of Zeta founder and leader Heriberto Lazcano, killed in a shootout Sunday in a northern Mexican town, before his body was stolen at about 1 a.m. Monday, according to a U.S. law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak to the press about the case” (Fox news).
I think this report speaks volumes about the kind of relationship that the U.S. has with Mexico, in that U.S. interest in identifying a potential cartel leader’s body would privilege over Mexico’s interest.
I guess this means the body really did belong to Lazcano?
Consider this New York Times headline for a second: “Mexico Kills a Drug Kingpin, but the Body Gets Away”.
(I know you’re just dying to say “zombie apocalypse!” BUT, cut it the hell out. I doubt ‘kingpin’, AKA Heriberto Lazcano, was on bath salts. So, let’s be adult…-esque)
“The twin developments — the killing of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, one of the most wanted men in Mexico and the United States, followed by the theft of his corpse before authorities had even publicly identified it — left Mexican officials struggling on Tuesday to explain how a major blow against the nation’s criminal organizations could suddenly turn into an illustration of their persistent strength” (New York Times).
And it turns out this incident might have been avoided if the Mexican navy had followed through and continued to surveil the body until it was–at least–six feet under.
Yeah, apparently they just dropped the corpse off at the funeral home AFTER an AUTOPSY kind of proved the identity of Lazcano.
Just “kind of proved”?
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Tagged autopsy, bath salts, bush administration, corruption, drug cartel, fast and furious, funeral home, guns, heriberto lazcano lazcano, kingpin, marines, mexico, navy, new york times, obama administration, sinaloa cartel, wikileaks, zombie apocalypse
Last December, Ginger Thompson of the New York Times wrote an article about a money-laundering operation run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, to track cartel members via U.S. dollar movement.
US Dollar. photo: creative commons /
The operation, and its “high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime” (New York Times).
Still, the money-laundering scheme appears to be a much better move to track the movement of drug cartels than the catastrophe that was/is the Fast and Furious operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in which the ATF “allowed people suspected of being low-level smugglers to buy and transport guns across the border in the hope that they would lead to higher-level operatives working for Mexican cartels. After the agency lost track of hundreds of weapons, some later turned up in Mexico; two were found on the United States side of the border where an American Border Patrol agent had been shot to death” (New York Times).
In light of being considered comparatively safer than the not-safe-at-all Fast and Furious operation, the money-laundering story needs an update. Because: where is ALL that money?