Pubdate: Thu, 1 Jul 2010
Source: Boston Review (MA)
Copyright: 2010 Boston Review
Author: Sarah Hill

The War for Drugs


In April 2007 Ciudad Juarez-the sprawling Mexican border city girding 
El Paso, Texas-won a Foreign Direct Investment magazine award for 
"North American large cities of the future." With an automotive 
workforce rivaling Detroit's and hundreds of export-processing 
plants, businesses in Juarez employed 250,000 factory workers, and 
were responsible for nearly one-fifth of the value of U.S.-Mexican 
trade. The trans-border region of 2.4 million people had one of the 
hemisphere's highest growth rates.

Just three years later, as many as 125,000 factory jobs and 400,000 
residents have vanished. More than ten thousand small businesses have 
closed, and vast stretches of residential and commercial areas are 
abandoned. It is no surprise that the Great Recession temporarily 
shuttered factories and forced layoffs in a city intimately tied to 
American consumers. Mexico's economy contracted by 5.6 percent in 
2009, far worse than the United States's "negative growth" of about 2 percent.

But Juarez has suffered from much more than recession. Its murder 
rate now makes it the deadliest city in the world, including cities 
in countries at war with foreign enemies. On average, there are more 
than seven homicides each day, many in broad daylight. Some 10,000 
combat-ready federal forces are now stationed in Juarez; their 
armored vehicles roll up and down the same arteries as semis tightly 
packed with HDTVs bound for the United States. Factory managers wake 
up in El Paso-one of the safest U.S. cities-and go to work in the 
plants of a city bathed in blood.

To Americans the most notable killing was the March assassination of 
a U.S. consular employee and her husband on their way home from a 
child's birthday party. Witnesses say their car was chased down a 
boulevard that once symbolized peace between the United States and 
Mexico and mutual prosperity. It rammed a curb within yards of the 
bridge to El Paso. Though the killing took place practically under 
the noses of armed forces stationed in the highly sensitive area, 
just a few bullet casings were recovered from the scene, indicating 
that the executioners took their time to clean up and cover their tracks.

Three weeks later the army arrested the alleged killer-a member of a 
gang aligned with the Juarez Cartel-but almost no one believes this 
crime will ever be "solved." And with good reason. In recent years 
less than 2 percent of Mexican homicide cases have concluded with the 
sentencing of the perpetrator. In Juarez alone, there are some 200 
unidentified corpses dating back to January 2008. As of June 2010 
Juarez is in its 30th month of open warfare.

Can Juarez be saved? Will the factories reopen, as they have after 
past economic downturns, or is the city too dangerous for the 
business of making legal consumer goods? The economic questions are, 
perhaps, beside the point. For even if legal manufacturing returns, 
salvation may remain a distant goal. The economic model-low-wage 
export-oriented assembly-that investors celebrated also helped Juarez 
become the illegal narcotics capital of the Western hemisphere, 
perhaps indelibly.

A Tale of Two Cities

I first got to know Juarez during the 1990s, when I lived and worked 
there as a graduate student in anthropology. It was exciting then: 
Juarez was at the heart of debate over the North American Free Trade 
Agreement (NAFTA). Coming fast on the heels of the Soviet collapse in 
1989, NAFTA launched the current era of globalization. In Juarez I 
had a front-row seat for the unfolding of free trade.

It was a place of head-spinning extremes-gleaming high-tech 
industrial parks ringed by worker slums. One of the world's most 
profitable Walmarts sat within view of settlements without decent 
water, sewers, or paved roads. Amid the inequalities, however, 
ordinary, middle-class Juarenses were enthusiastic about their city's future.

I recently returned to Juarez and was unprepared for the city's 
shocking transformation. Friends cautioned against crossing the 
border. Some had closed their businesses there, or had moved their 
families north. A few warily ventured into Juarez, but they always 
hurried back to the United States before dark. For the first time, I 
heard the once-optimistic Juarenses lament their city.

Some see the roots of Juarez's violence in its recovery from the 
Mexican Revolution, which ravaged what was in the 1910s and '20s a 
frontier town. Certainly part of the city's personality-and maybe its 
pathology-can be traced to that period.

Like its booming neighbor to the north, it needed schools, libraries, 
and hospitals. Instead it got bars and whorehouses. Because of 
Prohibition, El Pasoans had to find their entertainment across the 
border, in the richly appointed American-owned casinos and 
nightclubs. Juarez of the 1920s was like Las Vegas of the 1950s: 
elegant, exotic, uninhibited.

Older Juarenses speak of the post-Revolution city as if it were two: 
by day Juarez was a quiet Mexican town modeling itself on the 
progress it saw in the United States. At night it morphed into a 
world of exported vice and carnal pleasure. The growth of Fort Bliss 
during World War II and El Paso's lingering blue laws reinforced that 
split personality.

In the late 1960s an experiment in export-oriented manufacturing 
seemed to give Juarez-by-day the upper hand. Under an agreement 
between the U.S. and Mexican governments, American firms set up shop 
across the border and imported materials duty-free from the United 
States. The companies employed Mexican labor to transform those 
materials into finished goods for export back, also duty-free. The 
firms, called maquilas by the locals, found favorable conditions: 
third-world wages, a government that promoted unionization in name 
only, and no oversight of the treatment of manufacturing byproducts. 
Moreover, maquila managers could work "overseas" during the day, and 
return home at night, thereby avoiding Mexican poverty, environmental 
problems, and crime. Success begets competition. The trickle of U.S. 
firms that abandoned their costly Midwestern labor forces became a 
torrent in the 1980s.

But while Juarez-by-day had triumphed for the time being, 
Juarez-by-night had not been tamed completely. Factory managers loved 
their assignments: they enjoyed the comfort and security of their El 
Paso homes, and, when they wanted, the thrill of Juarez nightlife, 
including the venues that everyone suspected were fronts for drug money.

Global Change Comes Home

In the summer of 1992, during my first visit to Juarez, a change was 
snaking its way through the city's impoverished working-class 
settlements. Deteriorating rural economic conditions, together with 
relatively high maquila wages (typically $5-7 a day) prompted a huge 
immigration to Juarez. The steady stream of potential workers-more 
than a hundred new residents arrived each day in the 1990s-kept wages 
down and the costs of housing and services up. Despite their improved 
conditions, then, workers could enjoy few benefits from their labor. 
They struggled to meet basic needs, including fees for schooling that 
would qualify their children for factory work once they were old 
enough to earn a living.

All the families I met relied on at least one factory salary. But 
there were plenty of unemployed, too. Mostly young men, these idlers 
were the right age to be working or in school, but instead they hung 
around wearing baggy Dickie pants, hair nets, and other insignia of 
cholo (gang) affiliation. My research assistant, a former Catholic 
catechist, taught me to recognize and steer clear of the real cholos, 
who were dangerous, and to salute and acknowledge the others, who 
were just posing.

The settlements blanketing the steep ravines of the mountains 
surrounding the city's center had no infrastructure to speak of, but 
they did have corners. And boys hung out on those corners day and 
night. They huddled on their haunches in winter and they lolled in 
whatever shade they could find in summer. They were guarding turf; 
they menaced the school kids and factory workers forced to cross 
their paths, sometimes beating them bloody.

Some idlers were getting high, though not from illegal narcotics. 
Rather, they mined stolen factory materials-paint thinner, acetone, 
and buckets of solvent-soaked rags used to wipe down finished 
televisions. They would distribute "sniffs" to their neighborhood buddies.

But in the mid-1990s life for these young men began to take on 
another character. A friend who worked in drug treatment told me that 
she and her co-workers were scrambling to identify new addictions, as 
banned drugs supplanted the inhalants.

On a 1996 tour of settlements, my friend showed me some of the places 
where dealers had set up shop. They were not selling injectable 
narcotics-a syringe was an extravagance in these desperately poor 
communities-but drugs that could be consumed directly. She spoke of 
pills, though their identification was elusive. These small retail 
outlets laid the groundwork for the harder stuff that would soon 
follow. Over time I realized what the idle kids were up to. They were 
working, perhaps earning only pennies, for the new dealers.

My observations in Juarez reflected a shift in global drug markets 
that began far from the city. As globalization of manufacturing 
ramped up in the 1980s, it did so in parallel with dramatic changes 
in the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal 
narcotics. In the early '90s the global pressures that disrupted the 
trade routes for cocaine that ran from Andean jungles to U.S. 
consumer markets converged on Juarez.

This was not obvious then. The local change that seemed most 
consequential for Mexico's future was the 1992 election of an 
opposition party member as mayor of Juarez. Francisco Villarreal 
Torres, owner of a small chain of house-ware stores and a political 
outsider, campaigned on promises of good governance and clean 
conduct. His election proved the viability of the National Action 
Party (PAN), which went on to win the 2000 presidential election, 
thereby ending 70 years of one-party rule.

Villarreal's true rival once he took office was not his political 
opponent, but Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the subordinate, rival, and 
successor of famed rural drug lord Pablo Acosta, who died in a 1987 
shoot-out with Mexican and U.S. forces. Carillo Fuentes moved 
operations from the sparsely populated Big Bend region of Texas to 
Juarez, a relocation that mirrored and exploited the 
globalization-driven economic success of Juarez.

Acosta's business had focused on smuggling Mexican pot and heroin 
across the border to U.S. buyers. Distribution was in the hands of 
informal dealer networks, from which, reportedly, Acosta only 
infrequently took a direct cut. With two significant changes to 
Acosta's business model, Carrillo Fuentes would turn cocaine into the 
cornerstone of a multinational, vertically integrated enterprise with 
diversified products stretching from the Andes (and other source 
sites) to United States (and other) markets.

In the past, Colombians had used Mexican marijuana smugglers to 
transport only a small portion of their merchandise; the main 
trafficking routes wound through the Caribbean. By some estimates, 
cocaine importation and money laundering accounted for a third of 
Miami's economic activity in the 1980s. But the 1993 killing of Pablo 
Escobar decapitated the Medellin Cartel, and, beginning in 1991, the 
Cali Cartel was weakened by seizures and arrests (though its leaders 
remained at large until 1995). When the U.S. Department of Justice 
began to seize Miami bank assets and prosecute the Colombian 
traffickers' lawyers, the Mexican cocaine trade picked up pace and volume.

Seeing his opening, Carrillo Fuentes shifted from bagman to 
distributor-the first of his two innovations. He also took advantage 
of another vacuum: in the years prior to his rise, the prosecutorial 
assault on crack-cocaine in the United States had jailed and killed 
thousands of street-level dealers and their bosses. Carrillo Fuentes 
filled that void with his own retail agents in U.S. cities.

Like any vendor, Carrillo Fuentes looked for new markets and new 
products. And like transnational firms that sprawled across the city, 
he saw a business opportunity in the booming factory-worker 
population of Juarez. His second innovation-perhaps the single action 
most responsible for the rise in violence-was to call an end to drug 
traffickers' long-standing voluntary prohibition against local sales.

Local-market development began modestly enough. Sometime in 1990 or 
1991-before the Colombian cartels had ceded their supremacy-residents 
in a handful of Juarez's scrappy, tar-paper-and-adobe settlements 
found their first samples of a narcotic previously limited to export 
markets: cocaine. It was neither pure nor of high quality-cut several 
times with talc and baking powder-but it was coke, for the first 
time, for the Mexican masses.

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, long-time human rights attorney and 
director of the city's prison from 1995 until 1998, described to me 
the explosion of tienditas, retail drug outlets. According to de la 
Rosa, in 1990 there were fewer than 50 neighborhood dealers. By 1995 
the number had climbed to 300. The current estimate exceeds 1,000. 
Some of these tienditas are distribution centers, employing as many 
as 50 roving peddlers. And the city is now saturated with 
dealer-addicts, the "fivers" who sell just enough (about five hits) 
to cover the costs of their own high. Charles Bowden, in his new book 
Murder City, estimates that as many as 25,000 Juarenses may be 
involved in petty drug sales. At the height of the Great Recession, 
that meant one drug dealer for every four or five employed factory workers.

But this explosion of corner dealers was not responsible for the 
city's dramatic transformation. That change came with the system of 
dealer protection. Each corner dealer works not only under an officer 
in the cartel, but in tandem with a beat cop. The cop protects the 
dealer and his gang against encroachments by other neighborhood 
gangs. The tiendita system is thus a logical extension of the rules 
of the Mexican drug "plaza," the long-established formal arrangement 
between traffickers and security forces.

When foreigners talk about the Mexican drug business and the drug 
war, they talk about cartels carving up territory among each other 
and then going after each other's turf. Mexicans, by contrast, begin 
with the plaza, a government concession sold to a preferred bidder. 
Trafficking drugs is effectively a licensed affair, the exclusive and 
protected rights to which are controlled by the military and the police.

In the tiendita system, it is not only locally "licensed" dealers who 
send their earnings up the chain of command. Beat cops, too, pay 
their supervisors and commanders. Hence the Juarez name for what the 
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) calls the "Juarez Cartel": la 
linea-"police line."

Chronically underpaid Mexican police traditionally have made their 
living livable with bribes-the famous mordita ("bite"). But 
historically they did not defend violently their right to bite. 
Street drugs changed that. De la Rosa told me that in the mid-1990s, 
only two of the city's then-estimated 500 gangs were known to be 
armed. Now, 80 percent of them are.

The Violence Intensifies

This local retail model was highly successful, and it quickly became 
the industry standard. By 1997 it was dispersed widely across the 
industrial north. Carrillo Fuentes had risen in seven years to become 
Mexico's wealthiest and most powerful drug trafficker, with a fortune 
estimated at $25 billion. His "assets" included General Jose de Jesus 
Gutierrez Rebollo, the Mexican drug czar. In February 1997, just 
weeks after his appointment to the job, an investigation revealed 
that he had been on the Cartel's payroll. Carrillo Fuentes also 
bought shares in a Mexican bank, a move that helped simplify his 
money laundering efforts.

When Carrillo Fuentes died while undergoing plastic surgery that 
summer, a violent power struggle predictably followed. But by today's 
standards it was mild: a mere 72 deaths over eight months. Now, about 
a hundred are killed every two weeks in Juarez.

The narcoguerra following Carrillo Fuentes's death introduced Juarez 
to "message killings": bodies tortured, dismembered, and stuffed into 
boxes, car trunks, and barrels. Also new and shocking were the 
open-air executions: gangland-style killings at jam-packed 
restaurants. At the time, such crimes were rare enough that the media 
could follow them up and report on their continued lack of resolution.

The battle for succession remained mostly isolated to the top command 
in both the Cartel and the police (the probable first victim of that 
narcoguerra was a high-ranking federal police officer, killed by 
commandos just four days after Carrillo Fuentes's botched surgery). 
With the confirmation of new leadership-Amado Carrillo Fuentes's 
younger brother Vicente, according to conventional wisdom-the killing 
abated. But it never went away. And it never went back underground. 
Restaurants and bars became safe again, but killings continued in the 
neighborhoods where tienditas had taken root. There, factory workers 
lived tensely with the growing groups of tough, largely unemployed 
men and boys who moved constantly in and out of alliance with the 
more organized gangs.

Meanwhile the city continued to gorge on the profits of local and 
international narcotics sales. Though few admitted it, everyone knew 
how the gaudy houses that popped up in the old moneyed enclaves were 
financed. Ditto the origins of the flashy princesses who began to 
grace the newspapers' society pages. City elites chose to overlook 
the excesses of the trafficking business. "We tolerated the narco," 
an upper middle class friend recently told me. "That was our 
mistake." I asked her why conventional, conservative-Catholic Juarez 
put up with the traffickers. "Look at all those businesses up and 
down the Avenida de las Americas," she said, "it's all money 
laundering. But it gave us restaurants to enjoy and boutiques to shop in."

The price of permissiveness grew increasingly steep. In 1993 a 
no-nonsense retired accountant named Esther Chavez Cano noticed 
routine newspaper stories on the discovery of female corpses. The 
details were gruesome: some were found tortured and raped, almost all 
were tossed to the side of a road, as if they were litter. Chavez 
Cano began a newspaper column in which she demanded action and 
accountability. Her writing campaign soon launched a social movement 
that garnered international attention for the same city that was then 
proudly boasting of its manufacturing triumphs. She and those she 
inspired tallied 427 women dead or disappeared between 1993 and 2007, 
an undeniable symptom of the city's violent alter ego.

But these horrific killings of young women eclipsed a more prosaic 
body count: that of the men who turned up dead all over the city with 
increasing regularity. It is easy enough to see how the murdered 
girls and women focused the world's attention on Juarez's perverse, 
misogynistic, and violent appetites. Nonetheless, for every 
publicized female corpse there are ten overlooked male counterparts, 
according to government data. Whatever the explanation for the high 
numbers of women killed, the one incontestable fact is that the 
killing of both women and men began in earnest the very year that the 
DEA says cocaine trafficking shifted from Miami to Juarez. This was 
not a coincidence.

The World'S Deadliest City

I moved away from the border in 1999 but returned to visit in 2001. I 
caught up with two friends, also academics, who had been raised in 
the city's toughest neighborhoods. We met at a cute bar on the corner 
of Avenida de las Americas and Avenida Lincoln. It was the kind of 
place then multiplying around town: refrigerated air, an impressive 
sound system, and swanky drinks. It shared a parking lot with a 
California-style sushi bar that in 1997 had been the site of the 
dinnertime execution of a businessman with suspected drug ties.

We talked about cholos. "Today's cholo is different," one of my 
friends remarked. "Yesterday's cholo used to compete with merely his 
attitude, his fashion, and his posture. If the cholos really needed 
to fight, they fought with what they had available: rocks, stones. 
And then they got knives. But now some of them have guns." Today, 
"some" would be "nearly all," but as recently as 2001, guns were rare.

That summer I took pictures of a sixteen-year-old boy. He sported a 
bandana and an oversized tee shirt depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe 
and his initials in Gothic letters. He smiled so sweetly and eagerly 
that he hardly looked tough in his portrait. He and his mother beamed 
when I brought them copies. She surprised me with the pride she took 
in her son's apparent cholo ambitions. I had never met such a parent.

That summer I was also surprised by what seemed to me an astronomical 
increase in the number of kids just hanging out, guarding turf on 
corners. Neighborhood toughs were now everywhere. And they belonged 
to a bewildering array of ranked groups, mysteriously nested within 
hierarchies that most of the teenagers I talked to only vaguely understood.

In 2001 I could see that what was once isolated in the bars and 
nightclubs and conducted its affairs after hours, had woken up to 
business in the daytime and set up shop close to home. The gap 
between Juarez-by-day and Juarez-by-night was narrowing to a sliver.

Today, the sliver has vanished. The Juarez Cartel and its rival, the 
Sinaloa Cartel, fight each other in the streets, and Mexican federal 
forces allegedly fight the traffickers. Rumor has it that a third 
trafficking organization, the Zetas, may have entered the market.

In any case, the violence escalates. There were many milestones along 
the way: 1993, the year that femicide was first recorded, the year 
when Amado Carrillo Fuentes reportedly assumed sole leadership of the 
Juarez Cartel; 1997, the escalation of violence after his death; 
2000, when, with considerable fanfare, the FBI announced its mission 
to Juarez to locate the rumored remains of as many as a hundred 
victims buried in narcofosas, "drug graves" (only four bodies were 
found). Also crucial was 2004. That year, the United States lifted 
its ban on assault weapons, making it that much easier for 
traffickers to obtain their arms of choice. There are 6,600 gun shops 
in the four U.S. border states. Of the 11,000 guns turned over to the 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by Mexican 
forces in 2009, almost 90 percent were traced to U.S. gun shops.

Homicides in Juarez nearly doubled from 123 to 234 between 1993 and 
1994. The rate stabilized for the next dozen plus years, dipping in 
some, ranging from a low of 176 in 1999 to a high of 294 in 1995. The 
2007 spike to 316 murders generated much year-end hand-wringing, but 
within a month 2007 appeared to be the calm before the storm. 
Violence exploded in January of 2008, with 46 killings. The total for 
February was 49. And in March, when President Felipe Calderon 
deployed thousands of troops to secure the city, the murder count 
doubled to 117. Now it rarely dips below those levels. One hundred 
deaths in a month would be considered a respite. May 2010 saw 253.

The familiar explanation for the spasm of violence that has seized 
Juarez since January 2008 starts with Calderon's vow upon taking 
office two years earlier to rid Mexico of all traffickers and his 
rapid deployment of troops to cartel hot spots. But almost from the 
start, skeptical observers have suggested that Calderon's forces 
appear to be routing all traffickers but one: the powerful Sinaloa 
Cartel, headed by Joaquin Guzman Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo ("shorty"). 
For Mexicans, schooled in the reality of the plaza, it is hard to 
believe that security forces can fight traffickers; they are, as one 
journalist put it to me recently in an email, indistinguishable from 
each other.

Consider the evidence that Mexicans never forget or overlook: shortly 
after President Carlos Salinas left office in 1994, his older 
brother's wife was caught using a fake passport to withdraw more than 
$80,000,000 from a Swiss bank, part of the fortune her husband 
somehow managed to amass while working as a government bureaucrat. 
The disgraced ex-president fled into self-imposed exile in Ireland, a 
country that has no extradition treaty with Mexico.

His successor, Ernesto Zedillo, declared a U.S.-style war on drugs 
and then appointed Gutierrez Rebollo as his drug czar, only to find 
that Carrillo Fuentes was paying Gutierrez Rebollo his monthly rent 
for a national concession.

Even the first opposition president in Mexico's modern history is not 
free of suspicion. Shortly after Vicente Fox's election in 2000, he 
spent a weekend at the private Cancun retreat of Roberto Hernandez 
Ramirez, CEO of Banamex (Mexico's second-largest bank) and alleged 
drug trafficker.

None of this explains the extent of Juarez's homicidal violence. One 
major difference between 1997 and 2008, as Gustavo de la Rosa 
Hickerson pointed out, is that the current war is being fought at 
every level of the trade, down to the street-level vendor and his 
protection and tribute network. As Charles Bowden puts it, this is 
not a war against drugs, it is a war for drugs. One related theory 
put forward by veteran observer Bill Conroy of Narco News is that the 
army moved into Juarez to take the concessionaire role away from the police.

The story of the two cities of Juarez thus applies to the entire 
country: what started in Juarez has become Mexico. The attempt to 
cripple the drug business in Juarez has meant crippling the city; 
doing the same in Mexico at large may mean crippling the nation.

Innocent Victims

President Calderon has sought to make his drug war palatable by 
asserting that the country's war dead-estimated at 23,000 since 
January 2006 for the country as a whole-deserved to die: their deaths 
implicate them in illegal activities.

When he first learned about what Juarenses have come to call the 
"massacre at Villas de Salvarcar," Calderon hinted that the thirteen 
teenagers who died at the hands of professional executioners were 
common criminals and city low life. He could not have been more 
wrong. In fact they were honor students and athletes who had gathered 
to celebrate a friend's seventeenth birthday. They had the misfortune 
of belonging to a football club whose initials, "AA," were mistaken 
for the initials of the Sinaloa cartel's local enforcers, the 
Artistic Assassins. And so, in the middle of the night, while the 
teens danced in a room cleared of furniture, they were gunned down. 
Seven hours later, when the first daylight photos were taken, the 
concrete floor where they died still glistened with their clotting blood.

The escalating war over the Juarez plaza coincided with a 
particularly unpleasant moment in the global market system-in the 
midst of massive factory layoffs prompted by the economic downtown 
beginning in 2007. Locals easily grasp that little of the current 
day-to-day violence in Juarez has much, directly, to do with any 
cartel. Look at who dies with grim regularity: a gang of teenage car 
thieves, a group of former cholos who opened a funeral home, a guy 
pilfering doors from an abandoned neighboring house. Not all victims 
are entirely innocent-the city is filled with scrappy, hard-working 
men and women, some of whom have turned to Juarez-by-night for 
survival now that Juarez-by-day has so little to offer them-but they 
are not drug dealers or corrupt police, either.

Accommodating the drug business has become a shockingly ordinary part 
of life. Working-class parents ask few questions when their studious 
daughters and sons lose factory jobs while their wayward siblings 
provide the household's only income.

In February I spent a day with the director of a nonprofit day-care 
organization as she visited centers her group helped to launch. The 
owner of one home-based establishment related with good cheer being 
confronted by a nicely dressed middle-aged couple and their armed 
bodyguard. They advised her to start paying a $1,000-per-month 
protection fee. She and her family went into hiding for a few weeks 
before they reopened-quietly, and with great trepidation. The 
director laughed when I asked which cartel the extortionists work 
for. "People like that don't work for anybody," she replied. "They 
extort for a living because no one stops them!" The couple had shaken 
down the entire block of small family-owned businesses. Little matter 
that across the street stretched the vast army encampment, home to 
troops sent to end the city's lawlessness.

Later my guide told me that Juarenses even have their own terms to 
distinguish between organized crime and opportunistic crime. The most 
common form of the latter is the secuestro express: a kidnapping that 
lasts no more than a few hours, just long enough to pressure a family 
to cough up an "affordable" ransom, but not long or expensive enough 
to attract the interests of enterprises that might want a cut.

Night falls

For decades, the maquilas' critics longed for border businesses to be 
in control, rather than simply in service, of multinational capital. 
This is the irony of Carrillo Fuentes's innovation: he became the 
Mexican-border trade baron who accomplished all that and more. His 
generation of traffickers adapted the maquila model to their own use 
by taking advantage of its infrastructure to move and market their 
products. No wonder Forbes recognized their achievements by including 
El Chapo Guzman in its 2010 list of global billionaires.

And what of the maquilas? The signs are not promising: in mid-January 
university researchers calculated industrial park vacancies at 14 
percent-a historic high, up from an already-alarming 10 percent the 
year before. That month a Siemens customs manager was gunned down on 
his way to work. In October his subordinate had met her end after 
U.S. officials found drugs smuggled in a shipment. Mid-level staff 
are frequent targets, prompting some companies to consider extending 
their security measures beyond plant executives. It is probably just 
a matter of time before manufacturing firms move on.

What will be left of Juarez then? In El Paso, there are nightclubs, 
boutiques, fancy restaurants, and thriving industries. That city is 
growing in ways that seemed unimaginable even a decade ago. Even the 
mayor of Juarez has fled north of the border, and that was before he 
received a threat to his life in February-a severed pig's head marked 
with his name.

Those who haven't abandoned Juarez may be watching the death of it, 
both day and night.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake