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drugs

Illustration by Corey Brickley

Dixon

A star-smeared night, the usual briny and humid haze of the brush country in August, and Dixon was hauling twenty cases of stolen toys up from the Rio Grande valley. If the border patrol at the Sarita checkpoint asked, he’d claim a delivery mix-up.

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

Holding

This is how it is with my mind, heading out over the ocean, tipping one way so I see only water, shades of blue and green and cloud-shadow slate; tipping the other, all sky and complication of cloud. Ruckus of glinting refracted light. Some days, just empty gray, in both directions.

The Cocaine Coast

January 28, 2010

South American cocaine is ferried to Europe through West Africa. Along the way, FARC, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda all get a cut.

Police tape, marked DANGEROUS, cordons off a murder scene in Juárez, Mexico.

Call of the Narcocorrido

In the PM newsroom, two men listen to the strains of a narcocorrido drifting from a police scanner. The vague shrill discord of accordions and a brass band echoes in the glass office until a burst of distortion shatters the ill-begotten melody and imposes a staticky silence. They know in the expanding quiet that someone will die tonight.

Game Over

“I’m just a piece of trash from the gutter,” Jesse told me with pride. “I was born to be what I am. I come from a family of hustlers. Most people at family reunions. They talk about their kids and who got married and shit. At my family reunions, everyone talks about how much paper they made on their last hustle, and how bad they fucked somebody up.”

Are We Losing the War on Drugs?

Thousands of deaths in Mexico are chiefly the result of traffic in high-potency pot smuggled across the border with ruthless resolve. But when marijuana legalization came up as one of the most requested questions during a presidential town hall meeting early in Obama’s presidency, he laughed it off.

The Mule

The first run, from Tampa to McAllen to Greensboro, was a bit of a lark. Maria was living in Tampa, and she was bored. So when a friend, someone she knew to be a Mexican drug cartel–affiliated smuggler, appeared at her door with a business proposition, she leapt at the opportunity. He said to her and her friend, “You girls want to make about $5,000 for driving for us for a few hours?”

Every five days the staff of a makeshift asylum at the edge of Juárez wash the inmates’ bedding and spread it to dry on bushes. Many of the residents of “the crazy place” have been driven mad by drug use and the anguish of loved ones lost to the drug war (Julián Cardona).

The Crazy Place

In Juárez, people vanish. They leave a bar with the authorities and are never seen again. They leave their homes on an errand and never return. They go to a meeting and never come back. They are waiting at a bus stop and never arrive at their assumed destination. No one really knows how many people vanish. It is not safe to ask, and it is not wise to place a call to the authorities.