Gone West

Month: June, 2009

NarcoGuerra Times Relocates

The NarcoGuerra Times reports are overtaking this blog. I’ve opened a new shop exclusive to the subject. Here is the link.


Dying for another high-rise in Austin..


Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,

Our work contract’s out and we have to move on;

Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,

They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,

We died in your valleys and died on your plains.

We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,

Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

–‘Deportee’, Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman

The grisly murders of a 9-year old girl and her father in Arizona’s Pima county just north of the Mexico border grabbed headlines this weekend due to the alleged killers involvement in the extreme anti-immigration Minutemen movement. See my posting  from yesterday.  More details can be found  in a  big takeout this morning at Everett, Washington’s Herald

Much noise will be made by Minutemen and other anti-immigrant activists (including nativist airhorns like Lou Dobbs) over the murdered father reportedly dealing dope for Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel. That’s the main media frame on things Mexican these days. Working the game for the cartels in the US is a high-risk job for immigrants, but so is legit employment–and for much less money.

3 dead after construction accident in Austin


Associated Press

The three men killed when part of a scaffold collapsed and plunged them several stories down were immigrant construction workers with families in Latin America, friends and family say.

It was unclear who employed Raudel Ramirez Camacho, 27; Wilson Joel Irias Cerritos, 30; and Jesus Angel Lopez Perez, 28, the Austin American-Statesman reported Saturday.

The men died Wednesday afternoon while working on a high-rise apartment project, said Harry Evans, a battalion chief with the Austin Fire Department. Officials say two of the workers fell 11 to 13 stories while a third fell a shorter distance onto the roof of a seven-story parking garage.

Irias and Lopez were from a rural town in Honduras and had been in Austin for less than a year after a stint in Florida, said their neighbor Ruben Flores.

“They were paisanos,” Flores said. “They were very hardworking. They would leave every morning at 6 a.m.”

Ramirez had a wife, a 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son in Queretaro, Mexico, said his father-in-law, Arturo Miranda, who lives in Austin.

“My daughter is destroyed,” said Miranda. “I haven’t been able to stop her from crying by telephone. She keeps asking me to tell her it’s not true.”

Since 1995 the on-the-job death rate for Mexican workers here in the US  as compared to native-born laborers has almost tripled–going from 30% to 80% more likely to die.

– Deaths among Mexicans increased faster than their population in the U.S. Between 1996 and 2002, as the number of Mexican workers grew by about half, from 4 million to 6 million, the number of deaths rose by about two-thirds, from 241 to 387. Deaths peaked at 420 in 2001.

– Though their odds of dying in the Southeast and parts of the West are far greater than the U.S. average, fatalities occur everywhere: Mexicans died cutting North Carolina tobacco and Nebraska beef, felling trees in Colorado and welding a balcony in Florida, trimming grass at a Las Vegas golf course and falling from scaffolding in Georgia.

– Even compared to other immigrants — those who historically work America’s hardest jobs — what’s happening to Mexicans is exceptional in scope and scale. Mexicans are nearly twice as likely as the rest of the immigrant population to die at work.

‘Dying to Work’, an Associated Press investigative report..

Emily Timm at the Workers Defense Project in Austin today told a local TV reporter:  “That sort of story is always shocking and very upsetting, but based on what we found in our study, these abuses are widespread.”

142 construction workers died on the job in Texas in 2007.

Timm: “That’s nearly twice as many deaths as any other state in the country. And, those statistics exist because regulators are not doing their jobs, because we don’t have strict enough policies to make sure employers are doing their part to ensure the safety of their workers.”

Full story at News 8 Austin. For an in-depth report on the perils of construction work in Texas,  go to Melissa del Bosque’s  feature in this week’s Texas Observer.

And if the risks are high for immigrant workers, the pay is not. Consider the new Orlando Magic venue  construction..

City officials have accused one of the biggest contractors working on the new Orlando Magic arena of underpaying more than 100 workers — and angry union leaders say the company is also hiring undocumented workers to build the team’s home court.

Orlando officials overseeing the construction of the $480 million city-owned venue say Capform violated city policies meant to ensure that workers in the construction trades are paid a fair wage. The city requires contractors and subcontractors to pay their workers the local ”prevailing wage” for the job they are doing.

Capform was awarded a $19.8 million contract to build the concrete superstructure of the new arena. It began work in October and will be largely finished this month.

After city officials notified the company of the violations, some workers were given back pay. Jim Renaud, vice president of the Carrollton, Texas-based company, said Capform resolved all of the problems, which he called ”clerical errors” resulting from workers being transferred from other job sites with different pay scales.  —Miami Herald

As for the three dead young workers in Austin–Raudel Ramirez Camacho, Wilson Joel Irias Cerritos and Jeus Angel Lopez Perez–I wonder if the future occupants at the 21 Rio condo will know their names or how much they sacrificed for the view.

NarcoGuerra Times-Obama’s Rebranded War


On May 28, President Obama’s “drug czar” Gil Kerlikowske had an exchange with the National Journal..in which the former Seattle police chief said,

“We should stop comparing this to a war and be much smarter about how we are dealing with it–and in a much more comprehensive way. I’ve ended the war on drugs.

…Reducing the demand in the country is absolutely critical if we are not only to improve our own safety and security but also that in other countries”

Sounds promising. But it’s just rebranding. Happy horseshit for the hopeful.  The proof is in the pudding–and the pudding in Washington is always colored green.

According to the White House National Drug Control Strategy FY 2010 Budget Summary billions more  will be spent on “supply reduction” than “demand reduction.”

In 2010 nearly twice as much federal funding will go the “war” that Kelikowske says is “over” than to drug treatment and prevention programs–$9.9 billion for the cops and military, $5.167  for the demand side.

That’s a 2.7% bump for military and law enforcement, a 0.8% reduction for Obama’s  much touted prevention/treatment course.

And that’s just part of the Big Picture.

There are many many billions more heading into various counternarc0tics, counternarcoterrorist programs squirreled away within  DOD, State, Homeland Security, DOJ.  I am still wading through budgets and reports and can’t begin to pull a full expenditure together. One thread that runs steady through them all is the Pentagon.

From what I’ve seen thus far–despite the unease the Obama administration may have with the word—it’s definitely a war.

And its expanding.

More to follow.

* Map circa 1999.

Though it’s hell on the border..we can still dance.

Fewer damn bullets back then…and no heads on the dance floor.

NarcoGuerra Times- “Parallel State” Update

 bandera de los zetas

“I would say Mexico is a state with a parallel power in its drug cartels. It’s not a narco state yet; we still have a government. But they have true power, beginning with the right to tax (protection money).  I would say we are in great danger (of becoming a narco state.)”–Victor Clark Alfaro, narcotraficante expert at San Diego State University, June 3 2009 

Alfaro was speaking to Linda Diebel, reporter at the Toronto Star. She has a commendable piece out today–one that cuts through the bullshit bodycounting and fear-thumping generalizations the major US media coughs up on a daily basis.  Read Diebel’s piece here.  Note the happy horsehit the Mexican ambassador to Canada shovels out at the end of the article….like doing deep kneebends in the void.

Two weeks ago I posted on the parallel state model that Alfaro refers to–new readers can find that here.  For further reading I suggest venturing to  Ivan Briscoe’s The Proliferation of the Parallel State.  

Based on a close study of Pakistan and Guatemala, as well as a number of other cases ranging from Fujimori’s Peru to contemporary Guinea-Bissau, this Working Paper sets out to define the novel concept of the “parallel state”. It explains the emergence of these states in contexts where democracy and open markets have recently been installed, and analyses the ways in which political leaders and the public connect with entrenched criminal groups.

Briscoe’s  timely analysis can be downloaded as a pdf (English or Spanish) at FRIDE,  Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior 


* That’s Los Zetas bandera at top

NarcoGuerra Times: More on The Faith-Based Cartel

jesus with gun

“La Familia doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocent people. It only kills those who deserve to die. Everyone should know this: Divine justice.”–message left with five severed heads on the dance floor of the Sol y Sombra nightclub in Uruapan, Michoacan, September 6, 2006.

A week ago today–May 27–a Mexican army squad was patrolling along the Michoacan side of the Rio Jeronimo across from the state of Guerrero. They rumbled into Riva Paldo, a little town about 300 klicks west of Mexico City, and rolled up on a black Nissan Xterra parked on a side street.

Inside the SUV, the soldiers found thirteen rifles, eleven pistols, four fragmentation grenades, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, scales and nine copies of bestselling Christian author John Eldredge’s Savaje de Corazon, (Wild at Heart). According the army report, the books were signed “El Mas Loco”–The Craziest One– AKA, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno, La Familia’s evangelizing jefe whose self-published La Familia handbook is packed with Eldredge quotes. A particular favorite is this dashing call to arms:

Todo hombre desea tener una batalla que pelar, un aventura que vivir una bella rescatar.

Every man wants a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beautiful rescue.

La Familia’s bulk-buying and give-aways of Eldredge’s book doesn’t seem to jibe with George W. Grayson’s take on the the cartel’s religious bent. In his detailed overview published in February–La Familia: Another Deadly Mexican Syndicate–Grayson links La Familia to an decades-old apocalyptic traditionalist Catholic town in the Michoucan sierras:

La Familia’s current leaders, Bible-toting fanatics Moreno Gonzalez and Mendez Vargas, may have direct or indirect ties with devotees of the New Jerusalem movement.

Mexico Religious Cult

Grayson didn’t mention La Familia’s connection to the Muscular Christian prosyletizer Eldredge, likely because nobody had wind of that outside of Michoacan and the Mexican federal intelligence agencies until last week. Even though Moreno flogs a Protestant evangelical’s book, that doesn’t preclude La Familia from recruiting in New Jerusalem…

…a theocracy where soccer balls are illegal, John F. Kennedy is a saint, freedom of religion doesn’t exist and the end of the world is just around the corner. It is the largest and longest surviving of a string of traditionalist Catholic colonies that have sprung up around the world.

More on New Jerusalem from The Arizona Republic’s Chris Hawley.

NarcoGuerra Times: The Faith-Based Cartel

La Familia corpse

The drug cartel La Familia Michoacana is, as one Mexican intelligence analyst put it, “unique.”

From all available information so far, it appears that La Familia has developed into a faith-based right-wing populist social movement emanating from and orchestrated by an organization that happens to be a well-armed, well-financed violent criminal enterprise.

La Familia has branched out from the production and transport of drugs, diversifying into counterfeiting, extortion, kidnapping, armed robbery, prostitution and car dealerships. They’ve gone so far beyond bribery that people in Michoacan are paying mony to La Familia in lieu of taxes to the government. According to the recent Mexican federal police report on La Familia, there are 9,000 members of the La Familia “sect.”

The federales are now viewing La Familia as more of a guerrilla group than a straight-foward drug cartel. Unlike other cartels, La Familia goes beyond the production and distribution of marijuana, meth, cocaine and heroin and into the political realm. The report goes on to say that La Familia has “created  a cult-like mystique and developed pseudo-evangelical recruitment techniques that are unique in Mexico.” 

Federal intelligence officers in Mexico described La Familia leader, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno–El Mas Loco (The Crazy One)–as a “religious zealot” who totes around his self-published book of “aphorisms” based on the Bible and writings of US evangelical author and former Focus on The Family writer, John Eldredge. In the searches and arrests targeting La Familia across Michoacan, the one common denominator federal forces found, along with assault rifles, grenades and drugs, were copies of Eldredge’s Wild At Heart. (Salvaje de Corazon).

La Familia is strongly pro-family (and all that that implies) and requires its members to abstain from alcohol and drugs. There is an indoctrination program all La Familia recruits must go through that inculcates ” personal values, ethical and morlal principles consistent with the purposes of the organization.”  Last year La Familia brought in  two motivational speakers to lecture its members. The group is hierarchic and maintains a strict top-down emotional control of its members.

Think of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, only with more money and firepower and you get the idea.

 La Familia presents serious implications for the July 5 state and elections and not just in Michoacan. The federal intelligence report warns that   La Familia “represents a serious risk to penetrate political, social and religious structures in Michoacán and increasingly in other states of the country as Guanajuato, Mexico and the State of Jalisco.”

More to follow from La Familia writings, messages and banderas.

From Focus On The Family to La Familia Michoacana

La Familia Michoacana was all over the news out of Mexico last week. In President Calderon’s home state of Michoacan,  federales carted off  ten  mayors and twenty other local officials who were allegedly under the control of La Familia, an ambitious cartel often described as a “pseudo-evangelical cult.”  (See my earlier post on them as parallel state  here.)



On Saturday an internal intelligence report on La Familia from the Mexican justice department surfaced in Milenio, bringing the news that the faith-based cartel grounds its indoctrination program on the writings of macho Christian author and veteran Focus On The Family senior fellow John Eldredge, who  now heads Ransomed Hearts Ministries in Colorado Springs.

There are four separate references to Eldredge in  the Mexican  intelligence memo on La Familia. The cartel has conducted a three-year  recruitment and PR campaign across Michoacan featuring thousands of billboards and banderas carrying their evangelical message and warnings.  La Familia is known for tagging its executions and other mayhem as “la divina  justica”–divine justice.

The report says La Familia leader, Nazario Gonzalez Moreno aka El Loco o More Chayo (“The Craziest”) has made Eldredge’s books salvaje de corazonrequired reading for La Familia and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education members to circulate the Colorado-based evangelical’s writings throughout the Michoacan countryside. 





Eldredge pic









  According to his bio:

John was a member of the staff at Focus on the Family for 12 years. Most recently he served as Senior Fellow for Christian Worldview Studies at the Focus on the Family Institute—a one-semester program for college students located at the Focus campus in Colorado Springs. There he began showing a new generation of Christians what writers like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald knew so well: “Christianity is not an invitation to become a moral person. It is not a program for getting us in line or for reforming society. At its core, Christianity begins with an invitation to desire.”

At FOTF, Eldredge led Dobson’s anti-gay crusade.  Here is Rev. Mel White’s account of a May 1994 meeting in Colorado in a letter White sent to Dobson:

John Eldredge, the first, key-note speaker. “The gay agenda, ” he claimed quite falsely, has all the elements of that which is truly evil. It is deceptive at every turn…It deceives those who are drawn into it, who embrace it. It presents an extraordinary deceptive face to the public at large.”

John was one of the three delegates to that conference from Focus on the Family. …Mr. Eldredge made his goals for gays and lesbians completely clear: “..to roll back the militant gay agenda wherever it manifests itself…whether in domestic partnership ordinances…school curriculum issues…pursuit of minority status…marriage and adoption privileges, so on and so forth.”

 Eldrege has been repeatedly taken to task by Christian critics on theological grounds, including  his mixing of “neo-pagan”  philosphy with the Gospel and aggressive of ‘Muscular Christianity”. Here and here. 

This from Christian blogger Tim Challies :

John Eldredge became a major player in the evangelical world with the release of The Sacred Romance which he co-authored with Brent Curtis (who has since died). Following The Sacred Romance he wrote Wild at Heart, Waking The Dead, The Journey of Desire and more recently, Epic. I have read all of these except for Waking The Dead and The Journey of Desire. Eldredge’s books are targeted primarily at men and his writings have great appeal for men, many of whom feel that society has forced them to be like Mr. Rogers – harmless and just a little effeminate. Eldredge encourages men to be real men – to head to the wilderness and be the rugged warriors we all want to be if we look deep inside ourselves. Eldredge continually writes about William Wallace of Braveheart or Maximus, the main character in Gladiator – real manly men.”

 Handiwork left on a nightclub dance floor by Eldredge’s “real manly” Christian acolytes..it doesn’t get more Mel Gibson  than this :

 More details to follow.

A Wrathful Bloody Sunday in Wichita

When the news came Sunday  that late-term abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller was gunned down while attending church in Wichita, it didn’t deliver much shock.

Tiller had been walking the earth with a target on his back for decades. In 1993 he was shot in the arms by Shelly Shannon while driving up to his clinic. Shannon was a compatriot of sniper assassin James Kopp in the ‘Army of God”, the underground network of activists committed to “direct action”, including “justifiable homicide.”  

Here’s a refresher on Kopp from my 2003 Playboy article, Virtual Reich:

Kopp’s most prominent victim was the Buffalo physician Dr. Barnett Slepian, who ran an abortion clinic. After several forays around Slepian’s home, Kopp  secreted himself in a wooded area on the evening of October 23 and waited. From this vantage the shooter had a clear view through his rifle scope to the Slepian’s kitchen window and its well-lighted interior. The gynecologist/obstetrician was standing with his back to that window stirring a pot of soup on the stove, his wife and teenage son at the table, when a 7.62 round ripped through Slepian’s body. The doctor bled out and died in front of his family before EMS arrived at the scene.

Kopp then calmly left his sniper’s position, walked 150 feet into the woods where he wrapped his Kalishnikov rifle in plastic, slipped it into a plastic tube and buried it. He then returned through the woods to his Chevrolet where a female accomplice may have waited with the motor running. Within days of the killing, police had tagged James Charles Kopp as a prime suspect by tracing the vehicle tag number noted by one of Slepian’s neighbors. He was also implicated in rifle attacks in Canada and New York that had left three other doctors seriously wounded. Not only were Kopp’s victims all abortion providers, but all were either Jewish or had names identifying them as Jews.

By late Sunday afternoon the suspect in  Tiller’s murder, David Philip Roeder, had been picked up by police  near Kansas City.

I put a call to  Judy Thomas at her desk at the Kansas City Star. She is the co-author with James Risen of one of the best books on the anti-abortion movement, Wrath of Angels, that focused on the siege of Wichita abortion clinics by Randall Terry and Operation Rescue in 1991. wrath of angels

Judy and I have known each other for two decades, exchanging info on the radical right, the anti-abortion movement and militias. We recalled Roeder from back in the day when the Christian Patriot militias  and the revived Posse Comitatus were rampant. His name was  familiar to us. Roeder was arrested in 1996 for driving with a bogus “soverigen citizen’ tag. When the cops looked in his trunk they found bomb components.  Roeder was  signed up with the Freemen, a Christian Identity-based common law court separartist group that was in a stand-off  at the time with state and federal authorities at a farm in western Montana.  He was just one of thousands who had moved into the armed right-wing resistance that spang to life during the 1990s.

Their world became my world when I went to work with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama in 1994. A year earlier I wrote a piece on the murder of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider who was gunned down in Pensacola, the first such assassination in a string that continued for the next six years.

To put yesterday’s killing in Wichita in historical perspective, I’m posting an unpublished piece from 1993–“…with guns in their hands and God on their side.” 

I thought I had lost the typewritten manuscript, but it was discovered last week among some files a friend was going through who then passed it  to me along with another unpublished piece I plan to post here.

In the years since I wrote this, I have learned far more about the anti-abortion movement, Christian Identity and Reconstructionists–much of it obtained through personal encounters “out in the field”, as we say.

Though I’ve written at greater length on anti-abortion  and right-wing terrorism elsewhere, this once-orphaned article may add a little historic context to yesterday’s assassination in Wichita .