Blood, Drugs and Hitmen: Where to find Info. on Organized Crime and Narcotrafficking in Mexico and Latin America

Drug cartels in Mexico who once operated in the shadows announced their entrance into mainstream society with a number of beheadings in 2006 that marked the beginning of a wave of unprecedented violence that still consumes parts of the country. Gun fights in broad daylight occur regularly in parts of Nuevo Leon, Michoacan and Chihuahua. Cartels have also moved on to methods more sadistic than beheadings via vats of acid and even a car bomb or two.

Flag of Los Zetas by cartoonist Jose Hernandez (monerohernandez.com.mx)

Much of Mexico continues to live normally despite the violence in some areas. Traveler extraordinaire Rick Steves celebrated the coming of 2011 in Mexico City with nary a hint of drug-related violence in sight. My relatives in the state of Jalisco continue to live in peace. My friends with families in Juarez, unfortunately, cannot say the same. They have suffered extortion and violence at the hands of cartels and corrupt law enforcement.

Most Mexican news organizations can’t or won’t cover the situation in-depth because of threats and attacks by cartels on their headquarters and journalists. U.S. news organizations can’t or won’t because it’s not in their interest to do so save for lazy, fear-mongering tales of spillover violence and anarchy.

So where do concerned citizens and interested parties turn to for accurate information and comprehensive analysis of events in Mexico? Read on after the jump to find out:

EL BLOG DEL NARCO (THE NARCO BLOG) - This one’s in Spanish but there’s a translation button located at the top of the page. It isn’t the best translation service but the graphic images and videos speak volumes on their own.

Video of two sicarios (hitmen) conducting a hit in a park.

The site is run by a pair of bloggers whose anonymity allows them to share information that would cost others their lives. All information, including photos and videos, is submitted to the blog by citizens such as the video above.

FRONTERA LIST – Frontera List is a Google group run by Molly Molloy, reference librarian and Latin America specialist at New Mexico State University.

The site is a news aggregator focusing on U.S./Mexico border issues but also includes stories on crime in the rest of Latin America. Molloy also runs INTERNET RESOURCES FOR LATIN AMERICA, an extensive guide to Latin American research databases, news directories and more.

Molloy makes an appearance on Democracy Now.

GANCHO – El Gancho (The Hook) is freelance journalist Patrick Corcoran’s blog which covers politics and organized crime (plus the occasional sports entry) in Mexico. He currently writes for FairWarning.

INSIGHT - Insight is a non-profit group based in Bogota, Colombia and Washington D.C. that seeks to “increase the level of research, analysis and investigation on organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.” The website was launched in December 2010 and has content (news, profiles, etc.) on Mexico and Colombia with more countries to be added in the coming months.

LATIN AMERICAN BUREAU – LAB, based in London, is an independent research organization similar to Insight except that LAB focuses on research for book publishing and educational purposes.

From the site:

Latin America Bureau (LAB) was founded in 1977 by a group of writers,
 journalists and activists. It was a time of great political repression in Latin 
America and the Caribbean, with military dictatorships in power in most of
 the region. The founders believed it was important to provide a voice for 
the repressed and to educate, research and publish on issues of social
 justice, human rights and economic and political development. Since then, 
LAB has published over 70 books and held many workshops and events in London and around the UK.

We work to broaden public understanding of issues of human rights, development, culture and social and economic justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. LAB has been publishing original books and running education programmes, workshops and events for more than 30 years.

MALCOLM BEITH – Beith is a freelance journalist currently living in Mexico City who was General Editor at Newsweek. His work has appeared in Slate, Foreign Policy, Soldier of Fortune, CNN, NPR, BBC and other news services. He published The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, The World’s Most Wanted Drug Lord in September 2010.

From the site:

The Last Narco is the result of three years of Malcolm’s reporting on the drug war throughout Mexico. Through interviews with DEA agents, Mexican officials and drug traffickers, Malcolm chronicles the hunt for Mexico’s most-wanted man, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and investigates the circumstances by which the Mexican cartels have become the world’s foremost organized crime syndicates.

Even John Walsh is after El Chapo!

Beith continues to write about organized crime in his blogspot.

MEXICO INSTITUTE – This site is a project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The institute functions as an independent research project and news aggregator.

From the site:

The Mexico Institute seeks to increase understanding, communication, and cooperation between the United States and Mexico through the active discussion of issues relevant to both countries. The Institute encourages the exchange of ideas among policymakers, scholars, journalists and business and civic leaders by analyzing the developments of each country in relation to the impact they have on each other.

MEXICO UNMASKED – This is a blog written by Tim Johnson for McClatchy Newspapers were he is the Mexican Bureau chief. He lives in Mexico City and covers a variety of topics about life in Mexico including organized crime.

MILITARISMO MEXICO – This site is in Spanish and focuses on (as you’ve probably guessed from the title) developments concerning the Mexican military and security within the nation.

Marines discover over a ton of cocaine in Coahuila, MX

MY WORD IS MY WEAPON – The word-as-weapon belongs to Kristin Bricker who is a freelance journalist, translator and analyst. Her blog is a mix of links to her articles on other outlets (Huffington Post, IPS, Counterpunch, Telesur, Upside Down World and others) and original stories.

She specializes in issues concerning social movements and organized crime not only in Mexico but across Latin America.

STRATFOR: GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE – Strategic Forecasting, Inc. is an independent, news content service that provides in-depth analysis of current political and military events around the globe. Its Mexico portal can be found HERE.

THE NARCO NEWS BULLETIN – Narco News was born on April 2000 as an alternative to the paltry news coverage of the drug war in mainstream media outlets.

From the site:

This newsletter relays what the Mexican and Latin American press is saying about the drug war. Many of these stories will appear to English-speaking readers as out-of-context to the media-driven “consensus” within the United States regarding the drug war. These stories are not reported in the United States or other world powers: the very nations that pride themselves on freedom of the press.

Entrance to Juarez from El Paso. Photo by Rudy Gutierrez for El Paso Times via AP

About Afroxander

Afroxander is the nom de guerre for writer/photographer Ivan Fernandez, based in Southern California. His work has appeared in The San Bernardino County Sun, Modern Fix magazine, The People’s Dance Party blog, The Rockit magazine and other outlets. He currently freelances for LA Weekly, Remezcla and anyone else willing to send him out on an exciting adventure.
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