Hit Man

One of the most prestigious and high paying jobs in Mexico is the hit man, he who assassinates people on the order of the drug cartels. One of this illustrious group told how he went about his work to the late Charles Bowden, author of many books on Mexican drug violence, and Molly Molloy, a research librarian at Mexico State University, in their book “El Sicario” (Hit Man).

El Sicario spares no excruciating detail in describing the hundreds of people he has killed, many of whom he cannot remember. A job is a job. He learned his skills at a police academy, a regular training ground for future narcos, an example of how law and crime are blended in today’s Mexico.

“Now there are various ways of killing people,” he explains. “And none of them are very agreeable. The easiest is just to shoot them. But almost none of the bosses wants them to die quickly or easily. So what do you do? Suffocate them. “When their body is ceasing to function and their life is slipping away, you can loosen the hold on them a little, and they gain a little strength and start to revive. It’s necessary to make it last a long time so that the asphyxiation is slow and induces much suffering.”

If more is needed, there’s electric shock and scalding. “We cover the body with a sheet, sprinkle gasoline or alcohol on it and light a match. As the fuel burns, it removes up to three layers of skin, leaving it completely raw. The suffering is enormous.”

There are still other forms of interrogation, he says. “Things that you cannot imagine.”

In time, the hit man grew appalled at what he was doing. When he stopped drinking and doing drugs, his bosses worried about him. He soon had a price on his head imposed by both the narcos and the authorities, not that there was much difference between them. In desperation he found God and sought redemption. He now lives in secrecy, avoiding the people who would like to do to him what he did to others.

It’s hard to better the hit man’s record for slaughter. But taking a broader look, once removed from the actual violence, there are myriad hit men and women buying the illegal drugs that finance the cartels and their murders. In his book “Narconomics or How To Run a Drug Cartel”, Economist editor Tom Wainwright wonders why people don’t understand the cost to Mexico of the drug highs they are experiencing. “Buy cocaine in Europe or the United States, and it is an uncomfortable certainty that you have helped pay for someone to be tortured to death in a place like Reynosa… Millions of consumers buy drugs each year without giving a moment’s thought to the fact that they are funding unimaginable suffering.”

So who causes more suffering? The hit man or the drug consumers?

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